Radha Cuadrado, Bituin Escalante, Frenchie Dy

“AY, CRISPY, woohoo!”— if you’re meandering through the islets of dining tables, this particular deep-fried pig knuckle may sound like an orchestra hit, especially when it reverberates in the entire room in the highest octave of Bituin Escalante.

Or prophetic, in fact, from the league of her ”ka-level” too: Frenchie Dy and Radha Cuadrado.

What do you want from the glamorous, powerful women you call divas or icons or cultural forces?

Moving, morphing, leading, flauntng —such is the power of their star quality that does not subscribe to words to tell us who they are.

“I can imagine what it is, especially I’m in entertainment, and everyone wants me to be thin,” Bituin shares the story after a mini concert with Frenchie and Radha one Saturday afternoon in June at The Northwing of SM City Cebu. Labeled as the SM Woman Divas, the singers are also featured as SM Woman Plus ambassadors.

At Jerry’s Grill, several four-seaters are huddled into one long dinner table for us. “Tama na. I don’t think it’s a fat-thin issue,” she continues. She
orders a mango shake—green mango is actually fine for her “as long as it’s mango shake.”

The triumvirate—the great pop idols with fashion and style—has given us small variations on one grand theme.

Their appropriation and assemblage are drawn from an ancient knowledge that a mass audience is a mass of niche audiences.

The dawn of Frenchie’s household familiarity was brought by her hit cover of “Raindrops Will Fall” on the now-defunct “Star in a Million” on ABS-CBN, gradually transitioning into a movie actress (“Every Breath U Take,” “I Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nAPO Sila,” and “OMG: Oh My Girl”).

Radha was the lead singer of pop band Kulay and submitted herself to the reality singing contest “The Voice” on ABS-CBN. Of course, Bituin begged a proposition in her Himig Handog winning song that has become the theme song of every heart shattered: “Kung Ako Na Lang Sana.”

She would also be in the Broadway adaption of “Waitress” before the year ends.

More so, all in the timing, three women weigh the benefits of entirely tweaking our lines of vision of shapes.

At the mini concert of the SM Woman Divas—Radha, Bituin and Frenchie—at The Northwing of SM City Cebu

We want them to want—and in our names get—everything they possibly can.

Success in love, more importantly.

We want them to embody multiple fantasies.

We want them to make us believe that better times are just around the corner.

We like women who talk back as well.

Meanwhile—for the sake of the forces to reckon with—is our classic Crispy Pata the truest food for their soul?

You have been chosen as SM Woman Plus ambassadors. Why did you say yes to it?

Bituin (B): Because plus-size women don’t have a representation in the Philippines.

Positive representation, that is.

It’s either you’re a joke; you’re a punchline. To no disclaimers, SM asked us to step in to celebrate who we are.

There’s a theme song; there’s video campaign. SM is serious about it, so why not?

Radha (R): You would be perfect if you weren’t plus-size. If there’s a chance to inspire, why not?

Frenchie (F): Gusto naming ma-inspire ang mga tao, lalo na yung mga plus-sizes na mahalin nila kung anong meron sila, kung ano sila.

Be confident kahit gaano ka kalaki o gaano k aka liit, ikaw yan, mahalin mo yan.

How does this new line reflect your personal style?

B: Comfort, primarily. We want something that fits. Ang hirap, minsan nakakawalang gana mag-shopping kasi walang masaydong choices yung size ko before.

Now with this new line of fashion, “I want to be sexy”—I can afford to say that.

R: Me? Comfortable with a little edge.

I think limited yung mga plus- sizes kasi people don’t design for us. So here comes SM.

You can be comfortable and you can be whoever you want to be. ‘Yun ang maganda sa SM, eh. Fashion is supposed to be a form of expression, di ba? For plus-size women, di siya nagkaroon ng ganong voice, eh.

Personally, sa SM, may pinapasuot sila sa akin na I wouldn’t have thought of wearing kasi plus-size ako.

I’ve already limited myself in my mind.

F: Now I can buy swimsuits in SM that actually look good on me.

Are you affected by a thin-obsessed society?

B: Not at all. Kasi, sa bahay, I’m celebrated whatever I am.

We’re also different in that house. We’re a bit mad; we’re a bit crazy, so tanggap lang. I can imagine what it is, especially I’m in
entertainment, and everyone wants you to be thin.

Sabi nila “You’re gaining weight,” but I don’t see it, wala talaga eh.

You see these stick-thin people go past you, and they’re told “you have to gain weight.” Tama na. I don’t think it’s a fat-thin issue.

R: What is worse is some of them are being asked to be skinnier. It’s in the mind. If you’re confident, you’re confident in whatever size or shape or how you look.

I think SM just gives us that kind of platform.

The three of you have different singing styles. Does it make group singing more difficult?

F: Hindi, eh, masarap silang kasama—kasama kumanta, kasama kumain.

R: Idol namin ang isa’t isa.

B: We give compliments to each other— “Mag-plunging ka. Ilabas mo yung legs mo. Sexy ka dyan.”

How do you keep it together?

R: It’s actually a secret. Mahilig kasi kami sa music, eh. Pag iba yung kasama namin, iba, eh. Open kami lahat, ganun kami mag isip lahat. We’ve all done so many music in the past; that’s we all click.

B: As long as bukas ka, walang superiority—jazz, pop. Magkakatalunan na kung merong minus one.

F: Before this came, friends na kasi kami, eh.

Wow, you are giving the Crispy Pata the loudest cheer in the restaurant. Is it you favorite food?

B: Yes, we like Crispy Pata. I can eat because work is done.

F: But Lechon is our favorite. We never leave Cebu without eating Lechon.

Do the three of you have upcoming projects together?

B: Yes, in the Middle East and in the U.S. but are still in the planning stage.

Are you three an official group?

B: Kasi it’s limiting to be in a group. Ang ganda ng dynamics na ‘to, so we’re keeping it this way.

R: What kills is ikahon mo siya at may false expectations. We are supportive of each other’s careers. For example, Frenchie is a kagawad. We’re supportive of that aside from her music.

How do you take care of your voices?

R: We don’t.

F: Pag meron kaming trabaho behave kami. Di masyadong nagsasalita…

B: Hindi nagsasalita pag nagwo-work tayo? Kailan nangyari yan, Frenchie? (laughter).

Are you recording an album together?

R: We just recorded the SM Woman jingle. The last two— we did Christmas; we did summer. We‘re planning to do that part again. It depends on SM. So far, that’s what we have done, and it works. Maybe in the future… If it feels good, we’ll do it. If it’s right, we’ll do it.

Is this your comeback, Radha?

R: I was never gone, honey.

B: There’s a shift kasi. Like, visibility only happens when you’re in show business. We all never stopped singing—nag banda, nag theater. Dito kasi, show business is basically only two networks.

F: What they do not know, ang laki ng mundo ng music.

Singing contests are harder now.

F: Mas mahirap ngayon kasi may text votes. Sa amin nag start yung may text votes (Star in a Million). Pero ngayon kasi, mas malala yung text votes, minsan yun na lang ang pinag babasehan, social media—mas mahirap ngayon.

Tell us about your love life.

B: My common-law husband is from Cebu… bisdak.

R: Ano ba? Basta I’m in love, ’yun na ’yun.

F: Oo, I’m married. I’m happy.

TAGS: Bituin Escalante, forces, Frenchie Dy, Nature, Radha Cuadrado
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