The best of times
WE DUG deep into 20 years worth of interviews and encounters with select newsmakers and celebrities and how our conversations with them —whether for a feature, a fashion editorial, or our Sunday section called Play!—made an impact on us and the readers.
Here are the stories our hearts will always remember:
“Northern Mindanao trip. Circa late 2000s. We visited Siargao, Legazpi, Butuan, Zamboanga. It showed me the precious beauty of Mindanao nature and culture. Also my interviews with musicians like Bituin Escalante and Switchfoot. Nothing beats getting up close and personal with artists whose works have become soundtracks to one’s life.”
“ABS-CBN’s Cebu media tour in 2005 was the first time I got myself surrounded with the network’s big stars, chatting and eating with them as if we were close friends!
What made the coverage even more memorable was I got my five minutes of fame on then very popular talk show, “The Buzz,” interviewing Sandara Park who just came back from Korea. This was her first Philippine comeback before becoming a K-Pop star. “The Buzz” was the number 1 showbiz talk show that time so most people I know, especially my family and relatives, would watch the show. Imagine their surprise when they saw me on TV!
Looking back, it didn’t feel like a big deal then because it was part of my work as a reporter but I feel grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime experience to travel and rub elbows with the stars. All thanks to my generous editors, Mimi Lijauco and Niza Mariñas who’ve always given budding reporters a chance to shine and to truly experience Life!”
“Our very brief interview with Lea Salonga for her 2005 concert here in Cebu was one for the books. Each media outfit was given only two minutes to ask questions. I remember two things: Her pregnancy glow and her firm handshake.
I was rooting for singer-songwriter David Cook the entire seventh season of “American Idol” in 2008. Who would have thought he’d hold a concert in Cebu and I’d get to see him up close four years after? My ultimate fangirling moment.
A highlight of my years with Life! is the chance to be able to interview international authors sent by National Book Store to Cebu for their meet-and-greet and book signing events. Some of these literary “rock stars” in my list are Marie Lu, Jennifer Niven, Jennifer Smith, Ransom Riggs and Mitch Albom.
Neil Iosif Ilagan
“House was the music of the dance floor during my time, before the invasion of hip hop and R&B. “Ever After” and “Selfish” were my power songs in the morning. So when I got to talk with singer Bonnie Bailey during her visit to Cebu, I was starstruck. The interview turned into a conversation between friends as we talked about the similarities of Latin and Filipino culture. I remember singing on my way home after that assignment.”
“Being prejudiced is something that can bite you back. An example was when I met Coco Martin for the first time at an informal press conference to promote his film, “Masahista” in 2005. He was quiet, and spoke with a heavy accent. Sure, he did well in the film but I judged him as one of those actors who would just disappear. After all, he was “just starring in an indie film.” I took no photos and had minimal interaction with him. Who would have thought that he would end up numerous awards for his performance in the film, star in so many indie and mainstream movies, and even become a household name? I have long moved on from my backward thinking and have watched and appreciated a lot of indie films and their actors. Also, I made sure to take a photo with Coco the next time I’d see him.”
“From conducting an impromptu pictorial and interview with Direk Jerrold Tarog right outside the premiere of his epic “Goyo, Ang Batang Heneral,” to sharing anecdotes with Jessica Zafra as well as having Kevin Kwan sign your copy of his bestseller. One personality that strikes a chord was actor John Lloyd Cruz (Play! “Honoring His Craft,” January 24, 2016). Amidst the flurry of interviews (and handlers mindfully clearing bottles on the dinner table) to promote “Honor Thy Father,” he said, in jest: “The most difficult role siguro is when I get to play myself. ‘Yun siguro ang pinakamahirap.” It’s honest moments like this, it’s all about being in their most candid and human side as much as possible.
“The thing with interviewing people is that there’s always a take-away knowledge in the end, and writing about a place comes with valuable experience. So I don’t pass up every chance to interview book authors with National Book Store or to travel out of the country to write about a foreign place and its foreign culture. The most memorable interviews were with YA authors, Tarryn Fisher and Alyson Noel, who advised to embrace your bad side because good writers need good flaws. It’ll make the writing dynamic and real. As for the most memorable experience, the South Korea trip and the Royal Carribean Cruise topped the list because who doesn’t love to experience that?”
Apple M. Ta-as
“As a feminist myself, the women’s month features that ran on the three Sundays of March 2018 for Play! ranks first on my list of favorites. Working with fellow writer Hayde Quiñanola, it was the most fulfilling project I made as it tackles one of the things I am most passionate about—women empowerment. Second on my list would be my coverages about Cebuano artists and local brands/start-ups. I took pride on letting their stories be known to the closely knit Cebuano community. My third favorite has to be my interview with spoken word artists Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. It felt surreal sharing a table with them, just talking about writing and the struggles that comes with it. It somehow reminded me of my purpose–to write for those whose stories need to be heard and told.”
Michelle Joy Padayhag
“In September 2014, I met Thai superstars Mario Maurer and Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul on an assignment at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa. I almost lost my phone after the interview. Thankfully, Mario found it! That was the best advance birthday gift. I saw my crush and he even greeted me.”
Clint Holton Potestas
“My story on Jodi Sta. Maria. It went all over the social media, picked up by mainstream news outlets. I think the story was simple, not best so far. A
journalist’s luck: I was just at the right place at the right time.”
Becoming the contributing editor of Style of the Month empowers me to protect an organized platform that fashion is societal and cultural.
Regine Velasquez. And no one else.”
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