Sweet-faced and simple, Angelica walks in the studio not in the most hyper of moods, but she smiles all around. There are no visible signs of what’s wrong, except that she seems a little cautious in her movements. There are no prima donna demands, and because time is essential, everyone gets right down to business.
You wouldn’t know it, but hours before the HealthToday cover shoot, she made an emergency stopover at her chiropractor’s office to get treated for a recurring back problem.
At the makeup table she explains her back is swollen. “Nangyari siya noong August  sa isang scene,” she shares of an experience on the set of her TV show Banana Split. “Natalunan ako. Then natapos naman namin ’yung scene kaya lang pagbaba ko ng stairs, dun siya nag-trigger na, ang sakit. So diniretso ako ng E.R. nagpa-check na ako kasi nakakatakot, lower back kasi. So binigyan lang ako ng pain reliever ng … kung anu-ano. So siyempre nawala ’yung pain, ’di ba? After mga five days naka-recover ako ulit. Nakakayuko ako, patakbo-takbo na ulit ako.”
Several months later, Angelica felt pain in her back again. “As in, parang biglang may nanigas doon sa likod ko,” she relates. Stretching didn’t help; in fact, the pain got worse. Back in the hospital to have it checked during an off-day from work, the X-ray revealed what appeared to be a slightly dislocated spine.
Iron resolve, nerves of steel
It’s moments like this when it becomes clear that it takes more than God-given beauty and nerves of steel to make it—and stay—in show business. Sometimes, behind the face of an angel, one needs the body that can withstand its demands, and the occasional accidents as they happen.
Hardly involved in a lot of stunt work, Angelica is more known for side-splitting comedy shows like Banana Split; ensemble pieces like Here Comes the Bride; dramas and rom-coms—like her recent blockbuster movie Every Breath U Take opposite Piolo Pascual.
Angelica started working in show business at age six: movies, commercials, and a stint in Ang TV. She’s been actively working in entertainment since, with a long string of roles in both television and the silverscreen, winning a slew of awards along the way. Her achievements include Best Child Actress at the FAMAS and Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Star Awards in the early years, and Best Supporting Actress at the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Luna Awards and several best comedy actress accolades in recent years.
As a contract star of ABS-CBN, Angelica has faced many demands at work. “Hindi kami allowed din na magpahinga nang ganung katagal,” she says when asked if she at least gets several months of vacation. “Talagang hahanapin rin kasi ng mga tao kung ganung katagal kang mawala. Siguro pinakamatagal na vacation na nakukuha namin is bigyan ka ng 20 days, talagang … sobrang sarap na nun, ’no? [Kung] mabigyan ka ng ganun, sobrang swerte mo.”
But she allows herself certain concessions. “Ako talaga, medyo strict ako [na] ’pag Sunday, hindi talaga ako nagwo-work.” This is the day she needs to “recover,” as she says. “Hindi ko kaya ’yung ibang tao ako everyday. Kailangan mong i-touch ’yung sarili mo na, ‘Kumusta ka? Okay ka ba?’ Kailangan kong maging tao ulit kahit once a week lang.”
Nurturing the self
When it comes to nutrition and taking care of herself, she points out, “Siyempre ’pag nasa work ako hindi ko, kung baga, pinapahirapan ’yung sarili ko pagdating sa options ko sa pagkain. ’Yung feeling ko deserve kong ibigay ’yon sa self ko dahil feeling ko nagta-trabaho naman ako, ’di ba?”
Although she says she’s only slightly picky when it comes to food, she notes, “May control naman ako [sa pagpili ng kakainin]. Pero ’pag regular day, medyo maarte ako, as in nagsa-salad ako; mine-make sure kong ang dami kong iniiom na water.”
What she does now, however, is stick to a diet that is compatible to her blood type. Learning of this from TV host-actress Kris Aquino during a casual conversation, Angelica admits, “Na-research ko lang sa Internet na [para sa] blood type ko, mas ok na hindi ako kumain ng chicken and ng mga shellfish. So walang crab, mga hipon, mussels. Eh sobrang hilig ko dun.”
But while certain diets attract controversy, everyone agrees that sleep is of utmost importance. And for a celebrity who works continuously like Angelica, sleep is her best friend. “Grabe kasi akong matulog e,” she exclaims. “May mga tao na ’pag nakatulog sila ng dalawang oras, okay na kasi ayaw nilang nasasayang yung oras nila sa pagtulog. Baka may ma-miss sila. Ako naman, hindi baleng wala akong gawin basta matulog ako. Kailangan kong mabawi ’yung pagod na naubos sa ‘kin. Pero kung hindi, kasi sa amin naman binibigay ’yung [taping] schedule beforehand. So nape-prepare mo ’yung sarili mo. Kung baga naka-mindset sa ’yo na, ‘O, itong buong tatlong buwan medyo tight yung schedule ko.’”
When it comes to her beauty regimen, her best tip is, “Moisturizer, sobra. [And] sun block, ’yon.” Not a fan of cosmetic surgery, she says, “Hindi, ayoko. Magpapa-facial ako, cleaning, ganun lang. Hindi ko alam kasi hindi pa ako interested [doon] sa ngayon e. ’Pag bumaba na yung cheeks ko baka pumasok siya sa isip ko, ’di ba? Pero ngayon, wala [pa].” She then jokes, “Malay mo pagdating ng panahon pinapahid na lang ’yung Botox, ’di ba?”
Enjoying work and the limelight
But Angelica clearly enjoys her job, and this is why it’s important for her to find the proper balance between giving her all to the job and taking care of herself. She loves doing movies because, “Iba ’yung dating sa ’kin ng pelikula kasi feeling ko binabayaran ako ng mga tao, pinipilahan nila, lumalabas sila ng bahay, effort sila para panoorin ka … Dito talagang may binibigay silang panahon at oras sa akin. So malaking bagay sa akin ’yung pelikula … ang long-term niya, panghabang-buhay siya na babalikan at babalikan. Pag-uusapan ng mga tao, hanggang sa mga apo mapapanood nila ’yon.”
She says there’s still a lot more she wants to do. “Gusto kong maging dark, sobrang dark ’yung character. Gusto ko para siyang … Dexter na babae,” says this fan of U.S. TV series like Dexter, American Horror Story, Two Broke Girls and How I Met Your Mother.
Get to know Angelica more, grab a copy of the August issue of HealthToday magazine, out now in bookstores and newsstands.