If there’s one thing that baffles actress and TV host Sam Pinto about her work, it’s being the object of fan worship. On a recent trip to Palawan, for example, it took her half an hour just to walk from the airport check-in counter to her gate because she had to stop frequently for fans waving their cameras hopefully. All this despite Sam wearing a quasi-disguise: huge sunglasses that hid half her face, her hair up in a messy bun, and an outfit that was so low-key you wouldn’t think an actress owned one like it.
“Our flight was already boarding but there I was, still far away from the gate, smiling for the cameras,” says Sam. “I couldn’t believe it; I had to ask my PA (personal assistant), ‘Mukha pa rin ba akong si Sam Pinto?’” Apparently, yes.
The constant spotlight was switched on when she won the top spot in a men’s magazine’s annual sexiest women magazine poll for two years straight. Suddenly, after she won for the second time, wherever she went and however she disguised herself, people still recognized her.
“It’s actually really hard holding the top position [in the contest],” Sam quips. “People expect you to be sexy all the time. E alangan namang naka-panty at bra lang ako every time I go out.”
Fortunately for Sam, she skirts the black hole of stereotyped celebrities quite successfully by insisting that people see her as herself, not as a sexy goddess. And so, for this cover shoot, she sits on the makeup chair without airs, unconcerned that her statements might be construed as, gasp, un-sexy. “Outside, I usually wear just shorts and a t-shirt,” says Sam, who isn’t your typical voluptuous celebrity. In fact, she leans toward the skinny side. And she doesn’t mind this at all.
Further breaking stereotypes, Sam, 22, has also managed to keep her childlike manner despite belonging to an industry that, inexplicably, tries to age its performing members.
Talk to her and you’ll find out that Sam still hasn’t outgrown giggling. Every other sentence is peppered with it: “I’m so mababaw. I love it when I get free stuff because of my work. (Giggle.) When I travel for work, sometimes I get moved up to business class. And I enjoy that. (Giggle.)”
And although Sam has been in the public eye since she was 10 years old—her first project was as a model on a soft drink poster¬—she still can't help but get starstruck with her more veteran co-stars.
“When I was taping for Si Agimat, si Enteng at Ako (with Vic Sotto, Bong Revilla, Jr., and Judy Ann Santos), I was so excited to work with Judy Ann Santos,” says Sam. “I first met her on the day that we were going to shoot our first scene together. And in my head, all I was saying was, ‘I don’t wanna screw up. I don’t wanna screw up.” She didn’t, and so the film is being completed to compete in the Metro Manila Filmfest this December.
Including this one, Sam has already done seven films since she gained mini-celebrity status in 2008, when she became a MYX VJ Search finalist. In 2009, she cemented her image in the public’s mind by getting into Big Brother’s house in the reality TV series Pinoy Big Brother (PBB): Double Up. Although she got the boot in early 2010, her audience didn’t forget her. Currently, Sam is busy with the music variety show Party Pilipinas, the gag show Bubble Gang, and preparing for the epic fantaserye coming out in January 2013 in which she plays a moon deity, all with GMA.
When Sam was six years old, her parents separated. Sam and her older sister were raised by their single mom, a lawyer, whom Sam is very close to. As the baby of the family for a long time (she has two much younger half-sisters), Sam enjoyed the loosey-goosey parenting style of her mother. “My mom’s really cool,” she says. “I can do whatever I want as long as it’s within certain bounds.”
The day after her high school graduation, Sam tested those boundaries. She came home with a tattoo on her foot, and all she said to her mother was, “Surprise!” Obviously not one to be neurotically overprotective, Sam’s mother’s reaction was simple and practical. She just said, “Do not complain [about the pain].”
Being her mom’s baby, Sam understandably had some adjustments to make when she first stepped foot inside Big Brother’s house, at 19 years old. “I’ve been babied my whole life. Everything was spoonfed to me,” she admits. “So pagpasok ko sa PBB, everything was a challenge, especially getting used to having all those cameras follow me around. But after a week, I got used to it. And I kept surprising myself with stuff I could do myself after all. ‘Whoa, kaya ko pala ‘to,’ I’d often say.”
Three days after Sam’s audition for PBB, she became an official housemate. It was such a surreal experience, she says, that she forgot to pack underwear and sleepwear for her stay in the house. Her stay at Big Brother’s house was her baptism into independence.
Anything-goes fitness and beauty regimen
Sam’s fit and slim frame is not a product of surgery, crazy dieting, or working out. She doesn’t do any of those things. Neither does she do yoga, which many credit for weight loss.
Sam says. “I tried [yoga] once and, literally, I got a nosebleed. I was doing it for 10 minutes when I felt something on my upper lip. I thought, ‘May sipon pala ako.’ But when I brushed my hand on my lip, I found blood! And I wasn’t even doing Bikram yoga. It was just normal yoga. So obviously, that isn’t for me.”
Working out is not an option for Sam, either. She’s allergic to her own sweat, which turns her neck into a ragged patch of red rashes. This is another reason, apart from her love for water, that she prefers water sports over the gym. “Besides, my only gym clothes are big pantulog t-shirts. I don’t even know what kind of shorts to wear. Nakakahiya pumunta sa gym,” laughs Sam. “So if I ever do exercise, I just do it at home, with DVD’s.”
Sam complements her activities with a healthy diet, most of the time. She drinks veggie juice every day, prepared at home with a juicer. The ingredients may sound funky: bell peppers, cucumbers, apples, carrots, beets, and ampalaya—but she swears by it. “It doesn’t taste as bad as it sounds,” she explains. “You just have to put a lot of apples in to mask the taste of the others.”
“I need to have small meals every two hours to keep my energy up,” Sam says, and although she does make an effort to eat healthy, she’s not a slave to it. When she can’t wait to eat, she doesn’t feel guilty about grabbing fast food. “Burgers are just so good to eat,” she admits.
For the holidays, Sam vows to stick to her frequent small meals, despite the numerous temptations that Christmas parties inevitably bring. Although keeping weight consistent during these events is difficult for many, Sam knows how to deal with it: “Patikim-tikim lang during parties,” she says. Don’t get a big plate and fill it with everything on the buffet table.
About her beauty secrets, Sam has none. “I’m the most tamad person to put anything on my body,” she says. “But lately, I’ve already been using sunblock because I’ve been getting freckles. At night, I remove my makeup. If I don’t, I wake up in the morning with aching eyes and everything’s blurry.”
For more on this sexy surfer girl, grab the November issue of HealthToday magazine, out now in bookstores and newsstands.