x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sharon Cuneta, the Filipino megastar who keeps on shining

Ferdinand Godinez looks at the singer and entertainer Sharon Cuneta’s illustrious career ahead of her Dubai concert on Friday.

Sharon Cuneta started out as a singer before moving on to acting. Courtesy Flair Events
Sharon Cuneta started out as a singer before moving on to acting. Courtesy Flair Events

It couldn’t be more fitting: a megastar in a city fond of ­superlatives.

For Filipinos who are based in the UAE, Sharon Cuneta’s forthcoming Dubai concert is a rare event, given the actress and singer’s status as one of the biggest and brightest stars in the history of Filipino entertainment.

Cuneta started her entertainment career as a 12-year-old singer. At an early age, and with the backing of some of the premiere Filipino composers, Cuneta captivated both young and adult listeners with songs such as Mr DJ, Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko and High School Life.

She eventually dabbled in hosting, then acting, thereby making a successful transition from a teenage singer to a bankable screen actress.

Cuneta, now 47, starred in a string of blockbuster movies in the 1980s, progressing from a teenybopper (Dear Heart, PS I Love You) to serious roles (Bukas Luluhod Ang Mga Tala, Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin?, Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas) – all the while being warmly received by critics and audiences.

Her success continued after the 1980s and films such as Madrasta (1996) and Caregiver (2008) furthered Cuneta’s box-office pull. Crying Ladies (2003) earned her a Best Actress Award at the 2004 Brussels International Independent Film Festival.

Career break

Cuneta’s streak of hit movies earned her the moniker “megastar”, a title that would stick and would assure her place alongside some of the best Filipino entertainers.

But, like most people in the spotlight, Cuneta’s career also experienced rough times. Personal issues and changing priorities, brought on by age, marriage and motherhood, forced her to fly under the radar from time to time. But while some artists fail to recover from a lull, Cuneta has always managed to return without hitches.

The mother-of-three is regarded as one of the top product endorsers in the Philippines, with brands reporting a significant jump in income when Cuneta signs as a brand ambassador.

Enduring appeal

That Cuneta has managed to preserve her mass appeal is a big feat in itself. She came from a prominent family – her father was a city mayor for several years. But what she lacked in working-class background, she more than made up with charisma, humility and a wholesome personality – an image that remains, even today.

“I like being commercial,” she said in an interview with Working Mom magazine. “Something can be commercial and meaningful at the same time. People want pure entertainment. They want to escape from their problems. It’s our job to provide the music, the drama, the laughter.”

Music reigns

Having assumed many roles during the course of her career, Cuneta still believes in taking risks and exploring other facets of the entertainment industry. In the same interview, she mentioned her desire to do a stage play: “When you get older, you stop thinking just inside the box.”

But one thing that she keeps coming back to is singing and performing. All her talk shows, both past and present, always incorporate lyrics and melodies. Cuneta’s scheduled Dubai concert reaffirms her love for music, which served as her springboard to stardom.

As an added treat, the concert will also feature her eldest daughter, K C Concepcion. Concepcion, 28, is also involved in show business and, like her mum, dabbles in acting, singing and is also a product endorser.

Cuneta is quick to deflect any career comparison between her and her daughter, however. She admires Concepcion for having the courage to find her own path and not rely solely on her mother’s achievements.

“K C is actually stronger than me,” she said.

• Sharon Cuneta: Christmas in Dubai is on Friday at the Dubai Wonderland Theme and Water Park. Contact 055 997 9474 and 055 574 4954 for ticket ­information

artslife@thenational.ae