Actress and host Melai Cantiveros said she never dreamed of entering the showbiz industry and only wanted to become a housewife.
In a guesting during showbiz colleague Bea Alonzo’s Lie Detector vlog uploaded on YouTube on Nov. 12, Cantiveros was asked if she wanted to become an artist.
“Hindi, uy!” she said. “Wala akong imagination na magiging artista sa pagmumukha ko.”
When she was a student at Mindanao State University General Santos, the 35-year-old said her friends egged her on to audition at Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up, joking about whether she’d get accepted amid jokes on her physical appearance.
“Nag-audition ako para sa kaligayahan nila,” she said. Little did she know that she’d actually get accepted. She eventually emerged as the 2009 show’s big winner.
Cantiveros then mentioned her original desire to become a housewife, but not without her signature comic branding of making faces and self-deprecating.
“Gusto ko talagang maging housewife,” she said, “kasi ‘yun lang din ang kaya ng mukha ko. Charing!”
She recalled her former boyfriend, a fisherman, and their would-be life if she didn’t enter showbiz. They broke up before she joined PBB.
“Ta’s uwi-uwi lang siya, gusto ko ‘yung maglalaba-laba lang,” she said. “Simpleng buhay... kuntento na talaga ako kahit di (kami) mayaman.”
Cantiveros eventually got into a relationship with her PBB housemate, Jason Francisco. They married in 2013 and now have two kids, Mela and Stela.
On corporal punishment, pressuring kids in school
Cantiveros said she believes in corporal punishment, noting that “pamamalo” helps instill discipline among her children.
“Napalo din ako ng parents ko. Di ko sila masisisi kasi sobrang tigas ng ulo ko,” she said. “Utang na loob ko sa kanila kung bakit positive thinker ako sa buhay, bakit di ako naiinggit sa mga bagay-bagay.”
“Tough love talaga,” she added. “Wala kakatakutan ‘yan paglaki pag di mo papaluin ‘yan.”
In any case, Cantiveros is an ever-motivating mother, saying she doesn’t pressure her children to excel in school.
On one occasion, she remembered Stela going home with “anxiety” after not perfecting the exam, unlike one classmate. She recalled Mela also flunking a spelling exam.
Cantiveros told Mela, “Walang problema ‘yan. Zero din kami ni papa mo sa spelling dati.”
“Umuwi ka lang dito na masaya ka. Dapat masaya ka sa school. Kung di ka masaya, lilipat tayo sa ibang school,” she said.
“Kung ano lang ang kaya mo i-answer, ‘yun ang blessing mo. Tapos isipin mo si Lord,” she added. “‘Yang academics, matututunan mo ‘yan nang matututunan hanggang tumanda ka. Ilang years ka pa dito sa mundo. Doon ako sa ugali, para pagtanda nila, ‘yun ang dadalhin.”
When asked if she thinks she’s taking for granted little things in her relationship with her family, Cantiveros answered in the affirmative, noting her showbiz job is “time-consuming.”
“Laging wala ako są mga anak ko pag sobrang nagtatrabaho,” she said. “Guilty ako.”
“Mahirap maging career mother,” she added.
Cantiveros is hoping to travel more with her family and visit places like New Zealand and Switzerland.
“Takot ako sa airplane, pero gagawin ko para memories namin,” she said, adding she’d fulfill her children’s dream destinations.
Since winning PBB, Cantiveros appeared in variety shows like ASAP, Banana Sundae, and It’s Showtime; teleseryes like Precious Hearts Romances Presents: Impostor, Maalala Mo Kaya, and Wansapanataym; and movies like Sisterakas, Shake, Rattle & Roll XV, and The Exorsis.
To date, Cantiveros is a cohost of the morning talk show Magandang Buhay alongside Jolina Magdangal and Regine Velasquez. She’s also leading the ensemble cast of Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul, an upcoming comedy action featuring Filipino and South Korean actors.