MANILA, MAY 30, 2011 (STAR)
CONVERSATIONS With Ricky Lo - Cherry Pie Picache (now and then, bottom) has won every award there is to win, including the recent Artista ng Dekada from Gawad Urian. But nothing can match her son Nio (now and then, inset) who is, she says, my living trophy.’

She’s a versatile actress and a loving single mom.

That best describes Cherry Pie Picache who added one more trophy to her ever-growing collection (the number of which she said she has lost count) with the recent Artista ng Dekada (together with Gina Pareño and Coco Martin) from the Gawad Urian of the Manunuri (film critics), and who considers her nine-year-old son, Jose Antonio “Nio” Tria, as the trophy that counts — “My living trophy,” said Cherry Pie.

Nio is Cherry Pie’s son by Gary Tria whom she describes “as technically a director of photography who also directs and produces.” Ironically, they didn’t meet on the set of a TV show or a movie but on the tennis court. They are not married and yet, according to Cherry Pie, “we are really a family, although somewhat unconventional.”

Although she has won every award there is to win (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, etc.), Cherry Pie claimed that she’s finding it hard to find a “life-long companion.” Suffice it to say that she bags every challenging role in the book but Mr. Right has proven to be elusive so far. Gary could be “it,” but then…

Cherry Pie turned 41 last Friday, May 27, and this piece is Conversations’ tribute to her.

Happy birthday, Cherry Pie. I wonder, at this stage of your life do you still make a birthday wish?

“Of course!”

What’s your birthday wish?

“Good health for my son. ‘Yon lang, actually.”

You got an early birthday gift from Gawad Urian two weeks ago.

“You know, the award from Gawad Urian is very special because that’s for the whole dekada, di ba? For my body of work in the past 10 years. I feel so special because before me, dapat mas marami pang dapat bigyan, di ba? I guess I did something right for the Manunuri to give me that kind of recognition.”

How different is the feeling you got from your first award to the recent one?

“The first award was parang, you know, for yourself, di ba? Parang that was an assurance that I did the right decision. You see, my family was against my being an actress, especially on my father’s side. Until my father died, he wasn’t comfortable with the thought that I was an actress.”

Why naman?

“Kasi lahat ng ibang anak niya nasa academe. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen. He wanted me to be like them.”

There was a basketball player surnamed Picache — Danny Picache, ex-husband of retired actress Blanca Gomez (now based in the US with her children). Are you related to him?

“I think medyo third degree na, malayo na.”

I remember a report years ago that you inherited a fortune from your father.

“That was exaggerated.” (Laughs) “I wish he were around to see me accept my Dekada award. As I said, it’s a special award kasi pang-kalahatan na. I feel that the award also encompasses lahat-lahat na — the working hours, the working conditions and, with the prolonged slump in the industry, the producers’ continued trust in me, and the offers for indie films that keep coming.”

I’m amazed by your durability and your ability to play all kinds of roles with fluid facility — from a lesbian (Kaleldo, an indie by Brillante “Dante” Mendoza), to a sex-crazy advertising girl who preys on unsuspecting aspiring models (Alfred Vargas in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bridal Shower) to a tomboyish pimp (in Mel Chionglo’s Macho Dancer), to a foster mom in Foster Child (also by Mendoza) to an enterprising TV reporter (in Bikini Open) who dies on the job. How do you do it?

“First and foremost, I think it’s because from the very start, ang thrust ko talaga is not to be a star. Kasi kapag star, there are so many restrictions. I really just want to be known as a good actress. Secondly, I think more than that, it’s your attitude toward work. I don’t mind playing a ‘guest’ role if I find it good enough. Kaya nga I’m really grateful for the emergence of indies. The indies give actresses like me a chance to play very good roles.”

What about for your personal life, anong wish mo? Do you still think of settling down or growing old happily single?

“Siguro ‘yan ang fervent prayer ko — to find a life-long companion.”

Oh, you haven’t found one yet?

“Wala pa, eh!”

In movies, you have practically monopolized the good roles and yet, in real life you are having a hard time finding a “life-long companion.” It’s strange!

“Mahirap. Ang hirap! You know, the older you grow, the more choosy you become, naging mapili ka na, especially ako because I have a son.”

What type of a man would be “it”?

“I’m not really very demanding. Gusto ko lang family man, God-fearing at saka responsible. ‘Yon lang. So far, I have already a man in my life — my son Nio. He’s an honor student at Ateneo, from prep school to Grade Two. He plays tennis and football. Recently, nanalo pa ‘yan ng award sa sport. He’s one trophy that counts, my living trophy.”

Is Nio okay with his father?

“Of course, okey silang dalawa. That’s one thing that I want to clarify. I’m not really a single mom like other single moms. Nio’s father is really a father to him. He’s not an absentee father. Every day, magkasama sila. Actually, we are a family. As parents to Nio, Gary and I are very good friends. I have so much respect and love for him and his family. So kahit medyo unconventional ang set-up namin, we are still a family except that Gary and I don’t live together. He’s a very good father and a very good friend. Sobrang bait niya, pati in-laws ko, kaya siguro nahihirapan akong humanap ng life-long partner.”

Is Gary also finding it hard to find his own “life-long partner?”

“Ewan ko sa kanya!” (Laughs again) “Parang hindi!”

Due to a medical procedure earlier that week, Cherry Pie almost didn’t make it to the Gawad Urian. Son Nio was her escort.

Name three of your memorable roles.

“’Yung sa Bridal Shower. The other is in Kaleldo. I also like my role in the indie I’m doing, Isda, directed by Adolf Alix Jr. Ang role ko d’un babaing nanganak ng isda. What I also want to do is a passionate adult love story, like ‘yung Bridges of Madison County ni Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.”

Any dream role?

“Yes — as a wife in real life. Talaga! Right now, I’m only a mom, not a wife. My fervent prayer is to lead a simple life. I want to work, I want to go home to my family at alagaan ang asawa at anak ko. ‘Yon lang.”

What’s your guiding principle as an actress?

“Simple lang. Honesty and sincerity in immersing himself in a character. Sa akin, ‘yun ang pinaka-importante. Idagdag mo na rin ang attitude.”

By the way, how do you feel that Baron Geisler is responding positively to the program at a rehab center that he entered three months ago? (Cherry Pie accused Baron of touching her breasts during a shoot for an ABS-CBN soap.)

“I spoke up not so much for me as for the young girls who might find themselves in the same situation. Ako naman, adult na, kaya ko na. Actually, doon sa nangyari a lot of things were said. ‘Yung ginawa niya sa akin maybe hindi intentional, kumbaga may edad na ako so hindi na talaga harassment. Just as he said hindi na naman siguro niya ako pagnanasaan. Ang ano ko lang, behavior. Kasi he was intoxicated when it happened. I heard na okey na siya doon sa rehab. I’m happy to hear that.”

Anyway, have you forgiven him?

“Yes, I have. Sana ‘yung rehab would make him a better person, for his own good.”

Would you like to work with him again?

“Sure, why not? But I have to be sure that he would really behave.”

Decisions you’ve made in life, right or wrong. Do you regret any of them?

“Hmmmm, maybe I should have been less adventurous when I was young. Dala ng kabataan. As my mother would put it, buntot mo hila mo. Naintindihan mo na ‘yon, di ba? ‘Yon lang! At hindi masyadong naging matigas ang ulo.” By the way, I’m truly grateful for all the blessings; there’s no room for any complaint.”

Aside from being once adventurous, what are you really like, a pessimist or an optimist?

“An optimist. His will be done. That’s my mantra.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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