MANILA, JANUARY 16, 2012 (STAR) FUNFARE UPDATE By Ricardo F. Lo - Her left foot in brace, injured while skateboarding in the US, Charice opens her mom Raquel Pempengco’s belated ‘debut’ (at 40) with Louder, a song from her own album

Better late than never.

Because her mom, Raquel Pempengco, was never able to celebrate her 18th birthday in a grand style due to lack of funds, her daughter Charice saw to it that Raquel would have her belated “debut” when she turned 40.

With black as motif, the party was held last Saturday night at a resort in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, complete with the amenities of a “debut,” including the offering of 18 Roses, 18 Candles, 40 Gifts and, yes, a Cotillion, with the mother and daughter’s kababayan as participants together with a few showbiz celebrities, only two of them, Charice’s contemporaries Rap Salazar and Makisig Morales, were able to make it.

The venue was far from Manila (two hours drive, traffic included) and that, plus the fact that the invitations came too late (a day before the event), must have prevented other $0 Gifts participants from going including Charo Santos, Dr. Vicki Belo, Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino.

But the party proceeded without any hitch, kicked off by Charice’s Philippine manager Grace Mendoza who thanked the guests for helping the “debutante” celebrate probably the most wonderful night of her life — “My mom’s dream come true,” said Charice. Raquel was radiant in her Avel Bacudio gown, smiling like a blushing (real) debutante, as she was escorted by son Carl. She was teary-eyed as she listened to Charice dedicate the song You Are So Beautiful To Me, after she sang Louder (from her own album) at the start of the party.

Before the party, Funfare Update did a one-on-one with Charice who was wearing a brace around her left foot which was injured during a skateboarding incident in the US. She was on a wheelchair when she arrived on a PAL flight from L.A. early Tuesday morning last week, and on crutches when she arrived at the party.

Why a debut for your mom at 40?

“It was my idea. My mom didn’t experience a debut on her 18th birthday. It’s my way of thanking her for everything that she has done and is doing to me.”

Why black as motif?

“Black and red are my mom’s favorite colors. Pero hindi naman okey na naka-pula kami dahil kamamatay lang ni daddy (Ricky Pempengco, Charice’s estranged father, was killed in October last year. — RFL).”

Di ba maganda na nagkabati kayo ng relatives mo sa father side dahil sa trahedyang ‘yon?

“’Yon nga, eh. Bakit kailangan pang mangyari ang ganoon para magkaayos at magkasama-sama kam?”

Aside from this party, what other gift did you give your mom?

“An iPhone 4S kasi mahilig siya mag-collect ng phones. It’s also useful para palagi kami makapag-usap because I’m based in the US and she’s here managing some business; inaayos niya ang building na ipinapatayo namin.”

Kumusta ang buhay ‘Tate?

“Okey naman because I’m learning how to be independent. I do everything myself…cleaning the house, preparing my food and doing the groceries, pati pagtapon ng basura. I’m learning how to budget my money.”

Your picture on the cover of Preview magazine generated a controversy because according to some people hindi mo na raw kamukha.

“Ano pa ba ang maaasahan mo? Siguro nanibago sila dahil naka-bangs ako. Actually, all they did was erase the pimple on my face. Palagay ko part na ng culture ng ibang tao na punahin ang anumang gawin ko. What can I do? Nagpapasalamat na lang ako na at least nalalagay pa rin sa news ang pangalan ko.”

Daming nangyari sa buhay mo n’ung 2011. What’s the best lesson that you learned from it?

“Na huwag mag-skateboard, hehehehe!” (Seriously now) “I think I should focus even more on my career.” (Charice is leaving on Wednesday, Jan. 18, maybe after the shoot for a Valentine special for GMA. She’s also scheduled to do concerts in Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan in March.)

What about her love life? Mayroon na bang Valentine?

“Wala pa po. For me, it doesn’t really matter kung sino man ang dumating.” (She’s turning 20 in May.)

Towards the end of the interview, Charice admitted that she’s not perfect, “tao lang po ako,” so she may unwittingly displease people, and thanked those who continue to support her, assuring them that she’s always been the same Charice.

Participants in the offering of the 40 Gifts were asked to explain their gifts. What I found most meaningful was the message from Bum Tenorio, assistant editor of this paper’s Sunday section Allure and the Pempengcos’ neighbor and old friend, and Charice’s ninong (like your columnist).

He gave Raquel camote chips and banana chips and some banaba tea from nearby EchoStore. Asked why, Bum said, “The chips should remind her of our past, that deep inside she’s still a probinsyana. Like Charice who may have acquired an American accent, when she goes back to our beloved Barrio Gulod in Cabuyao, Laguna, she should still have our barrio accent.”

Well said. Charice should bear that in mind.































Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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