[PHOTO - Pokwang in The Mommy Returns, Regal Films’ Mother’s Day offering, with Gabby Concepcion (left) and Ruffa Gutierrez among her co-stars]

MANILA, MAY 11, 2012 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - In a week’s time, it’s Mother’s Day and once again Pokwang will be wrestling with the painful memory of the six-year-old son Shin that she lost while she was working abroad, not allowed by her employer to come home for the funeral.

“On that day (May 13),” Pokwang told reporters during a mini-presscon for The Mommy Returns, Regal Films’ Mother’s Day offering, in which she plays Gabby Concepcion’s deceased wife who continues to haunt Ruffa Gutierrez as Gabby’s new wife, “I will be in Boracay to celebrate my daughter Ria Mae’s 15th birthday the next day (May 14), with my mother and my bachelor brother. We are booked for three days. Matagal ko nang plano ‘yan,” added Pokwang who is one of 12 siblings. “Ngayon lang natuloy.”

She has to beg off from the shoot of the ABS-CBN Aryana (as the mother of Ella Cruz playing the title role as a mermaid) and the Star Cinema movie The Healing (topbilled by Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos and directed by Chito Roño).

In 1998 while she was working in Abu Dhabi, Pokwang received the sad news that her son died of a congenital brain ailment.

“Of course, I felt guilty na wala man lang ako sa tabi ng anak ko nang kailangang-kailangan niya ako,” admitted Pokwang, the wacky comedienne (suspected to be the “reincarnation” of Aruray) who in real life is a serious mother. She changed moods from sadly reflective to hilariously comedic. “Shin was made in the Philippines, pero assembled by a Japanese. I met his father here before I went to Japan. Magulo ang relasyon namin. Away kami nang away, nagbabatuhan kami ng kung anu-ano, nagsasakitan kami talaga, that’s why the baby inside me was badly affected. Kawawa naman siya. When the baby was born, kami ng ama niya nagbabatuhan kami ng crib.”

Ria Mae was also sired by a Japanese whom Pokwang met in Japan where she worked as a dancer.

“I never lived with my children’s fathers,” Pokwang said. “Nabuntis lang nila ako.”

Still haunted by the death of Shin, Pokwang is over-protective of Ria. In the four-storey house that she has built in Antipolo City, Ria has her own room but she’d rather sleep with her mom — “Malambing siya because I’m always out of the house working and we seldom see each other.”

Pokwang saw to it that Shin also has his own room which is filled with mementoes about his short life (pictures, etc.).

Is she a strict mom, especially when it comes to her daughter’s suitors?

“Not really,” said Pokwang. “She doesn’t want to have a boyfriend yet. Ako, maaga akong lumandi. I was only 17 when I started. I was 19 when I got pregnant and 20 when I gave birth. If ever, gusto ko ‘yung liligaw sa anak ko ay bumisita naman sa bahay, huwag sa labas.”

Single for a long time now, Pokwang said she’s wary about prospective suitors who might be only after her money — “And not,” she added, laughing aloud, “my body.” Luckily, she qualified, she hasn’t met that type because she’s a homebody. “Hindi ako palalabas ng bahay so paano ako makapaglalandi?”

In The Mommy Returns, directed by Joel Lamangan, Pokwang got a chance to kiss Gabby in the scene where the half-asleep Gabby, thinking that he’s embracing Ruffa, plants a kiss on the ghost Pokwang’s lips.

“Smack lang,” said Pokwang. “Sayang, hindi ko masyadong nalasap.”

Gabby himself admitted at the earlier presscon that he wanted to do a movie with Pokwang when he performed at a US show with Pokwang a few years ago. The Mommy Returns is therefore a dream come true for both of them.

Asked by reporters who between Ai-Ai de las Alas and Vice Ganda did she look up to as role model, Pokwang said without any second thought, “Ai-Ai talaga without a doubt.”

She explained, “I have nothing against Vice Ganda. Mahusay siya, maganda ang istilo. But over-all, Ai-Ai is tops for me. As a mother, she’s able to raise her children by herself. Let’s admit the fact that Ai-Ai has been in the industry for a long time and she hasn’t changed, hindi siya nag-iba. Marami pa rin ang nagmamahal sa kanya.”

Did she ever let success go to her head?

“You know, it can happen to anybody in the business pero nasa sa’yo ‘yon how you handle it. I admit that I went through it but not for long. I asked myself where I went wrong at kinorek ko kung ano man ‘yon.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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