September, 1994
by: Lee Quesada and Rey Carolino of the QC Ventures







(by Lee Quesada)

We can't think of a better place to do the interview with Lea Salonga than the Internet. There was no need to book an appointment and go through the usual red tapes. We composed the questions on our IBM-compatible PC at times most convenient to us (ie, at night in the absence of a Toronto Blue Jays game to watch). Next, we unplugged our telephone set and connected our modem to the phone line. Using a communication program called Telix, we had the modem phoned CRS Online (a computer bulletin board service in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada) and sent (uploaded) our questionnaire to Lea. This upload process took no more than 3 minutes. The questionnaire was then transmitted by CRS Online to the various intermediary networks on the Internet until it reached its destination- America Online (where Lea has her Internet account).

Lea, who has her home base in New York City, was in California at the time of our interview shooting her latest movie, Redwood Curtain (due for showing next February at ABC). Luckily for us, she carries a laptop computer with her (a Mac) which allowed her to logon to America Online anytime, anywhere. In less than a day, we got our questionnaire back from Lea with all her wonderful answers. In this unique interview, we came to know Lea's inner beauty and quiet intelligence. Thank you, for this opportunity, Lea!

From here, we share with our readers in Toronto the joys and pleasure she gave us during the interview.....

[The following is the full text of our Interview with Lea Salonga done last September, 1994 via the Internet. Only part of the interview appeared in the printed edition of the QC CHATTER due to space limitation].


QC :  What kind of computer/s and operating system do you use?

Lea:  I use a Macintosh Performa 405 using System 7.1P5 and a Macintosh Powerbook 180 using System 7.1.

QC :
  What application programs do you often use?

Lea: I use Microsoft Word 5.1 (but I've already purchased the upgrade to version 6.0 which has yet to be shipped to me), America Online 2.1, ZTerm 0.9, ResEdit 2.1.1, Delrina Daily Planner (The Far Side), and games like Shanghai and Carmen World.

QC :
How does your computer help you in your work?

It helps when I need resumes and biographies printed/faxed, letters and fax notes done, journals and organizers, and other productivity uses.

QC :
at home?

Lea: Games, games and more games! Budgets, expenses, color painting and drawing applications.

What kind of printer do you use with your PC?

Lea: I use a Personal Laserwriter 300.

QC: Do you have a CD-ROM?

Lea: Yes, I do.

On average, how many hours do you use your computer every day?

Lea: A few hours every day, at least 2-3.

How long have you been using America Online? Why not Compuserve or Delphi or other online services?

Lea: I find it easy to use AOL compared to other services. It has the GUI that makes things easy to find. I've been using it for over a year.

On average, how many e-mails do you receive daily? Where do they come from mainly? Do you receive emails from the Philippines?

Lea: I must receive around 30-40 pieces of email a day. From the Philippines? Around 10.

How did you discover SCF? How long did you lurk in the newsgroup before you wrote your first article?

Lea: I wrote my first article when I first saw the newsgroup. There was some stuff I had to respond to when I saw it. I found it by searching for Filipino/Philippines newsgroups using the search command of AOL.

QC: What other newsgroups (aside from SCF) and AOL forums do you monitor?

Lea: I also check out the rec.arts.theatre.musicals, rec.arts.tv, and alt.tv.lois-n-clark groups.

Do you archive any SCF articles or your emails?

Lea: I save a few of the articles if they're especially funny or moving. Same foes for the mail.

Some people claim that you don't personally read and respond your e-mails and that your publicist or agent does it for you? Any comment?

Lea: As of now I don't have a publicist, and my manager isn't as well-versed in the email world as I am. I don't know why people think I don't personally read the email I receive, especially when the answers I give could only be given by me. There is information not even my manager knows.

What do you think of the Information Superhighway?

Lea: It's a great way to pass the time for one, and I am able to gather news and information as well as popular opinion from here. It allows for easy communication with other users...it's a good way to make new friends.


QC: At what age did you start your acting/singing career?

Lea: Seven years old in a production of "The King And I."

What do you intend to do with your life when you retire or when your showbiz career is over?

Lea: I intend to concentrate on having a family life and raising children and being married.

Would you say your singing or acting styles have been greatly influenced by someone(s) in particular? If so, by whom?

Lea: I don't know who directly influenced my style, although I do remember hearing The Carpenters, The Osmonds, Abba and Olivia Newton-John being heavily played when I was growing up.

Which movie, concert, song or play that you did in the past do you cherish the most? Why?

Lea: I cherished doing Miss Saigon and Les Miz the most. Miss Saigon because it was the first big break I got internationally, and Les Miz because no other Asian woman had ever played that role on Broadway.

What part of showbiz life do you love the most? Which part do you hate?

Lea: Love- the performing, the work, the emotional gratification, the people I get to meet, traveling, press conferences. Hate- not knowing if someone comes close because he/she genuinely likes you, or because you're a celebrity, the waiting around, very long days, long nights, performing in winter, other celebrities who are snobs, negative write-ups, invasion of privacy by some members of the press, fans who pinch and cause other forms of physical pain. The good stuff cancels out the bad stuff though...and it's all worthwhile in the end.

Do you intend to pursue your showbiz career in the Philippines someday or do you intend to stay in the US for good?

Lea: I travel to and from Manila so I still maintain my career over there. You could say I am "bi-regional" in that way. I will probably settle down in Manila for good when I get married (if I marry someone from Manila) as I think it's a great place to raise children. Hopefully when the time comes for that, that will still hold true.

With regards to your career, do you make all the decision yourself or are your decisions heavily influenced by your parents or anyone else?

Lea: My mom, agent, lawyer and manager help me make decisions about projects to accept and those to turn down, and in general make moves that will be beneficial to my career.

Given a choice, would you rather: (a) cut a record; (b) do a concert; (c) act in a play; (d) do a movie; (e) do anything else except showbiz

Lea: What???  No "all of the above?" Seriously, I would pick (c), just because I feel most comfortable on stage.

How would you compare the entertainment industry in the US with that in the Philippines?

Lea: I think the industry in the US is more professionally run compared to the Philippines. We still have a lot to learn, as the Americans do have a long tradition of theatre and movie-making. Punctuality is one issue, plus good writing, and just basically getting things done as smoothly as possible.

Showbiz personalities have been dominating Philippine politics. What do you think of this trend? If you were asked to become a candidate by one of the political parties in the Philippines in a future election, will you consider it?

Lea: I have no problem with the trend as long as the people running are truly qualified to lead the country as representatives in the Senate and Congress, as well as in other political positions. If the candidate is banking purely on popularity to win and not his ability to lead the people, then I am not in favor of it at all.

How long did you play the role of Kim in Miss Saigon? Do you still play that role these days? Did you play that role somewhere else aside from London and New York City? Would you be willing to play it again later given the right opportunity?

Lea: I played that role for a total of 2 years and three months, in both London and New York. I left the Broadway company in March 1992 and have not played the role since. Because I've already done the role in two productions, I don't feel it would be right to do it again. Another young lady should have the opportunity to do it.

Did the love and strip-tease scenes at Miss Saigon bothered you a lot when you were deliberating whether or not to accept the role? How long did it take you to really feel at ease with those scenes (or didn't you?)? How did your boyfriend react to those?

Lea: I didn't have a boyfriend while I was in Miss Saigon (speaking of which, I no longer have one, but he did see the show shortly after it opened in New York) so no one was bothered.

As part of your training for the role, did you go to a live strip tease club to observe and study your role?

Lea: No, I didn't have to, but the director did tell us what it was like (he went to a couple in Manila).

When the Canadian promoters of Miss Saigon were searching for their lead role, you met with them here in Toronto. What was the meeting all about? Were you offered the role? Did you refuse the offer?

Lea: They were just being gracious hosts, and took me to see the Princess Of Wales theatre while it was still under construction. They also took me out to dinner and treated me to a night of Les Miserables. I was never offered the role in the Toronto production.

Have you seen the Canadian production of Miss Saigon yet?

Lea: Nope, not yet.

Are there any plans for you to perform here in Canada in the near future?

Lea: Perhaps, but nothing in the very near future.

If there are any interested promoters wishing to get your services, can they cut a deal via the Internet? Does your agent or manager has an Internet address?

Lea: I don't think so. Matters like this are usually done the old-fashioned way: faxes and telephone calls!

QC : Filipinos living abroad have mixed feelings towards the Ruffagate scandal. On one hand, there are those who were embarrassed by the incident receiving worldwide coverage. On the other hand, some people think it should not bother them at all. How did you feel?

Lea: As an actress I was shocked that anyone would even try this, especially in the presence of the Mayor of Manila! I was disappointed that people I had met in the business were involved in something like this...all I hope is that no one will try it again in the future. It should not be forgotten.

Some people think that the benefits derived in holding this year's Miss Universe in Manila did not justify the costs our government spent in sponsoring it? Do you agree?

Lea: If the benefits outweigh the costs, then it was indeed worth it. If not, then it was a waste of time. Hopefully because of the telecast promoting our country's scenic spots, more tourists will consider visiting the Philippines.


QC: How young are you now? When's your birthday?

Lea: I am 23 years old, and my birthday is on February 22.

QC: What kind of a man are you looking for as your lifetime partner?

Lea: Someone kind, understanding, humble, secure with himself, intelligent, with a great sense of humor, affectionate, considerate, good with children, and of course, cute!!! He must be someone beside whom I can wake up every morning and not ask myself, "WHY???"

QC :
How many children do you like to have?

Lea: Two or three.

Would you prefer your future husband to be:
(a) in showbiz?
(b) a Filipino?
(c) older than you are?

Lea: (b) & (c). My maturity level is a tad higher than most people my age (even if I have not experienced many of the things they have by the time 23 rolls around, like driving on the freeway) because of the nature of my work, so I would like the man to have an equal or higher maturity level. Also, I prefer Filipino men to any other, just because they seem to be more gentlemanly compared to most others. I don't know; I guess I'm just biased.

Are you in favour of a live-in relationship?

Lea: Only if the two are married. Then they'd better be living together!

Are you in favour of legalizing divorce in the Philippines?

Lea: Yes. There are marriages that are not good for either the man or the woman (for example, cases of adultery or physical abuse). Thus it is better for both if the marriage was dissolved. I know of a few unions that were better off broken; that's the way life goes. The divorce however should not be taken advantage of, and I still believe in marriages lasting forever.

Could you briefly describe to us a typical week-day for you?

Lea: A typical weekday? Right now, I get up at 6AM and dress up to get ready for work which usually starts an hour or so later. then I work a 12 hour day before going home. When I don't work, I usually stay in bed until late morning then either go to dance class or the gym.

How about a typical week-end?

Lea: On Saturday, I go to a dance class or a gym, then on Sunday I go to mass.

What is the title of the movie you are currently filming? What kind of a movie is it? When will it be shown?

Lea: It's called "Redwood Curtain" and it will be shown or ABC in February before Valentines.

What sports do you like to play? to watch?

Lea: To play: volleyball and table tennis. To watch: basketball, gymnastics, figure skating.

Did you finish college? What course?

Lea: No, I didn't finish, but I go through one year of pre-med at Ateneo.

When do you plan to go back to Manila? For how long?

Lea: I plan to go back for the Christmas holidays, and will probably stay for a couple of months. Hopefully longer.

Why do you think a lot of Filipinos prefer to settle here in America?

Lea: I think because the opportunities for professional advancement are greater here...for example, I don't think I would have gotten the opportunities I have been getting if I stayed in Manila. Doctors salaries are higher here, and the nurses earn much more. There are sacrifices to be made of course, but the professional climb is better.

How would you rate President Ramos' administration?

Lea: He's truly trying to make things better. The country has indeed improved since going under his rule. It's still early to say.

How about Cory Aquino's?

Lea: She could have done better. A lot of the administration was of "purging" the country of all reminders of the Marcos regime, even some of the good things. I personally didn't see too much improvement during her time.

QC :
And how about the Marcos administration?

Lea: History has already chronicled enough of it. No more needs to be said.

What/who are your all-time favourite:

(a) song- too many to mention!

(b) movie- Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, Breakfast At Tiffany's

(c) play - Les Miserables

(d) singers - Barbra Streisand, Beverly Craven, Toto

(e) sports personalities - Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kristi Yamaguchi

(f) actor/actress - Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins

(g) tv show - Sisters, Lois And Clark

(h) radio station - any that plays jazz, light rock

(i) subject in college - botany

(j) foods/drinks - fruit of any kind (except durian), juice, soy milk

(k) pet - what else? A dog!

(l) book - Mutation by Robin Cook

(m) magazine - People, and all the supermarket check-out tabloids!

(n) periodical - New York Times, Philippine Star

(o) professional sports team - The NY Knicks

(p) season of the year - fall and spring

(q) day of the year - Christmas

(r) place in the Philippines? - home.

(s) place in America? - San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA, NEW YORK CITY

Given a chance to relive a day in your past, what day would you choose and why?

Lea: The day I got an A in my Math final (Ateneo).

Are you a practicing Catholic?

Lea: Yes, attend mass every Sunday.

At your very young age, you've accomplished a lot of things that most actors/actresses would never have accomplished in their entire showbiz life. Is there something else you are aiming for in your career?

Lea: An Oscar, an Emmy, and a Grammy in my cabinet. Of course they have to be mine.

End of Interview


This interview was conducted by Rey Carolino and Lee Quesada for the FALL, 1994 edition of the QC CHATTER, a newsletter published by the QC Ventures for the Filipino community in the metropolitan Toronto, Ontario, Canada area. The QC CHATTER is now part of the FILIPINO TODAY community newspaper published by Jun Cruz <bh470@torfree.net>.

Back issues of the QC CHATTER Newsletters are available in the FILIPINO COMMUNITY COMPUTING SECTOR (FCCS) of the Toronto Free-Net which is accessible by TELNET to: torfree.net. Login as "guest" in small letters. At any command prompt, type "go fccs" to go to the FCCS Main Menu. Choose "Filipino Publications- Online Edition" from the main menu.

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