Just like many of the celebrities out there, former ABS-CBN president Charo Santos-Concio tries to stay busy amid the pandemic. The 65-year old is now able to play Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on the piano.
She sat down with Noel Ferrer for his YouTube show Level Up as a celebration of his 30 years in the media industry. Vilma Santos and Judy Ann Santos were also present.
Not a lot of things changed with her routine, she shared.
“I did not have much adjustments to make…Okay lang sa akin ang tahimik na buhay. Enjoy ako watching K-dramas and reading,” she said.
Her cardio also improved and she can now spend more time on the treadmill.
“Before, tinitignan ko lang at dinadaan-daanan ko lang.”
“I wouldn’t last ten minutes on the treadmill. Bababa na agad ako. These days, nakaka-30 minutes na ako. You just go with the flow,” she said.
Santos-Concio attended webinars on how the mind works which made her “learn to pause and appreciate stillness.”
Her family dynamics also changed.
“You know, I have a blended home,” she said.
“My husband [Cesar Concio] has six children from his first marriage and we have two sons. That family has grown bigger through the years. Ang dami ng mga apo and in-laws.
“We have to observe protocols. We have to limit the gatherings to 10. So I schedule the lunch. Since the groups are smaller, we have more intimate and deeper conversations,” she added.
Food is important in the family, and her husband is the “king” of the kitchen.
Food remains the center of attraction of their family conversations. “‘Yung husband ko, mahilig kumain at magluto. We have division of assignments. So I told him, ‘In the kitchen, you’re the king.’ He’s the one taking care of the menu. Siya talaga.
“I know how to cook, if it’s really needed. But I really don’t cook. Para wala ng away. Ako, my assignment is the order in the house and making sure everything is organized. You have to recognize each other’s strengths. Ikaw diyan, ako dito. Ang accountability for you,” she said.
Santos-Concio’s short-lived singing career in 1978 was brought up during the interview. Her single “Nangangamba” was released under Sunshine Records. She told Tito Sotto, who at the time was her album producer, that this career path might not be the right one for her.
“Maghunos-dili tayo. Hindi yata ‘yan ang path ko,” she said.
She recalled joining ABS-CBN in January of 1987.
“We only had one telephone line, wooden chairs, shared tables, one comfort room. We only had one camera. Kasama ka sa lahat ng improvements na nangyari sa network.
“Kasama ka sa lahat ng efforts para mapaganda ang mga programa at magustuhan ng audience ang mga programa. Nakita mong lumaki ang network. I can liken it to parenting,” she shared.
ABS-CBN’s signing of a young Judy Ann Santos was something she’d never forget. Santos-Concio knew she was special when she discovered her on IBC 13.
“I saw Judy Ann in ‘Ula, ang Batang Gubat.’ I said to myself, ‘Nakakatuwa naman itong batang ito. She has the makings of a really big star.’ I alerted top management at that time. Nakitaan ko na siya ng presence, gift for drama, talent for acting, amo ng mukha. ‘Trudis Liit’ din ‘yan,” she said.
Santos-Concio saw the young actress as a future “superstar” so she worked on getting her to sign with ABS-CBN.
“Back in 1987, the ratings would arrive every month. They went to town and told news, ‘You better shape up or else, there was this program.’ But I told them, ‘Yung batang ‘yun, she would become the next superstar. We should get her. Bata pa lang siya, talagang fan na ako ni Juday.” she said.
ABS-CBN’s shutdown only brought Santos-Concio “extreme sadness.”
“I couldn’t describe the pain when ABS-CBN was shut down.”
“I felt so much pain and extreme sadness. That was very traumatic for me, as well, even if I am retired from the company,” she admitted.
She likened the pain to a mother who lost her child.
“Parang sakit ng isang ina na ipinag-buntis mo ‘yung anak mo ng siyam na buwan. Iniluwal mo, pinalaki mo, inaruga mo. Tapos nakita mo na pinatay at wala kang magawa. Helpless ka. Masakit. I’m still grieving.”
Santos-Concio remembered when she chose to become an actress instead of a TV hosting career.
She promised her father that she would stay far away from the show business but an “unexpected and happiest moment” broke that promise when Baby K. Jimenez notified her that she won the best actress at the Asian Film Festival.
“She told me I had won best actress at the Asian Film Festival. I did not even know the film joined that festival. That was a turning point in my life,” she said.
But even with her status, Santos-Concio may never get into politics. She revealed that she turned down offers to run for senate.
“Hindi ko naiisip ang buhay pulitika,” Santos-Concio said.
She’d rather help the Filipino people without publicity.
“Wala siya sa DNA ko. It’s not in my consciousness. I don’t chart my life. I will just look forward to learning ‘Easy Piano Pieces.’ Hindi ko talaga alam ang buhay pulitika. I will just choose to do my kind of public service the quiet way.”
Santos-Concio also learned a lot from the best actors in Philippine cinema, such as “Da King” Fernando Poe Jr. She first starred with Poe in Armando Herrera’s “Durugin si Totoy Bato” in 1979.
“Si Ronnie, his aura, without any effort, is the aura of a star. He commands attention and respect. He can be the most quiet person in a crowded room and yet, people’s attention will be focused on him. That’s the mark of a real star. Even if he doesn’t say anything, naka-ngiti lang. He has gravitas. He’s a great storyteller.”
They worked together again on “Batas sa Aking Kamay” and on “Aguila (1980),” a film where she was a character and the narrator.
She was awarded the Fernando Poe, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award at the 36th Luna Awards.
Christopher de Leon, is one of the most handsome actors she worked with, she said.
“Si Boyet, crush ng bayan ‘yan,” Santos-Concio said. “He was one of the most handsome actors. Kami, talagang naging magbarkada at magka-ibigan. Even if we don’t see each other, I know he will always be there for me. I will always be here for him.
They starred together in Mike de Leon’s “Kakabakaba Ka Ba” (1980).
“One time, may outing kami sa Mindoro, tumakas kami, nagbangka kami. Lumakas ‘yung waves. ‘Yung alon pumasok sa bangka. Nalulunod na talaga ako. Nag-act of contrition na ako. Nag-goodbye na ako. But lo and behold, Boyet pulled me out of the water.
“With gratitude talaga, I am still around because once upon a time, Boyet saved me from drowning. He later told me, ‘You know, mabilis kang i-save.’ Because poised na poised pa rin daw ako. Kung ano daw ‘yung itsura ko paglubog, pag-ahon ko, ganu’n pa rin ako.”
Just like Judy Ann, Santos-Concio saw that a young John Lloyd Cruz had a bright future waiting for him.
“John Lloyd is a very intense actor. I saw him when he auditioned for ABS-CBN when he was only 13 years old. I was a member of the panel. In a short interview, I already saw that may pupuntahan itong batang ito. Malalim.
“There’s a certain intensity in him. He’s the kind of actor who gets into the zone. Sometimes nga, nakaka-intimidate. He stays in the character. He is a professional. He’s an introvert. But if he trusts you, he will bare his soul to you. I love Lloydie. I miss him.”
Piolo Pascual was always someone who she admired.
“The quality of Piolo that drew me to him? Madali siyang maka-gaangan ng loob. Mabait. Gwapo talaga si Piolo. Aminin natin. Adonis.”
She hopes that a Piolo-Juday reunion would happen once more, which many consider the best love team in the history of Philippine cinema.
Working with young directors in the future is one of her goals, she revealed.
“Anyone with a good story,” she said.
“I look at the story and I look at the character. It has to be appropriate to my age. I’m quite easy to please.”
She has an upcoming project with Daniel Padilla who will be playing as her son in “Whether the Weather Is Fine (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon),” a film on typhoon Yolanda’s aftermath in 2013.
“The style of the director is absurd cinema,” Santos-Concio said.
“There are certain absurdities and excesses in the scenes to drive home the message.”
The reason why Santos-Concio is the person she is today is because of her father, who taught her the right values. In addition to having zero regrets, she also found the real meaning of an unconditional love thanks to her husband.
“I am the person that I am because everything started with my dad and my mom,” she said.
“I will forever carry those values in my heart and hope to pass them on to my children and my children’s children.”
She will not force her children into something they’re not interested in.
“You can never really chart the journey for your children. You have to allow your children to carve their own path.”
“You can only hope and dream that what you want, magugustuhan din nila. At the end of the day, we have to allow them to carve their own path. Pride na rin natin ‘yun as parents. Kahit hindi tayo kasama sa pag-carve ng path nila, ang pag-gabay natin sa kanila, dala-dala nila ‘yun.”