Her Mother's Joy
Her mother has always been proud of her. Mighty proud. And rightly so.
In the spring of 1991, Julia Roberts graced the cover of People
Magazine's special issue featuring its annual list of The 50 Most
Beautiful People in the World. Together with Julia Roberts in this
ultimate list of the most beautiful people were Brad Pitt, Tom
Cruise, Madonna, Mel Gibson, Whitney Houston, Michelle Pfeiffer,
Isabella Rossellini, supermodels Claudia Schiffer & Naomi Campbell
and oops, a Filipina?
Yes, People Magazine's 1991 list of The 50 Most Beautiful People in the
World included a true-blooded Filipina who was born, raised and educated
in the Philippines.
Unlike most beautiful Filipinas who were the products of mixed
marriages and who have therefore acquired foreign physical features, this
Filipina was born to a Filipina mother and a Filipino father. It is no
wonder that she does not typify a beautiful woman by any standard: She is
short, standing only 5'2". She has a huge and deep acne scar on her
forehead. She has that distinct Asian nose (read: flat). She uses only
Avon cosmetics (gasp!) and applies makeup by herself. During her pre-Inno
Sotto days, her clothes were not made by known couturiers: They were
sewn at home by her mother who is a dressmaker. She does not even have the
right genes to inherit beauty from: Her mother was plain, even
stern-looking. Her father was a dark-skinned guy with the tough facial
features of a hardened military man.
Although both the first names of her mother and father means happy in two
different languages, their union was not as joyous. Her mother and father
were never married, making her and her only brother illegitimate children.
In the mistress hierarchy, her mother was not even her father's
second woman. Her father had a first mistress who ranked above her mother.
She and her brother only belong to their father's third family. And yes,
the gay club performer who once appeared on national television was indeed
her half-brother. She couldn't therefore be faulted for not talking about
her father. In contrast, too much has been known about her mother. Her
mother was always visible, too visible for comfort.
Her mother gave her the name Carmen and raised her in a province north of
Manila. However, when it was time for her to go to school, her
overprotective mother brought her and her brother to Manila to give them
the best education. Carmen studied in Preciosa Soliven's Operation
Brotherhood Montessori in Greenhills where she emerged as the school's
valedictorian. However, Carmen's academic rival protested the school's
decision to award Carmen the school's highest honors, claiming that she
had better grades than Carmen. Carmen's rival even revealed that the
school's owner, Mrs. Soliven, was only fond of Carmen because she always
performed in school programs which gave Carmen an edge in extra-curricular
activities. But academically, Carmen reportedly did not really rise above
Lured into show business, Carmen became part of German Moreno's inane
daily afternoon TV show, That's Entertainment, where she got paired with
comedian and now Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista. (Some
say that Vice Mayor Bautista was so enamored with Carmen that he later
refused to marry his partner despite their having a child.) As one of the
countless stars of Kuya Germ's That's Entertainment, Carmen's talent was
overshadowed by the ridiculous mass appeal of the triumvirate of Sheryl
Cruz, Manilyn Reynes and Tina Paner.
Later, Carmen made a couple of forgettable films which were big flops.
Unsuccessful in local show business, Carmen enrolled as a BS Biology
student in Ateneo de Manila, hoping to become a doctor. However, the lure
of fame and fortune shattered her medical ambition. She followed her other
dream and landed in a |Dreamland! Yes, instead of comforting innocent and
fresh-smelling babies in a hospital, she ended up entertaining horny,
sweaty and foul-smelling drunken men in seedy bars.
When Carmen was a little girl, a local manghuhula predicted that she would
be crowned Miss Universe. Her mother, legally known as Miss Imutan, was
ecstatic upon hearing this. Sadly, the prophecy did not come true.
However, when Carmen was 18 years old, she bagged a beauty title. But it
was farfetched from a Miss Universe crown. Carmen became Miss Saigon.
Yes, the only true-blooded Filipina who was included in People
Magazine's The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1991 is
Feliciano Salonga and Ligaya "Joy" Imutan's only daughter: Carmen Lea
Most of us know her simply as Lea Salonga.