Lea Salonga, a profound artist of our time that had surely surpassed our expectations. From childhood to motherhood, we have seen her life bloom right in our very eyes. But what is Lea Salonga like? Was it all glitz and glamour? or just like any other artists that have to push and struggle to be where she is right now? A few minutes of her time is more than enough to know where Lea Salonga was, and where she is now...
A moment with Ms. Lea Salonga...
Daigdig Pinoy (DP): We know that you started your career at a very young age, can you briefly tell us how was your childhood like? (school, friends, career, family)
LEA SALONGA: Hmmm. I had a pretty good childhood. quite normal actually, considering I was already working and singing. I went to O.B. Montessori Center in Greenhills for both grade school and high school, keeping many of the same classmates for most of those school years. As for my career, I started performing from the age of 7 doing theater. I then continued on to film work, recordings, and television. However, most of my work is in the field of musical theater, my first love.
I have a younger brother, Gerard, who's a musician, composer, orchestrator, arranger, conductor and record producer. My mother has been my manager since the very beginning. My father is the current chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
DP: What was your first project when you started your career? How were you discovered?
LEA: The King and I for Repertory Philippines. My cousin Ria Barredo (now Kroff) was very active with this theater company, and when auditions came for this musical, she told my mother to take me. Auditions were held at the Insular Life Auditorium in Makati. I was 6 years old. I turned 7 during rehearsals.
DP: Did your career move smoothly or are there bumps and bruises along the way?
LEA: All showbiz careers have their fair share of bumps, bruises, ups and downs. Then again, everyone's life is like that. Although I have to say that for the most part my career has been charmed. I've been very, very blessed.
DP: To date, what are the memorable awards/ recognitions that you received? Unforgettable roles/concerts?
LEA: For Miss Saigon: The Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theater World Awards (New York) ; Laurence Olivier Award (London); Aliw Awards (I'm particularly proud that between Gerard and myself, we have 8 or 9 in different categories). The greatest non-performance awards have both been from the President of the Philippines: Presidential Award of Merit (from President Cory Aquino) and the Order of Lakandula, Rank of Kumandante (from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo).
DP: What sacrifices you have to do to achieve the statue that you are in right now? (with regards to time, relationships, health, etc.)
LEA: Thankfully, not too many, although when I do travel it means time away from my husband and daughter. That's probably the biggest sacrifice I have to make because of my work. Having said that, this work is a blessing and I'm thankful to have the incredible support of my family. Without that I wouldn't be able to do this. As for my health, it is what it is. I do (and will) get sick from time to time, so I just do my best to stay healthy and disease-free however I can.
DP: Now that you have a family of your own, how were you able to balance your time between work, family and yourself?
LEA: Having a lot of help is incredible. my mother loves to watch and take care of my daughter whenever I have to travel for work. and when I'm home I make sure to spend as much time as I can with my family. My husband and I make sure we do stuff together, even if it's just a foot massage at the end of the long and tiring day (that's always a welcome treat for us). I hang out with my daughter which is always fun. but for myself I just need a little solitary time, be it at the mall, the spa, or lunching with a friend or a bunch of friends. It's important for every mommy to have her "me" time. it's helped me retain my sanity.
DP: Where will Lea Salonga be 5 to 10 years from now?
LEA: Hopefully still performing. I love to sing and don't foresee myself stopping anytime soon. I'd also love to coach other actors and performers. it would be one way for me to give back to an industry that has been so wonderful to me. I'd like to be around when a new crop of performers come along. call it "passing the torch".
DP: Any advice to aspiring Filipinos that dreams to follow your footsteps?
LEA: Keep that dream alive!!! As we have all just recently seen with people like Arnel Pineda and Charice Pempengco, dreams really do come true. In the meantime, train, learn, work hard, remain grounded and prayerful. That's really it!