Grace Under Pressure

A mainstay of the fashion and beauty scene, well-recognized on TV soaps, professional model, versatile actress, and adept TV host Angel Aquino rises to every occasion. 
By Angel Constantino
Cover photo by Jay Tablante

Published: Women's Health, October 2010
Section: Cover Story

Angel Aquino couldn't be any more different from the character she plays on ABS-CBN’s popular primetime show, Magkaribal. Vera Cruz is a mean and conniving model-turned-fashion mogul who stops at nothing to get what she wants. Her piercing stare and shrill scream are enough to make you run in the opposite direction.

Angel, in real life, is friendly and down to earth. Dressed in a plain black button-down, shorts revealing toned, kilometric legs, and sandals, she warmly greets everyone when she arrives at the cover shoot. Her smile lights up the room as she candidly talks about her career and personal life.

The fact that she can portray a character so different from her is a testament to her skill as an actress. Angel admits she enjoys playing the villain. “I was excited about the role,” she says. “It’s fun because the show is about fashion. I get to dress up, play Barbie, and be a bitch without having to feel sorry about it. It’s a pat on the back when people tell me I’m doing a good job.”

Though she never had any formal acting lessons, she gets inspiration from her idols, veteran actresses Cherie Gil and Sharon Cuneta. “I watched a lot of Pinoy movies when I was younger. I know the silhouette of a kontrabida, what their head and neck movements are.”

One aspect Angel finds challenging about the role is when she has to cry. “It’s emotionally taxing; it doesn’t come easy for me,” she admits. “I’m not a Bea Alonzo or an Erich Gonzales,” she says, referring to her younger co-stars. “When I do scenes with them, I’m surprised that they can make their tears fall without batting an eyelash," she adds. "It’s easier for me to be angry because I can draw energy from the environment and the people around me. The emotional investment is not that much compared to crying, which you have to draw out from the deepest part of your soul.”

Angel says part of being an actress is being vulnerable. “If you just open your mind and heart to the situation and to your co-actors, the perfect emotion comes out of you," she says. "I used to process a scene too much. I didn’t want to expose myself before, but now I can handle myself better. I’m less afraid and more self assured.”

Angel’s past helped her become mentally and emotionally stronger. It’s no secret that she was pregnant with her first child Iana at 19; married, and then separated from her husband after her second child Thea was born. “It was a difficult time for me,” she says. “I was afraid to be on my own. I was only in my twenties and I had to take care of two kids. But my nanay assured me she would never leave me.”

Angel recalls how depressed she was when she was pregnant with Thea. “I wasn’t eating right and I’d stay up at night crying,” she shares. “I wish I hadn’t been so careless. I should have taken better care of myself and the life inside me. It’s something I’ve had to pay for and live with until now. I’m glad that God and my daughter are so forgiving. She doesn’t blame me for what happened to her.”

Thea was born with hydrocephalus, a medical condition characterized by excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. “She had an operation when she was a baby, and when she was 10 years old,” says Angel. “We didn’t expect her to be able to speak, read, or socialize with others. She used to have a hard time just saying a word." But miracles happen, and one happened to Thea. "She plays the piano and she communicates well now. Sometimes she even gives me advice about my personal life,” says Angel.

Iana, now 17, and Thea, 15, are Angel’s real-life angels. She feels happiest whenever they exceed her expectations. The biggest lesson she’s learned from her daughters is that faith will pull you through anything. “Faith is what has brought me this far with them on my own. I guess something inside me just trusted that I could.”

Despite her hectic schedule, Angel makes it a point to spend time with her daughters. “It’s nice because they’re both teenagers now. They like to do the same things I do, such as going to the spa or having facials. So instead of that just being my ‘me-time,’ I get to spend it with them.”

Angel’s only parenting style is to keep the lines of communication open. “I treat my daughters like my sisters, but when I need to put my foot down, I do so,” she says. “I talk with them a lot. I ask for their opinion and advice. I make sure they’re involved in my personal life. I don’t keep secrets from them because I want them to be open with me.”

Angel cherishes good health and regular fitness. She stopped eating beef and pork since 1997, and  recently avoided chicken too. "I stayed away from meat that would be hard for the stomach to digest," Angel says. She'll make an exception for Peking duck, which her children love. But other than feasting on it once a year, Angel sticks to fish and vegetables. However, she does confess to having a sweet tooth. “I love sweets. It’s something I have to consciously stay away from." She looks at it as reward for eating healthily most of the time.

Angel has gotten hooked on Barre 3, a fat-burning workout that's a combination of Pilates, yoga, and ballet which sculpts the body and targets major muscle groups. “It’s not very high impact and it’s not boring at all,” she says. “You can vary the routine to make it work better for you. I’d do it every day, but with my schedule, I can only do it once or twice a week.”

To read the rest of the article and to learn more health and fitness tips, grab a copy of Women's Health, October 2010 issue.

Actress Angel Aquino with author Angel Constantino :)


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