Right about now, 28-year-old multi-hyphenate showbiz A-lister Jennylyn Mercado is probably lazing around the beach in the Maldives, wearing a chic maillot (not a bikini, mind you). Or she could be diving the depths of its deep blue, marveling at how somet
Or not. Because Jennylyn, at any given time, is too busy being that 28-year-old multi-hyphenate showbiz A-lister, working as one of GMA’S most bankable primetime stars and the local film industry’s most lovable leads, to even go on that dream trip to the Maldives (item number two on her “If I Had Time” List, second to “sleep”). And at her second-ever Cosmo cover shoot, the only thing vibrant and tranquil at the same time is Jennylyn herself, sitting quietly on the makeup chair, sipping hot tea while her team gets her camera-ready. She’s tired, even a little under the weather, but she smiles at everyone and manages to crack a pithy, self-deprecating joke here and there—something that’s very Jen, apparently.
It’s normally hard to feel sorry for celebs who are “super tired” and “dying to take a break,” because come
on, it’s common knowledge that Filipino celebs live some of the most charmed, #blessed lives—far from our mundane 9-5s, where our daily trips on the hellish MRT are defacto and not a novelty because we’re running late to a show on the other side of town. But to listen to Jen talk about her everyday sched, and to hear how unaffected and completely lacking in pretension she is, it’s pretty easy to sympathize. When asked about her current #hugot (arguably 2015’s most-bandied hashtag), Jen shoots back, “Current hugot?puwede magpahinga? Ha ha! Hindi ako nagrereklamo, it’s
just that, may pamilya din naman ako. I have a son. Kailangan ko rin naman alagaan yung sarili ko.”
It’s unsurprising how “hugot” and “alagaan ang sarili” connect naturally to Jen—it’s pretty much the recurring theme of her storied life. Since winning Starstruck in 2003 and being thrust in the spotlight, all of the ways life has treated her like crap have been relayed for public consumption. Her 2011 YES! Magazine cover blurb pretty much summed it up succinctly: “Abused as a child, abandoned by the father of her love child, and manhandled by the new man she thought was perfect, Jennylyn Mercado finally bares her heart.” Heavy stuff, but seeing Jen now—vibrant yet tranquil once again comes to mind—it seems like a lifetime ago. And it kind of is, because when you think about Jennylyn Mercado today, you think of her as one of a few things: A single mother to a seven-year-old who just had a rockin’ birthday party for the books, a newly-minted “mompreneur” with her one-stop shop salon, spa, and shopping haven for women, a primetime mainstay on GMA’S My faithful husband opposite controversial former flame Dennis Trillo (with sightings of the two
acting chummy and coyly ambiguous answers when grilled sparking reconciliation rumors) and the star of two hugely popular rom-coms: 2014’s
English only, please, and this year’s The prenup. Oh, and she’s headlining one of the hottest MMFF entries out this month: Walang forever, which would be an apt description of the pain and drama Jen had to endure for most of her life to get to this point—the moment we move on from poor little tragic Jennylyn Mercado and get to know Jennylyn Mercado, #girlboss, #lifepeg, #girlcrush, # lahatna, # ikawna. No wonder she’s so tired—girl has lived a lot of life for someone only 28, and most of it in the unforgiving glare of the showbiz spotlight. But her secret to not just staying sane, but actually becoming successful is surprisingly simple— and unconventional, considering her choice of career.
In an industry where stars are always demanded to do more, be more, and overall just give more of themselves than what they’ve already sacrificed (privacy? God-given facial features?), Jennylyn refuses to be cowed by pressure. “’ Yun na siguro ang pinaka- secret kosa showbiz. Wala akong pressure, from the business or from myself. ’Diba you get pressured when you’re competitive? Ako kasi, hindi ako nakikipag-compete. Kung wala, wala. kung hindi ko kaya tapatan pagsasayaw mo, okay lang— tatanggapin ko ’yun. Gusto ko lang, nagtatrabaho ako, nakikita kong, ‘ay, kikita ako dito, makakapagpasaya akong tao dito.’” Jen sees show business as a well-paying job, and one with high employee satisfaction at that—not an insecurity-laced beauty pageant or pissing contest. It’s a refreshing POV of an oftenglamorized industry, and it just shows how much of a securely welladjusted woman Jen is.
It doesn’t mean she isn’t immune to wanting to better herself. She’s an accomplished triathlete who completed six events in 2014 alone, and her athletic pursuits are just on this side of being unconventional and challenging: mixed martial arts and diving are just a couple of things she’s ticked off her list of must-tries. One thing she’s given up on? “Dancing. ’Yun lang talaga ang hindi ko magawa. Ha ha! Lahat na sinubukan ko: jazz, contemporary, hip-hop… Wala akong natutunan. Walanang pagasa,” she jibes good-naturedly.
Another thing Jen’s given up on is being that girly-girl the masses expect a beautiful celeb of her stature to be. “Nakita mo ba roots ko?” She giggles as she pulls at her impeccably bombshell-waved hair—to be fair, there are a few inches of regrowth there. “Ewan ko ba, may salon naman ako’di ko alam bakit ’di ko pinapagawa. hindi lang talaga siguro ako gan’un,” she muses. Far be it from Jen to prissily sip cold-pressed green juice as people fuss over her at the shoot—she orders the tocino breakfast plate straight up and actually eats the rice, and takes an active part in moving the shoot along, shifting quickly from layout to layout, feet jammed into beat-up sneakers between takes. No fuss, no muss, and again, no pressure.
Her one concession to conventional girly-ness? Shiny, pretty things—but #girlboss that she is, shiny pretty things on her own terms. “’ Yungpinaka- girly thing that I enjoy siguro would be jewelry; I buy it for myself and invest in it talaga.” Her priciest and most valuable piece is definitely a conversation starter amongst serious jewelry enthusiasts: A 2.5 carat loose emerald-cut stone purchased almost five years ago, that
she doesn’t quite know what do with until now. “’ Di ko pa talaga alam eh. Pendant ba, or ring? Parang weird naman kung singsing, mukhang pang- engagement ring, eh yung mga gan’un mas maganda ’ata pa bigay sayo…” she trails off, and a small lull in the conversation seems to signal an opening to ask about her future plans on that front, but before anything could be said, Jen breaks the silence with a glib, “Bili nalang akong isa pang bato. gawin kong earrings. ’ Tig 2.5 carats isang tenga. ’Di kaya mahulog tenga ko?” Laughter again, and we get the message—talk of engagements and romantic entanglements is off the table. That’s nowhere near where Jen is in her life now.
Ironically, talk of Jen’s tomboyish nature leads to her winning the plum prize of FHM’S Sexiest Woman of 2015—but it’s not the alluring curves so amply displayed by those festive outfits picked out for the shoot that she believes won her the spot, nor was it an accolade that she actively wished for. “Sa totoo lang, wala sa isip ko[manalo]. hindi ko nga binoto sarili ko eh! Ha ha! Nagtatanong mama ko kung pano bumoto, sabi ko, ‘ewan, pano nga ba? ’sabi ko sa kanya,‘ Ma, ibigay na natin sa mga walang anak. Okay lang naman sa akin na hindi mag number one eh, diyos ko, nanay naako!” And to be honest, the idea of being called the sexiest woman in the land isn’t a comfortable one for her: “Hindi ako sanay eh. marami namang meaning ang ‘sexy’. Inisip ko nalang, baka nasexy-han sila sa personality ko. I know fit naman ako, pero hindi nga ako maka two-piece sa harap ng iba eh!” Her last word: “Grabe, naka maluwag lang ako na Metallica t-shirt
at leggings nung in award-ana ko. sana man lang pagbalik ko from New York para fresh naman ako.” We all laugh with the nation’s Sexiest Woman—it really is no big surprise why she won.
This year alone, Jennylyn has proven that she has more than just a good backstory— she has an innate likeability that endears her to everyone she meets, the talent to perform yet the drive to back it up and take it further, and a no-nonsense attitude that not only gets her by, but also gets her past most everyone in the showbiz rat race (not that she’s trying to). All that’s missing is a good night’s sleep and a vacation to the Maldives, but knowing Jen, she’ll get there soon enough. Wanna know if Jennylyn believes in ‘forever?’ Find out her answer by watching a special vid on
❝ Marami namang meaning ang sexy. Inisip ko nalang,, baka na, sexyhan sila sa personality ko. ❞
C o smo Gi rl s , meet y our n ew li f e peg: Jenny l yn Mer c ado i s b oth conf ident and kalog to the c or e— wi th a d a sh of s as s t o s pice i t al l up. C op h er s te ad y
v ibe, s t at .
Her showbiz success secret: “’ Diba you get pressured when you’re competitive? Akokasi,hindiako nakikipag- compete.”