Jen­ny­lyn Mer­cado

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

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - News - by mich lag­dameo • pho­to­graphs by ron­nie sal­va­cion shot on lo­ca­tion at ci­tadines sal­cedo, makati

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 .

“...Cur­rent hugot?

Puwede mag­pahinga?”

Her show­biz suc­cess se­cret: “’ Diba you get pres­sured when you’re com­pet­i­tive? Akokasi,hin­di­ako nakikipag- com­pete.”

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