Sharon Cuneta on what being a ‘Shero’ means

Sharon Cuneta | photograph BY JOVALLE FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

Sharon Cuneta was so set on gracing the fifth anniversary of InLife Sheroes, a movement that centers on women empowerment, that she already prepared a cane in case the hip pain she’s been experiencing for some time would continue to prevent her from walking straight. Fortunately, she felt a lot better — thanks to regular sessions with her physical therapist — two days before the event took place Tuesday, 12 March, at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila in Makati City.

At the event, titled “The Spot: Sheroes on the Limelight,” the well-loved all-around entertainer popularly known as The Megastar introduced herself as a “proud” InLife Dreamweaver who serves as the brand ambassador of the life insurance company that initiates the pro-women campaign. She also rendered two of her hit songs, “Pangarap na Bituin” and “Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko.”

“I was glad to find out when I arrived that I’m also a shero,” Sharon told the predominantly female audience. She went on giving her own definition of a shero when asked on stage by her fellow event guest Kaladkaren. It is “someone that lives not just for herself but for other people” and can “inspire by the way you live and by the things you say.”

Wala namang perpekto, lalo na ako (Nobody’s perfect, especially me),” she added. “Pero (But) I own up to my mistakes. I think that’s important. We can’t pretend to be perfect. It’s important to say sorry, and you learn. You should be able to empower people, both women and men…I think it’s important to be authentic.”

Sharon then named the three women who inspired her: The late Princess Diana of Wales, former US First Lady Michelle Obama and Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts. She praised the beloved member of the British royalty for reaching out to people and touching lives.

Being an inspiration

“When I became an adult and lived my own life, I really wanted to touch people’s lives,” Sharon later said in an interview with media outlets. “I want my movies to really mean something. I don’t want to be remembered as just someone na mahusay na artista, magaling kumanta, megang ganito, ganyan (a good actress, good at singing, mega-something).”

She’d rather people think of her, when she’s no longer around, as someone who had the biggest heart and was loved “because she loved.” Then she pointed out, “I like making people happy.”

Sharon, 58, is also admired for the way she handles her finances. She has, in fact, managed her “income from show business” to grow “five to 10 times because of my investments.” It also helped that since she started as a singer, at age 12, her parents Pablo Cuneta (long-serving mayor of Pasay City in the 1950s all the way to the ’90s) and former actress Elaine Gamboa-Cuneta “didn’t touch” her earnings.

She revealed having earned her first million for her acting debut in Dear Heart (1981). At 15, she was already “living the suweldo (salary) of a superstar at that time” because her father gave that price to the movie’s producer, Sining Silangan Inc., thinking that the production company would find it too steep. But the producer agreed, so the movie was made. It became a hit, thus giving birth to the fabled Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion love team, on-and-off-screen. She also went on earning the Megastar title for consistently making hit movies, TV shows, recording albums, concerts and product endorsers.

Sharon wouldn’t say the exact year or age she earned her first billion, only stating that it happened before she married her current husband, former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. She was three months past the age of 30 when they tied the knot on 28 April 1996. (A day after the interview, she sent word to say that she actually hit her first billion some time between her early and mid-30s).

Financial tips

In making investments, Sharon said the key points are going into something you’re already familiar, avoiding going overboard and not putting “all your eggs in one basket,” meaning diversification. The bulk of her investments are made of real estate properties, corporate stocks, jewelry and designer fashion goods because all those things appreciate in value. She can’t say the same for luxury cars, so she’d rather stick to her trusty van.

Sharon admitted being meticulous in buying properties and cautious in putting her money in the stock market. The same goes for taking on debt, explaining that hers are “good debts” that are not due to gambling, vices or stupidity, but were used for buying properties, such as a bank loan. She just makes sure she pays off her debt and have a clean slate again.

Ngayon, may bago akong utang (Now I have a new debt),” she said, chuckling. “Some I use to invest in other properties and some [because] I’m building my house now.” It’s a big house that will not only accommodate her, her husband Kiko and their children Frankie, Miel and Miguel, plus her first-born daughter KC Concepcion, but all their children’s future spouses and offsprings.

Sharon also underscored the value of investing in oneself. Taking for example a person who writes for a living, she suggested finding other venues, like YouTube, for profitable writing gigs. She herself has started work on the website to showcase and sell her pre-loved luxury items. The website will be called To Love Again, a nod to her 1983 movie of the same title.

“Find the gifts God gave you when you were born,” she elucidated. “You’ll know it when you love them, you’re good at them. You nurture them, develop them and then use them. Earn from them. Be happy while using them and help other people.”