MANILA, Philippines?She?s back for good.
Actress Jobelle Salvador, who has lived in Japan for a decade, says she is beginning ?a new chapter? of her life here in the Philippines.
One of the stars in the iconic ?80s youth film ?Bagets,? Jobelle became a Filipino icon in the Land of the Rising Sun as well. She did five Japanese movies, had a vibrant singing career, and was appointed ambassador of goodwill thrice by the Philippine Tourism Board.
She writes a newspaper column, ?Buhay Japan,? which comes out twice a month in the Filipino-language Pinoy Gazette.
Jobelle is also a human rights advocate ? having founded the Womb Foundation, which provides aid to Filipino women abused by their Japanese partners or employers.
In Japan, Jobelle owns a home in the upscale Roponggi Hills, drives a Mercedes Benz and has sent Julynna, her 8-year-old daughter with a Japanese businessman, to a good school.
She has a son with actor Robin Padilla named Mico, 19, who now lives in the United States.
Jobelle runs Aqtv8.com, (formerly JLS International) an events and promotions company.
?I had a good life in Japan [but] I was often lonely,? says Jobelle. ?I broke up with Julynna?s father three years ago, and decided that a change of environment will be good for us.?
Jobelle will be part of a new ABS-CBN drama series ?Habang May Buhay,? starring Judy Ann Santos.
How are your kids coping with the change?
Mico has moved back to Las Vegas with my mom. I told him he can always come and visit us. Julynna likes it here because she has playmates. But it?s sad that she had an asthma attack that was so severe that she was hospitalized for three days.
Actually, my homecoming was done in a rush so I can start taping for ?Habang May Buhay.? I still haven?t finished packing all our stuff. My plan was to have our house in Ropponggi rented out. I?d probably work on that sometime in March.
Was breaking up with Julynna?s dad the toughest decision you had to make?
Yes. While he had always been a good provider, he never had time for us. We were never married. I decided to call it quits with him in December 2005. First I went to Vegas. I wanted to have a fresh start so I bought two houses there, put up a company and produced a show. But he asked me to go back to Japan. When I did, he handed me our separation papers. Pinaghandaan na pala ako. That?s when our break-up became final.
How are you coping now?
I?m okay. The separation didn?t really hurt me. I only got depressed when he filed a court case. There he said things about me that weren?t true. He made up so many stories. I almost wanted to give up, but my friends advised me to continue with the fight for my daughter.
How did you survive this low point in your life?
I prayed a lot. I knew God would take care of me. When Julynna?s dad left us, it was hard only because I sort of got used to being with him for eight years. I was used to our lifestyle. But very few things have changed. I?m still able to pay for all my bills. Ang nagbago lang, wala na akong papa. (Laughs)
Haven?t you considered dating other guys?
I?m not ready yet, parang nakakapagod. I?m happy hanging out with friends. A lot of things changed when I left for Japan. I used to love adventure. I used to go diving. In Japan, I think I only went to the beach once.
What advice would you give to other Filipino single moms?
It was my mom who took care of Mico. But with Julynna, tutok ako. I breast-fed her and had little sleep. I?m proud to have raised her on my own. I hope moms would really spend quality time with their kids. I hope they wouldn?t blame their kids for their own discomfort. Kung pagod sa work, explain it to your kid, ?wag silang sisigawan.
During my stay in Japan, I noticed that many Japanese parents don?t really find time for their kids. Based on the stories of Filipino women I?ve talked with, they don?t have control of their own household. The male parent has a say on everything.
What will happen to your projects in Japan now that you?re based here?
I still want to help. I still get a lot of e-mails from Filipino women there. With Womb Foundation, I was hoping to build a family development center. Sadly, I still have to iron out some kinks with my sponsors.
I plan to continue here what I?ve begun in Japan. I used to get a lot of calls from women who were physically abused at gustong takasan ang asawa. I brought them to the shelter or to friends who offered their homes. There?s this woman who couldn?t go out of her house for three months because of visa problems, feeling niya maloloka na siya. She didn?t know who can help her, so I did.
What was it like growing up with the respected actor-director Leroy Salvador for a father?
It was both an advantage and a disadvantage. It was easy for me to join the biz, but it was tough to stay there because people have high expectations. I still miss my papa. He was 63 when he died. I was the only girl in the family so people saw me as a spoiled brat. I have six brothers. Papa took me everywhere he went, even to the karerahan and sabungan.
What was his greatest advice to you?
First, don?t be late. Back in the ?90s, I was a rebel. But wheels do turn, I?ve grown up now. I?ve learned a lot (about punctuality) during my stay in Japan. Papa also used to remind me to prioritize my work and respect my coworkers, especially the senior stars.
Will you allow your kids to pursue a career in show biz, too?
I don?t mind as long as they don?t neglect their studies. I joined show biz when I was 3 but stopped when I turned 8 to concentrate on school. I finished elementary in San Agustin. I did ?Bagets? a few months before I graduated from high school. I enrolled in UP to take up a management course. But sadly I still have to complete it.
What will happen to Julynna?s schooling now that she?s here?
First she has to learn to read and write in English. Iba kasi ang turo sa Japan. She can speak three languages fluently but she can only read and write in Japanese.