Arts & Entertainment

Marian Rivera Has a Message for Haters: "I Hope You Get to Know Me"

The actress is starring in her first theater production for Tanghalang Ateneo.
IMAGE Raymund Isaac
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Ever since she set primetime TV ablaze with her unforgettable turn as Marimar in the local version of the Mexican soap in 2007, Marian Rivera has captured the imagination of Filipino audiences. She has since taken on numerous other roles in successful TV and film projects over the years and has become one of the most recognizable faces in local entertainment. 

But as with nearly every other local showbiz personality, Rivera has not escaped intrigues and attacks from critics and detractors. While some people see her as distant and cold—and quite unlike many other celebrities who maintain a constantly sunny and sickeningly sweet façade on and off-camera—the actress has also developed a reputation for being quite candid and forthright, and so comes across as more genuine and honest compared to many of her contemporaries.

Which is why when asked about how she handles unfair criticisms or people who have said mean things about her, she gave a very matter-of-fact response.

“Whether you’re a celebrity or a student in school, or a market stall seller, people will always have something to say about you,” she said in Tagalog during an exclusive virtual chat with editors of Summit Media (which includes Esquire Philippines) earlier this week. “What you just need to focus on is, will I pay them any mind? Are they important people in my life? Do they even know who I am?

Rivera said that even before she became an actress and entered showbusiness, she had often asked herself why people could be so mean and say things about her even though they didn’t even know her. 

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Kung makapagsalita sila ng ganyan, ang perfect! (All the things people say, it’s like they’re all faultless and perfect!),” she said. “Buti na lang marami akong supporters, not just fans, sa family ko, na nagga-guide sa akin, at nagshi-shield sa akin. Binibigay sakin yung pakiramdam na gusto kong pakiramdam (It’s a good thing I have plenty of supporters, not just fans, but family members, who guide me and shield me. They make me feel what I want to feel).” 

The 38-year-old actress, who is married to and has two kids with fellow celebrity Dingdong Dantes, acknowledged that she has learned many things throughout her years in the business and that it is no place for someone who is overly sensitive and thin-skinned.

Eto ang pinasok mong trabaho, kelangan tanggapin mo lahat ng consequence. Sabi nga nila: instant money, yes. Pero mahalaga at malaki ang kapalit (This is the profession you chose, so you need to accept all of the consequences. What they say is true: you do get instant money, but the price you have to pay is huge). 

Naniniwala din naman ako pag nakita nila yung sincerity mo, at makikilala ka nila ng totoo, palagay ko naman mamahalin at gugustuhin ka rin nila (I also believe that if people see your sincerity, and they get to know the real you, I feel like they will eventually learn to love and understand the real you),” she added. 

Photo by Tanghalang Ateneo.
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Best known for her work on the big and small screen, Rivera is navigating uncharted waters with her latest project: she is starring in an adaptation of the Sophocles play Oedipus Rex for Tanghalang Ateneo. Entitled Password: 03d1pu5_R3x, the production “occurs in the current global situation of pandemic isolation and despair, thereby pushing the boundaries of theatrical performance while courageously commenting on the tragedies imminent with the rise of populism within the country and the rest of the world.” 

Directed by Ron Capinding, the virtual production also stars Miren Alvarez-Fabregas, Yan Yuzon, Gabe Mercado, Katski Flores, and Marlon Rivera.

“Napakalaking oportunidad to para sa akin para hindian ko. At masarap minsan china-challenge yung sarili sa mga bagay na hindi mo pa nagagawa at gagawin mo. Bagong pakiramdam 'yun para uli sa akin (This is too big an opportunity for me to pass up. And it feels good sometimes to challenge yourself with things you’ve never experienced or tried. This is something new for me)," she said.

Despite the challenges of the virtual production and communicating the complexities of the material, Rivera said she felt honored and humbled to have been asked and promised to do her best to give justice to the part.

As for people who still choose to be negative towards her and continue to spew hateful messages her way, she has this to say:

Tama ka, hindi lahat ng tao magugustuhan o gusto ka o ayaw ka. Siguro ang magma-matter na lang say o yung mga taong sinusuportahan mo, at yung mga taong mahal ka. Dun ako magtutuon ng pansin. As long as yung mga mahal ko sa buhay at yung mga pinapahalagahan kong mga kaibigan ay mahal ako at sinusuportahan ako, at kilala nila ako, yun ang mahalaga sa kin. At yun ang pagtutuunan ko ng pansin (You’re right, not everybody will like you, or will hate you. What matters is whether the people who say these things mean something to you. That’s what I choose to focus on. As long as the people I love and the friends I cherish continue to love and support me, and know the real me—that’s what’s important to me. And that’s who I choose to focus on.

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Sa mga taong hindi ako gusto: Sana po makilala nyo po ako (And to people who dislike me: I hope you get to know who I am).”

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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