Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The house of Sheryl Cruz


MANILA, Philippines — Longevity is something that not many actors and actors can say that they have. Sheryl Cruz is one of those stars who have staying power.

In fact, this singer-actress has been active in showbiz for 33 years now and counting. She started her career at the age of four. Those who grew up in the late 1970s to 1980s know that there were only two famous child stars then: Niño Muhlach and Sheryl Cruz.

From being a child star, Sheryl grew up to be a fine teen actress and singer. She did love-team movies with screen partner Romnick Sarmenta, and made memorable hit songs like “Sabi Ko Na Nga Ba” and “Mr. Dreamboy.” She graduated to more mature dramatic roles and even did action movies.

In 1996, Sheryl got married to Norman Bustos, a Filipino firefighter residing in the U.S. Showbiz took a backseat as Sheryl played the role of wife and homemaker. “I ran the household,” she says with pride. She also took the break as an opportunity to pursue and complete a college course, Sheryl obtained her Marketing degree from the City College of San Francisco where she was a frequent Dean’s Lister. In 2001, Sheryl gave birth to daughter Ashley.
Sheryl still shuttled back and forth from the U.S. to the Philippines to fulfill showbiz assignments like soap operas and TV appearances.

In late 2007, during one of her extended stays in Manila, Sheryl was leaning towards buying a house. “I was thinking that it would be nice to have a home here,” she recalls. As fate would have it, she saw a newly built two-storey house (with half basement) for sale in an exclusive village in Quezon City. The house is located on the hilly part of the subdivision. Right then and there, Sheryl wanted to buy it. “The house was ready to be occupied. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘I want this to be my Christmas gift to myself.’”

There was also a deeper reason for Sheryl’s desire to own a home in Manila. She explains that when she and her siblings Renzo and Patrick were still children, their parents, actress Rosemarie Sonora and the late actor Ricky Belmonte separated. The family house was sold. “From then on, I was a frequent condo dweller and I missed living in a real house. It would be nice to have a home again,” says Sheryl.

Sheryl’s aunt Susan Roces and mom Rosemarie had taught her the value of saving up for a home. “Iba pa rin kasi kapag may bahay ka,” Sheryl says quoting her mom and aunt. “Although it’s nice and convenient to live in a condominium, the land where the condo stands will never be in your name. You share the piece of property with countless other residents,” she reasons.

In just a few months, Sheryl bought the house mostly with her earnings from showbiz. “I’ve always believed that if something is meant for me, I wouldn’t have a hard time getting it. That was the case with this house. I bought it with whatever savings I acquired during my younger years. Of course, the money put aside by my parents for me was a big help,” says Sheryl. The star also insisted on fully paying for it in cash. “I didn’t want to owe any money,” she explains.

The original plan of sharing the two-storey residence with her husband Norman did not push through — because in 2008, Sheryl and Norman split up. “I didn’t know he wanted to divorce me,” Sheryl says of Norman.

The actress didn’t move into the house right away. Her Aunt Susan took her and daughter Ashley in. “My auntie got us to live with her in Greenhills because I was in bad shape then,” Sheryl admits. “I was so sad I was afraid to close my eyes. I even asked myself, ‘Am I going insane?’” The love of her Manang Inday (as Sheryl fondly calls her aunt) was very comforting to the star. She also began composing songs and playing the piano more often.

“These were very therapeutic,” says she.

Filled with personal treasures and memories

Just this year – with a more stable career and busier work schedule in TV soap operas – Sheryl moved into the two-storey home with Ashley. The Balinese-inspired residence has a garage on the ground floor with a foyer and stairs that lead to the main dining and living area. An exterior stairs lead to a pocket garden, one of Sheryl’s favorite areas. Here, she gets to lounge and relax in privacy. This is also the site where Sheryl has long and fun conversations with her best friend, Atty. Faye Isaguirre-Singson.

Her design philosophy is simple: “I don’t like complicated spaces. I like simple lines. I like my home to be friendly and warm. So I stick with neutrals and wood. I also used a lot of yellow, brown, and green.”

On the second floor are Sheryl’s bedroom and separate dressing room, and Ashley’s Disney Princess-inspired bedroom.

The house is just the right size for her and her daughter. “I have a lot of stuff,” says Sheryl. “I’ve kept a lot of things people have given me. You need so much space to keep them.”

Displayed in the living room coffee table is an album of clippings and photos made by a fan. There are antiques and furniture from her mom Rosemarie, now living in Washington state and remarried. Sheryl makes special mention of a small jukebox given by Rosemarie. “She takes time to look around and give me things for my home,” Sheryl says of her mom.

Mounted on the walls are framed photographs, one of which is the latest photo of Sheryl with Ashley and Rosemarie; another is a photo of Sheryl, Rosemarie and Purificacion (grandmother of Sheryl and mother of Rosemarie and Susan).

Yet the pictures that bring the brightest smile to Sheryl’s face are the paintings of Rosemarie. “Did you know that she took up Fine Arts University of Santo Tomas"” Sheryl asks with pride. “My mom can do oil on canvass and watercolor paintings. She also sketches. Her teachers in UST were all maestros.”

Another special painting is one by child artist Hamzah. The work shows two young women riding a butterfly. To Sheryl, the figures represent herself and Ashley. Not exactly a collector or an expert, Sheryl knows a thing or two about Hamza. “The painting entitled Butterfly and its one of his most rare because what he usually paints are women selling fish, women in the marketplace You usually find a cat in his paintings. This is one of the rare occasions when he painted a butterfly.”

Beside the piano is a stand where some liquor bottles are displayed. Sheryl shares that the bottles were owned by Norman. Those objects are the only reminders of Sheryl’s ex, aside from a photo of Norman displayed in Ashley’s bedroom.

Making a home for herself and her daughter Ashley, now 10 years old, is what motivates Sheryl to be conscientious in her work. She has shunned intrigue and gimmicks in favor of delivering a solid performance for the audience and fans. “I’m not as brazen as the controversial stars,” Sheryl admits. “I respect the family I came from. We don’t take advantage of the limelight. We don’t use other people to gain popularity. We try to live by the golden rule.”

Sheryl got her divorce papers signed last year. Yet she is not inclined to pursue another romance. “I just want to be focused. I have a child and she is important to me. I don’t want to send her the wrong signal. These years are her formative years.”

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