There seemed to be a certain sadness in the eyes of Sarah Geronimo even when she was smiling during a brief interview or singing before a large audience at the grand ballroom of the 10-month-old Marriott Hotel in Clark, Pampanga, during her introduction as endorser of Gardenia bread Tuesday (July 9) last week.
But pictures on social media showed a different Sarah, glowing with happiness, when she visited her boyfriend Matteo Guidicelli during his month-long training as scout ranger at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan. Seeing how demanding the training was and its toll on Matteo who admitted that he almost quit (good thing he did not!), Sarah joked about bringing him home (“Iuuwi na kita”) already. That light-hearted comment understandably sparked varying comments on social media.
There was a strict reminder for the media not to ask Sarah about 1). Matteo, 2). Viva (her home company), and 3). anything no matter how vaguely “personal.”
But you can, so to speak, beat around the bush and still get the desired answers.
Like what? In a while. Read on.
First, about the Gardenia bread (the name used to be associated with, well, a “rendezvous place”).
“But today,” noted Simplicio Umali Jr., president and general manager of Gardenia Bakeries (Philippines), Inc., “when you say Gardenia, what comes to mind is the bread. Our people are so proud of the brand that they go around in Gardenia shirts without being mistaken for working anywhere else.”
…and singing during the Gardenia affair at the Marriott Hotel (Clark) ballroom where she was introduced as the brand’s ambassadress….
Teaching Marketing as a “hobby” (his own word) on Saturdays at La Salle St. Benilde, Jun has been with Gardenia for 21 years and he saw how it became the leading brand in the Philippines. Named after the fragrant flower, Gardenia originated in Singapore…an apt name because it evokes the well-loved scent of the bread that lights up the breakfast table of every family with a wide array of choices (White Loaf, Wheat Loaf, Cranberry Loaf, Hi-Fiber Raisen Loaf and Cheese Bun which happens to be Sarah’s favorite).
“We chose Sarah as endorser because she epitomizes what Gardenia is all about,” said Jun. “Fresh, wholesome and tasty. We describe that taste as pikit-sarap and you see it in the commercial with Sarah, our very first big-name endorser.”
Last Tuesday, with the theme “Bake to the Future 2.0,” Gardenia opened its fourth fully-automated bread manufacturing facility, following those in Laguna, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. Located in the TECO industrial estate in Mabalacat, Pampanga, the P2-billion plant will be able to produce nearly 400,000 loaves and buns every day, ready for delivery to supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores in Luzon. All in all, the daily produce of the four plants amounts to more than 1.8 million loaves nationwide.
Jun is right. Sarah is the perfect Gardenia endorser because she is the family breadwinner.
“I really grew up on Gardenia bread,” said Sarah. “My parents saw to it that there’s always Gardenia bread on our breakfast table.”
Since, to paraphrase the oft-quoted saying “man cannot live by bread alone,” we tried to squeeze out of Sarah more than just dough during a one-on-one after she performed. The repartee was as innocuous as could be, with us bearing in mind the “don’t’s” (but you can read between the lines, if you please).
You are turning 31 on July 25. What is your birthday wish?
Sarah (giving a “Miss U” answer): Good health for my family and in the work place. At sana, manatili ang pagmamahalan at pagkakaintindihan.”
Your new (short) hairdo becomes you. They say that when a woman cuts her hair, it indicates a “change” in her life.
Sarah (breaking into laughter): It doesn’t mean anything. (Note: meaning she and Matteo are okay.) It’s for the movie (Viva Films’ Unforgettable) that I’m doing. We’ve been shooting for eight days now.” (The movie is a follow-up to last year’s Miss Granny which won Sarah a Best Actress award.)
…during a toast at the same affair led by Gardenia president Simplicio ‘Jun’ Umali Jr. (third from left) and Nestor Constancia (third from right), Gardenia VP for sales and marketing, and other Gardenia officials and partners….
You are back as judge on The Voice.
Sarah: Yes. I’m happy. (No comment on the rumor that she would have been a judge on Idol Philippines, another Kapamilya talent search, but Vice Ganda, one of the judges, allegedly “barred” her as retaliation for an abortive episode of his show Gandang Gabi Vice after the mom Sarah [a special guest] objected to some of Vice’s “personal” questions.)
You look slim. They say that it’s a sign that you are deeply in love.
Sarah (laughing some more): Ganoon ba ‘yon? It’s also for the movie, so that I won’t look big on screen.
There you are, no mention about Matteo.
The next day, I texted Matteo for a similar light-hearted chat.
Hi, Matteo (at 29, two years younger than Sarah). What’s your birthday gift to Sarah?
“Hello!!! Wala pa, hehe!!!”
Dapat gift mo sa kanya grand wedding, hehehe!!!
“Hehehehehehehe!!!” (Trivia: in a previous exclusive interview with The STAR, Matteo admitted that, yes, marriage has been a topic between him and Sarah. “We’ve been together for several years already,” he confessed. If ever, according to Matteo, he wanted “just a simple and small wedding with her family and my family.”)
I talked to Sarah in Clark yesterday (July 9). Ganda ng ring na suot niya. Engagement ring ba ‘yon? (Of course, I was bluffing! In that STAR interview, when asked about the rumor that he and Sarah got engaged during their trip to Europe to celebrate their fifth anniversary as sweethearts, just the two of them, he neither confirmed nor denied it, and simply answered, “Secret. Hehehe!!!”)
There it is. Matteo gamely answering questions that we were not supposed to ask Sarah.
Meanwhile, please pass the Gardenia bread!
…and the P2-billion Gardenia plant in Mabalacat, Pampanga, inaugurated that day (July 9)
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