Jobelle Salvador gears from the reel to the real world

Benigno D. Tutor, Jr.

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For Jobelle Salvador, life after showbiz is not enchanted, but she is gracefully managing the transition from fame to the routine toil of a career woman.
Few people outlast fame with grace. Movie stars, especially, tend to pursue lifestyles that are patterned after the foursquare celluloid screen—bounded and blinded by the glory of the here and now.

Even at the height of her fame as member of the Bagets in the mid 80’s, Jobelle Salvador knew that living off public adulation would end one day. As the only daughter of actor Leroy Salvador—who directed the film that was to be the vehicle for her rise to fame—Jobelle knew that as easily as stardom was thrown on her lap, it would likewise eventually wane. This is not to say that the klieg lights never dazzled her. Jobelle admits to her share of missteps under the public glare, but she made sure that she regained ground before keeling over irreversibly.

In the heyday of her showbiz career, she made trips to Japan as part of the showbiz entourage usually invited by the Philippine Embassy during the annual Family Day celebration. It was during those trips that she made the important connections to start a career in Japan. If there was one good thing that the rough-and-tumble showbiz taught her, it was the keen sense of survival in a fiercely competitive world. Here, being street-smart matters as much as being talented.

Little wonder that these days, Jobelle still shines even as she tries to meld anonymously into Roppongi’s mixed crowd of stylish Japanese and foreigners. Although she is reported to be active in business in the US, Japan and the Philippines, she says that she has made Tokyo her main base. Japan is where she has been living for the longest time—eight years to be exact. She considers Japan her second home after the Philippines.

“Japan has always been a challenge to me—with its very high cost of living. Will I survive here,” she gushes as if enthralled by the challenge. Sporting a blue Mercedes Benz and hiving with her two children in a mansion in Roppongi itself, Jobelle certainly appears to be more than just a survivor.

She weaves through Roppongi’s maze of narrow streets to the intricate parking of Tokyo’s plushiest shopping complex, the Roppongi Hills, with the confidence of one in her own turf. Then she guides us into her favorite Japanese-style hangout, which specializes in veggie and seafood barbecues. “I splurge on food more than on shopping,” she confides, telling us that she comes to this swanky diner at most three times a week.

What occupies her time these days?

“A lot,” was her bubbly response, as she hands us her name card on which is emblazoned JLS International, the company of which she is the president. In the earnest tone of a helmsman, she explains that the company is into events and promotions, real estate, consultancy, travel, trading, publishing and telecommunications, among others. One of the achievements she is proud of was clinching a six-month promotional deal with Western Union, the international money transfer giant, which launched a gold card campaign among Filipinos in Japan. Living up to the international moniker of her company, she also organized the Pinoy Pop Superstar in Los Angeles in February 2006, whose winner vied in the finals at the GMA in Manila. Last year, she also signed a contract with D & H International as the official endorser for the beauty product Amira Magic Cream, which is the first Philippine-made cosmetic product to be allowed officially into Japan. Again this year, she won a contract with Catchyoo, an international company that sells interactive advertising products which she is planning to market in the Philippines. In the midst of all these, she manages to maintain her public profile by writing columns for a number of Filipino magazines in Japan.

Jobelle admits, though, that she still earns her bread and butter from showbiz-related work. She sings regularly from 8 to 11 PM at the Club Ritz in upscale Ginza, Tokyo. Although little known as a singer, Jobelle had actually shown her musical talent alongside acting during her showbiz years as vocalist of the Corporate Band in Manila. Occasionally, she also plans and performs in gigs. In a prelude to Valentine, Jobelle is slated to perform with Tokyo-based Filipino vocalist Jaylord Vergara at the Motion Blue Yokohama on February 1.

“But what takes up half of my regular day is looking after my kids,” referring to her 5-year old daughter and 17-year old teenage boy. “My boy helps out as my secretary sometimes.” With sundry things to do, she manages to squeeze in everything because she works at home, equipped with three computers and three telephone lines. She admits that her life is far from enchanted, what with two children to send to school. The tuition fees of her boy who attends an international school are enough to keep her busy at work and on the lookout for economic opportunities.

For someone who contemplated studying nuclear medicine after high school, isn’t what you’re doing now an explosive shift of career?

“Why, I even took an exam to join the US Air Force and passed, but backed out finally in embarrassment because none of my six brothers thought of joining the military.”

But most women dream of being stewardesses, not of being in the pilot’s seat!

“I’ve always wanted to fly a plane,” she replies.

The way I see it, even if you’re not in the pilot’s seat, you’re still a high-flyer.

She beams coyly and says, “Perhaps just a jet-setter, but more accurately a frequent flyer.”

Jobelle feels that she has not really left showbiz, as people still recognize her and she still gets TV interviews (courtesy of her manager Angeli Pangilinan, wife of Gary V) and occasionally reunites with other Bagets members Aga Mulach, William Martinez, Herbert Bautista, JC Bonnin, Raymond Lauchengo, Eula Valdez and Yayo Aguilar. During their last reunion, the group set up a foundation to help young talents who aspire to make a career for themselves in the movie industry. Admitting that acting is her first love, Jobelle says that she has not really turned her back on showbiz but is just awaiting the right offer.

(A portion of this interview was first published in the September 2006 issue of Airmart Newsline.)