Snooky Serna: This time, no Promises

By Ricardo F. Lo

MANILA – When Snooky Serna met with movie reporters during her contract signing with GRowl Films a few days ago, she promised not to make any more promises like she used to. “I just want to say that I’m in a very good place now and that I’m happy,” said Snooky who looked radiant in a long blue dress with a low neckline, adding, “let’s not talk about the past; past is past.”

So it was presumed that she has (finally, finally?) really bidden her pagong (turtle) days goodbye (and good riddance!), saying that now she’d rather wait for her co-workers on the set rather than let everybody wait for her.

“Now, I think twice before I do anything rambunctiously,” she stressed, maybe referring to making moves in her personal life and career. (According to Mr. Webster, rambunctious means “marked by uncontrolled exuberance.”) “Dapat isip-isip bago mag-desisyon.”

But for sure, Snooky didn’t act “rambunctiously” when she signed up with GRowl, a new company put up by Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde and her daughter Roselle with their good friend Girlie Rodis as partner (that explains the “GR” in capital letters in the name of the company). “I’m happy to be back in Regal,” gushed Snooky who was built up a teenage star with Dina Bonnevie and Maricel Soriano as the Original Regal Babies in the early ’80s. “It has been a long time. If I remember correctly, the last time I did a movie with Regal was 15 years ago na yata.”

That movie was called Yakapin Mo Akong Muli, her return team-up with Albert Martinez when Albert came back with wife Liezl Martinez after a long stay in the US. Sadly, the public was no longer enthusiastic in “embracing” the Snooky-Albert love team. “I’m just grateful to Regal and to GRowl for ‘embracing’ me back,” said Snooky who will play mother to Coco Martin in her first GRowl movie. Snooky is pushing 46 (how time flies, ‘no!) and Coco is into his early 30s so, well, puede pa rin if in the story Coco’s character was a pre-pubescent baby delivered when Snooky’s character was 10 or 12. (In the ABS-CBN soap Angelito: Ang Bagong Yugto, Snooky again plays mother to Charee Pineda as she did in the first yugto, Batang Ama, both with JM de Guzman in the title role.) “So, puede namang Nanay ako ni Coco because I have grown-up kids,” Snooky justified.

Snooky is thrilled as a balik-Regal. “I practically grew up in Regal and it makes me sad that some of my mentors in the company are gone, like Tito Joey (Gosiengfiao) who directed me in several movies and also Tito Lino (Brocka) who directed me in Experience (with Hawaiian boy Tom Babauta).” It was also Brocka who directed Snooky in her first movie, LEA Productions’ Wanted: Perfect Mother.

Four years shy of being a golden girl, Snooky has indeed made “rambunctious” decisions such as falling in love with the wrong men after she separated from her husband Ricardo Cepeda by whom she has two daughters (Sam, 19, a bright student taking up European Studies at La Salle; and Saachi, 15, a high school senior) and admittedly not taking care of her career. Asked if either of or both her daughters are interested in following in her footsteps, Snooky said no. “Both of them are not interested in showbiz. To each her own hilig. Iba ang hilig nila.”

Even if she didn’t say so, it was obvious in her aura that Snooky is at peace with herself and the world around her, and she credits her having converted to Iglesia ni Kristo for the positive change in her outlook.

“I have no love life,” she volunteered. “Ayoko na muna. I’d rather be happy alone than be with somebody and be miserable.” Wow, mayroon ba siyang pinatatamaan? Snooky laughed out loud, “Wala naman.” Teased that she should follow Ricardo who has found a new love in beauty-queen/actress Marina Benipayo (who herself is separated from her husband), Snooky said that she didn’t have to.

“I’m happy for Ricardo,” she continued. “If he’s happy, then it’s good for our children because he will make them happy, too. Ricardo is a good provider. I have custody over our daughters and, in fairness, Ricardo checks on them regularly. I heard that he’s also okay with Marina’s kids. Marina has been a good stepmother to my daughters and I really thank her for that.” Come to think of it, would she agree to work with Marina (who plays mother to Daniel Padilla in the ABS-CBN soap Princess & I) in a teleserye?

“Why not?” If ever, what role would she choose, the bida who’s inaapi or the kontrabida who keeps on slapping the bida? “For a change,” Snooky replied, more in jest, “I would like to be the kontrabida,” adding in haste, “uy, joke lang ha!” In the next breath, Snooky reiterated how happy she is to be back home at Regal, and then described her present life in one word. “Chill,” she smiled. “Chill lang!”