updated 9 Jan 2010, 20:09
    Powered by
user id password
Mon, Feb 09, 2009
The New Paper
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Sexy? I think I'm chubby
by Germaine Lim

SEX sells. And Filipino actress Ara Mina is testament to it.

When the 30-year-old's former teen star's career failed to take off, she stripped her wholesome image and turned to the Pinoy erotica movie industry.

It raised eyebrows, especially with her family's prominent political background - her biological father is the former Quezon City mayor and her grandfather the vice-governor of Metro Manila and former mayor of Quezon City.

Ara, then 18 years old, came of age in her nude debut, Init Sa Tag-Ulan (A Hot And Wet Day, 1997).

It wasn't long before her voluptuous figure made people sit up and take notice.

For the record, the 1.7m-tall babe's measurements are 36.5-26.5-38.

Boyfriend okay with her past

But in a phone interview with The New Paper, Ara appeared modest about her figure.

'I think I'm chubby - I'm a big girl. I appreciate the movies I've done even though I don't think I'm sexy, especially when I gain weight.'

But she admitted: 'My sexy image has helped me a lot. I have no regrets at all.

'Competition in the Pinoy movie industry is very tough.'

Ara, who will be singing at Esplanade's DXO club tonight, got into showbiz at 13 when she spent three years acting in teen variety show That's Entertainment.

She said she had a 'very wholesome image' then, but it did nothing for her career.

'But when I decided to appear in X-rated movies, everyone started paying attention to me. They were shocked at my transition.

'In the Philippines, people only notice you when you make sexy movies. But once you gain attention, you have to prove you have talent.'

And she believes she has.

After a string of Pinoy erotic films such as Code Name: Bomba (Code Name: Sexy, 1998) and Maldita (Naughty, 2000), Ara managed to cross over into mainstream roles.

She dabbled in a few television drama series like Kiss Muna (Kiss Me First, 2000) and Kung Mawawala Ka (If You're Gone, 2001).

But her big break came in 2002 when she played a Chinese girl who falls in love with a Filipino man in Mano Po (Please Bless Me). The role won her Metro Manila Film Festival's Best Actress award.

Metro Manila Film Festival is an annual film festival in the Philippines.

Millennium Goddess

In 2004, she continued her award-bagging streak by winning two Best Actress awards from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (Famas) and Golden Screen Awards for her role as a prostitute in Ang Huling Birhen Sa Lupa (The Last Virgin On Earth).

Famas is known as the Filipino Oscar-equivalent, whereas the Golden Screen Awards is fashioned after the Golden Globe Awards.

The local media even labels her 'Millennium Goddess' for her success and sexy image.

Ara, who has three pop albums under her belt, has consistently been voted as one of the Philippines' sexiest stars, and regularly graces the covers of men's magazines, including the Philippines edition of FHM.

Ironically, her family's prominent political background was not a hindrance to Ara's sexy image.

Her biological father is former Quezon City mayor Mr Ismael 'Chuck' Mathay III. Ara was born out of wedlock.

Instead, it is Mr Romy Reyes, a former car dealer, whom she now calls her father.

Furthermore, Ara's grandfather was the vice-governor of Metro Manila and the former mayor of Quezon City.

Ara was 21 when Mr Mathay acknowledged he had fathered her.

She said: 'The censorship board was already clamming down on the erotica movie industry. But my paternal family has not shown any concerns about my past.'

In fact, she said that when she first decided to try out erotic films, her mother gave her her full support.

Ara, an avid perfume bottle collector, said her mother even encouraged her to 'stand out from the crowd' by adopting a stage name. Her real name is Hazel Pascual Reyes.

Ara has also had her fair share of gossip.

In 2002, she was accused of breaking up the marriage of then-boyfriend Jomari Yllana and his ex-wife, a Quezon City district councillor.

Ara and Jomari had met on the set of a TV sitcom in 2000 and reportedly began dating. They split two years later.

'The reports were not true. I'm not the reason their marriage didn't work out. They were already having problems. We didn't get together until they separated.

'Some people made use of us and the rumours to boost show ratings. (Dealing with false reports) is the hardest part of (an actor's) job. I was upset with the accusations.'

Two years ago, Ara also made headlines when she got into a public spat with the sister of her ex-boyfriend, actor Polo Ravales, on the set of a TV series.

Although she has had two failed showbiz relationships, this Millennium Goddess has not given up on love. Ara has a new man in her life, whom she will only refer to as his nickname - Moy.

The couple met last September through a mutual friend who was given strict instructions by Ara that 'I only want a non-showbiz person - I've had enough of the drama'.

Moy, also 30, is of Chinese-Filipino descent and a research accountant. He also helps out in his family's pharmaceutical business.

By November, the couple had become inseparable.

Ara gushed: 'I like his sense of humour and he's intelligent.'

She cheekily added: It's also a bonus that he's tall.

'I enjoy his company a lot. He's very special. In previous interviews, I've said that I hope my next boyfriend will also be the father of my children.

'But it will not be a whirlwind romance. I want to know him better through a longer period of time. We're still very focused on our work.'

Are Moy and his family concerned about Ara's past?

Ara, who spent last Christmas with her beau's family, said they have been accommodating towards her career.

She said: 'They're very open-minded people and haven't raised any issues with my sexy image and past.'

This article was first published in The New Paper on Feb 7, 2009.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.