Since working at the young age of 15, Herlene Budol has truly come a long way.
Today, the beauty queen-turned-actress continues to harvest the fruits of her labor without forgetting to encourage others with her inspiring success story.
On “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho,” Herlene looked back on the days when she was still having a hard time making ends meet.
In an interview with Jessica Soho, Herlene shared that she came from a broken family.
“Feeling ko naman ho talagang hindi sila ho para sa isa’t isa kasi na-gin bilog lang daw po ‘yung papa ko kasi ‘yung mama ko dati,” she said. “Kumbaga nabuo lang daw po ako dahil sa alak, sabi. Triny daw po nilang magsama kaso hindi talaga ho.”
[“I feel that my mom and dad weren’t really meant for each other. Thought they tried to be together, it just didn’t work out.”]
After all their family’s problems, she said that she became “numb.” It was only when her parents decided to separate that their situation got better.
“Mas naging maganda po ‘yung pagsasama namin nu’ng naging mas magkaibigan na lang po sila kumpara sa maging mag-jowa kasi pag naging mag-jowa ‘yan, naku! May lilipad na naman na mga kaldero,” the actress said.
[“Our family’s relationship eventually got better because they decided to become friends. When they were a couple, they just kept fighting.”]
“Halos pinagba-badminton-an ako ng mama at papa ko. Kumbaga pasa-pasahan,” she added.
[“They kept passing me around..”]
Herlene said she had to start working at a young age.
She used her small earnings to finish high school and college.
“Maraming salamat din po talaga du’n sa mga teacher ko na umunawa sa akin na kapag pumapasok ako lasing ako,” Herlene said, sharing that she worked at a bar.
[“I’m thankful for my teachers who understood why I would go to class drunk.”]
“‘Pag pumapasok ako sa school, lasing po ako minsan nakakatulog po. ‘Yun po ‘yung mga panahon na umiinom ako ng alak nang hindi ko naman gusto,” she said. “Nang-uuto po ako ng mga manginginom dun ta’s halimbawa sha-shot din ako tapos magti-tip din sa akin.”
[“I was drinking alcohol even if I didn’t want to. I’d doze off during class because I was drunk. I had to drink because I worked at a bar, I’d socialize with customers, and would end up drinking so they would tip me well.”]
Herlene admitted that she took advantage of her looks and would fake her resumes just to get a job.
“Kunwari ano, 15 years old lang po ako ngayon pero nilalagay ko lang po 18. Pinapatulan ko po mga dati mga 100 isang araw po, 3,000 isang buwan para pang-allowance lang din po,” she said.
[“I used to lie about my age so I could get jobs. I would get 100 pesos a day or around 3,000 a month for my allowance.”]
In a week, Herlene would have up to four jobs and even do extra.
“Diskarte po talaga. Ayokong gugutumin ‘yung sarili ko, Ms. Jessica. Tapos na ako sa part na ginugutom ko ‘yung sarili ko nung elementary ako kasi tinitipid ko ‘yung pera ko para may pangmaganda kong outfit ng Pasko,” she said.
[“I don’t want to go back to the time when I have no means to buy food or nice clothes for Christmas.”]
Today, Herlene has her own house, a car, a condo unit, and an apartment for rent.
“Nagpupundar lang ho. At saka meron na rin po akong mga hinuhulugang lupa dahil po sa ‘Magandang Dilag,'” she said. “Parang kaniya-kaniyang oras lang po talaga. Hindi po natin masasabi ‘yung panahon natin saka yung nakatadhana sa isang tao.”
[“I started investing my money on properties. I’m paying off a land property using the money I earn from ‘Magandang Dilag. I think it’s all about timing.”]
When asked why she thinks “Magandang Dilag” became a hit, Herlene answered, “Kasi Ms. Jessica, binuhos ko po buong dedikasyon ko dito sa first lead role ko.”
[“I poured my heart into my first lead role.”]
Unlike her character in the series, Herlene said that she is not one to take revenge on those who did her wrong.
“Sa totoong buhay naman po hindi ako gumaganti. Hinahayaan ko na lang ang tadhana ang mangyari ang tama,” she said.
[“In real life, I don’t seek revenge. I just let fate take its course.”]
Herlene turned emotional as she expressed her gratitude.
“Kasi na ano po ako sa — binigyan po ako ng big role ng GMA. Kasi s’yempre bago lang po Ms. Jessica. Wala po akong acting workshop. Pasalamat lang po ako sa lahat ng mga kasama ko na talagang sumuporta po sa akin,” she said.
[“I’m grateful because GMA Network gave me a big role even though I’m just a newbie. I’m also grateful for everyone who supported me.”]
“Na-touch lang po ako kasi sobrang happy ko po talaga. Tawag na sa akin ng mga bata ‘Gigi’ mga tao po ‘Greta.’ Ta’s talagang nagsasampalan po ‘yung mga bata doon sa amin,” Herlene added.
[“People would call me by ‘Gigi’ and ‘Greta’.”]
“Magandang Dilag” often includes emotional and confrontational scenes, with the characters being involved in brawls and fights.
Herlene said that after shooting those kinds of scenes, she and her co-stars would say sorry to each other.
“Nagso-sorry-han po kami after namin magsabunutan, magsampalan, magsapakan,” she said.
[“We would apologize to one another.”]
She often shares intense scenes with Maxine Medina and said the actress is very gentle.
“Sobrang malumanay niya. Ako naman ho talagang nagtatanung-tanong ako sa kanya, ‘Te, kapag sinampal ba kita, sabay ba ‘yung ganyan?'” she said.
[“She’s very soft-spoken. I would ask her about the fight scenes we would do.”]
Herlene quipped that she would tell Maxine not to hold her newly-pierced ear.
She also had a scene where she had to choke veteran actress Chanda Romero.
“Ayoko naman po manakit, lalo ‘yung kay Ms. Chanda, sinakal ko hong ganun. Grabe takot ko, e. Parang ‘Hala! Hindi ko kaya. Parang kakainin ng lupa after kong sakalin ‘to,'” she said, adding that Chanda did not get angry at her and instead guided her for the scene.
[“I don’t want to hurt anyone. When I did that scene with Ms. Chanda. I was so scared. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole.”]
Herlene said that she enjoys every moment she gets to act.
Aside from Maxine and Chanda, the show also stars Benjamin Alvez and Rob Gomez, her romantic interests.
But in real life, Herlene said that she is currently single.
“Ngayon po. Wala po akong s’yota. Ang bilis no,” she said. “Parang siguro hindi lang kayang pagsabayin. Siyempre nakafocus ka d’un sa kung paano mo kumita ng magandang-maganda para sa pamilya, para sa future.”
[“I’m not in a relationship right now. I’m focused on trying to earn money to support my family.”]
Despite having a property in Quezon City, Herlene still visits their home in Angono, Rizal, where her grandfather lives.
“Nandito pa rin po ako sa Angono, Rizal,” she said, adding that her family, her heart, and her whole self are still with Angono.
[“In my heart, I still live in Angono, Rizal.”]
She said she always brings the lucky charm she received from her grandmother, who had already passed.
When asked if she still misses her lola, Herlene said, “”Pag nandiyan na ‘yung problem ko naka-schedule na, iiyak po ako sa kanya. Sa kanya po ako magsusumbong.”
[“Whenever I have problems, I would cry to my grandmother. I would tell her everything.”]
Herlene takes on lie detector test
In the same interview, Herlene bravely addressed the rumors surrounding her by taking a lie detector test.
When it comes to always being late on set, Herlene admitted, “Hindi naman po natin maiiwasan na talagang minsan may emergency po na talagang hindi mo inaakala. E nagkataon lang po siguro isa, dalawang beses.”
“Pero hindi na po naulit,” she added. “Kaya po ako lumipat ng condo. Kasi isang beses ka lang na-late ang dami ng issue. Paano pa kapag sumunod-sunod na ‘yun, baka wala na akong trabaho kinabukasan. So inayos ko naman po.”
[“We can’t really avoid emergencies. I was late maybe once or twice, but it never happened again. That’s why I moved into a condo unit. There were a lot of issues just because I was late once. I might not have a job to go back to, so I really tried to fix it.”]
Asked if she had already become too proud of herself, Herlene answered, “Siguro po kasi hindi ninyo po lahat mapi-please lahat ng tao na kapag sinabi mong—sasabihin ko, ‘Hindi lumalaki ulo ko.'”
[“I guess I can’t please everyone, even when I say that I’m not getting let the fame get to my head.”]
“Eh kung nakikita ho ng ibang tao na ‘Nag for the change na ‘yung ferson oh!’ Parang paano mo ipagtatanggol ‘yung sarili mo?” she added.
[“When people start throwing accusations at you, how would you defend yourself?”]
For the third question, Herlene was asked if she had turned into a diva, and she answered yes.
However, the detector said it was a lie.
She was also quizzed about whether she was at odds with her former manager, Wilbert Tolentino.
“Before, yes. Now, it’s no,” Herlene said. “Tampuhan, kumbaga nagkakasagutan lang kasi mas more on mag-friendship po talaga kami compare sa talagang manager talaga. Nabuo po kami as a friend.”
[“We had a misunderstanding, but that’s normal among friends. I treat him like a friend, more than a manager.”]
She said Wilbert is now her mentor, “Every day pa rin po kaming nagtatawagan, nagtatanungan.”
[“We still talk to each other every day.”]
Herlene then addressed the criticisms that said she never took anything, including her beauty pageants, seriously.
“‘Yun po ang akala nila. Siyempre bakit ka po sasali d’un para i-joke lang po ‘yun. No. Hindi po totoo. Hindi po biro ang mag-pageant,” she said. “Sineryoso ko po lahat ng naging laban ko, promise.”
[“People thought that I’m not taking pageants seriously. But that’s not true”]
When asked if she has plans to join pageantry again, she answered, “Miss Philippines Tourism 2023 po ako so may obligasyon po akong mag—talagang mag-compete sa international by next year po.”
[“I was crowned Miss Philippines Tourism 2023, so I’m obligated to join an international pageant.”]
Herlene was crowned Miss Philippines Tourism at the Miss Grand International pageant in July. She was also named Binibining Pilipinas 2022 first runner-up. —JCB, GMA Integrated News