Sarah Lahbati On Joining Showbiz, Playing A Frog, & Her Pregnancy

Here are more insights from the PhilStar feature of Sarah Lahbati that didn’t make it on paper. Thanks to Irish Dizon for dropping them infos.

A favorite aphorism: Be impeccable with your word. It's from "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. Two Saturdays ago, I said I'd post outtakes from #SarahLahbati's @philstarsupreme shoot but never got around to doing it because a. My life is in a state of upheaval. b. Sometimes—and I'm not proud of this—laziness wins. But better late than never. ••• Let's go back to Ground 0: Sarah Lahbati joined showbiz primarily because of her mother, @EstherLahbati. "When you have a half-Filipino, half-something-else daughter, I think most mothers are inclined to have that kind of goal [make your child a star], which was the case with my mom," she said, making me laugh. The words per se may not cue the LOLs, but her delivery was the auditory equivalent of a mild eye roll. 😂 Sarah, displaying a candidness I don't often see in these parts, made an observation about our culture: "[Filipinos] think just because somebody's half [something], maganda na, may chance na sa showbiz." She pointed out, though, that her mother was not a stage mom and didn't force her to be an artista for the money: "She knew rin naman that I love entertaining people." (To wit, in Geneva, Switzerland where she grew up, Sarah relished performing during those Philippine Independence Day events.) Joining the biz was a win-win situation for Sarah and her madre, but she's aware not every halfie thrust into the job is as lucky. "I just hope that other kids also love it and are not forced into it." This & the next two photos are by talented @reginedavid. ✨ Creative direction by genius @mrdavidmilan 🙌🏻

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Everybody has to start somewhere. In #SarahLahbati's case, her breakout role was a little unusual. 🐸 "You were a f-frog," I asked her, a little confused. "Yes," Sarah answered, unable to suppress a giggle. "I'm a human who turns into a frog." Six years ago, GMA gave her the lead role in "Kokak," a TV show based on the popular comics series by Ruben Marcellino. (There was a movie version which came out in 1989, starring Rachel Lobangco and Gabby Concepcion. And it was a hit. Hell, to a certain generation, Rachel Lobangco will forever be Kokak. So for GMA to entrust the TV remake to @sarahlahbati… get my drift?) "I mean, as a newbie, you gotta do what you gotta do," she dead panned , making me laugh for the second time. (Again, it's not so much the words as the delivery! 😂) Sarah, early on in her career, understood the game: "Unless you're connected [to powerful people], you have to start somewhere and be a frog. And I'm very grateful I was a frog or else I wouldn't be here working with direk @erikmatti and direk @skipkiks." (I really wish you got to watch #AngPagsanibKayLeahDelaCruz, which was screened in selected cinemas two weeks ago. Sarah Lahbati showed her acting chops there.) Addendum: Kung ganito hitsura ng frog… How to be a frog po?

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The first time I met #SarahLahbati, she was just 17, about to be photographed for GMA Artist Center's catalogue called "The Black Book." An insider told me the fresh-faced girl with bee-stung lips and piercing eyes was being groomed to be kween. But you know what they say: God laughs at our plans. Sarah had a public falling out with her home network, and, just her luck, got pregnant a few months later. (FYI, Sarah's pregnancy happened AFTER the spat with GMA, contrary to speculations then.) She was a teenager who had issues to settle in court; she was a kid about to have a kid. Abortion—the solution many a celebrity who has much to lose has undergone—never ever crossed the scared but resolute girl's mind. "I didn't have the strength to do it. I just loved what was inside of me already. It was me and @richardgutz. It was our love for each other. I couldn't bear the thought of killing what was inside me." (Nota Bene: That is Sarah's personal choice. She has nothing against those who choose otherwise.) So the twosome decided to keep the baby and make it work. Sarah flew to Geneva so she could have peace and quiet during the pregnancy, and Richard would visit her for 4 to 5 days at a time. Captain Barbel was her rock through it all. "Sobrang nahirapan ako for Chard kasi imagine nandito siya nagte-taping, walang tulog. And then he would go there [Switzerland], jet lag siya pagdating niya. Aalis siya after 3, 4 days, jet lag pa rin siya [sa Philippines]," she recalls. "It was really a sacrifice that we both made for Zion and we don't regret anything." The only thing she regrets is disappointing her mom and seeing the latter cry upon finding out that her unica hija, then one of GMA's most promising young stars, was on the family way. "I'm a mother now. If I had a daughter who is in the same situation [I was in] I would feel the same way." But rather than dwelling on that, Sarah focuses on the now. "There's no use going back to the past because I have a lot of dreams pa and I have so many things I want to do and achieve and I know I will. Because when I want to do something, I don't quit and I just do it." Yep. Sarah Lahbati has just begun.

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About Dexie J Wharton

Mother of 2. She drinks a lot of coffee on weekdays and she drinks wine on the weekend. She also eats a lot of chocolate, pork, and sushi.