Body Talk with Lea Salonga
Have you ever wondered where Lea Salonga gets all that energy?
She's everywhere - on Broadway, at the CCP, all over! - and forever on her feet, doing something, anything, everything! Doesn't she get tired?
She's good in everything she does. Correction, not just good but excellent! As an actress, as wife (to Robert Chien) and as mother (to Nicole).
Until the 24th of this month, Lea is on the CCP Main Theater stage, dazzling in Cinderella (in the title role), with Australian actor Peter Saide as her Prince Charming, directed by Bobby Garcia. After its Philippine run, the musical (presented by Ascorbic Acid Ceelin, with The Philippine STAR among its partners) will go on a 30-week Asian tour covering Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea.
A grueling schedule that requires super-human effort, strength and endurance, right?
So, have you ever wondered where Lea gets all that stamina and energy?
I did - and asked her where.
How do you keep up with your back-breaking schedule?
"I make sure that I get enough rest time in between my commitments, gigs, press events and whatever else fills my calendar. I'm not the nicest person to deal with when I'm tired, and I'm unable to perform at my best."
How much sleep do you get per night?
"Before I had my daughter, I would easily get eight hours, maybe more if I was really tired. Now, I manage quite well with six or seven. If I need one, I also take a nap."
What kind of diet do you follow?
"I don't diet anymore. I've tried Atkins, South Beach, Fit for Life at various points in my life. Now, I just try to eat what I know will fuel me for the day ahead, making sure I include fruits and vegetables, carbs, proteins and plenty of water."
What's usually for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Any snacks in-between? What kind of food do you love and what kind do you avoid?
"It depends. The cook usually goes to town for this first meal. If I'm ravenously hungry, I'll have rice, eggs, and some type of breakfast meat. Because I wake up late in the morning, it turns out to be more of brunch than breakfast. If I don't want to eat much, a bowl of oatmeal or cereal will do the trick."
Do you observe a special diet when you have a concert or a play?
"Now that Cinderella is in its run, I have a sandwich (usually chicken or tuna) a couple of hours before the show. I can't eat heavy before a performance; a heavy meal would make me feel sluggish and heavy. While the show is going on, I drink plenty of water. It's very warm on the CCP stage, and I perspire a lot."
What vitamins do you take?
"I take a women's multivitamin, flax oil, calcium and extra vitamin C. That's about it."
How much water do you take per day?
"I drink at least eight glasses a day, at least four of them during a show."
What about soda, coffee or tea, juices?
"I'm not the hugest juice drinker in the world now, and I do try to avoid soda. However, I do enjoy coffee and green tea. My weakness with the coffee: Milk and a non-caloric sweetener."
Do you have sweet tooth?
"Hmmm...not really, but I do like a spoonful of something after a really wonderful meal."
How do you take care of your voice?
"I sleep or rest when I need to, use a humidifier in my hotel room and dressing room when I have to perform in drier climates and cities, and drink plenty of water. I also avoid overly spicy food. I have hyperacidity so I regularly take medicine to manage that condition. It helps to keep the acid away from my vocal cords. The meds can only be taken on the advice of a medical doctor."
Are you not supposed to talk a few hours before the start of a play?
"Oh, I can talk just fine before a show, but not too much. Meaning, I can't do any interviews (if I can help it) just before I have to perform."
Are ice-cold drinks bad for the voice?
"They tend to freeze my throat and voice, so I only take cold drinks when I'm not working for longer periods of time. So at the moment, I'm avoiding anything that's too cold."
Do you sing Nicole to sleep? What songs suit her best?
"I sing whatever she wants me to sing, which can include anything from Sesame Street, Aladdin or Mulan. Sometimes she requests nursery rhymes or the ABC song. It's pretty funny!"
How often do you see your doctor (for voice), dentist, dermatologist?
"I see my EENT as needed, my dentist twice a year and my dermatologist as needed. I'll probably see my dermatologist at the end of my Manila run in Cinderella to prep my skin before I head off to China, then see her again whenever I come home."
How do you cope with stress?
"I smell my daughter's hair. It works! I also make time for a trip to the nearby spa for a foot reflexology massage or get together for dinner and conversation with good friends."
Do you meditate?
"Not really. I pray a lot, though."
Do you get a massage?
"Oh, I do as often as I possibly can. Right now, Cinderella is keeping me on my feet, either running around or dancing, which means that my body is just exhausted at the end of the work week. A massage is now a requirement, not a luxury."
Do you listen to music, watch DVDs?
"Oh yes, I do. I listen to music while I'm doing my makeup for a show. As for DVDs, I haven't had the time lately."
"My old Pidro (by Danny Javier) nightshirts. No one makes them anymore. I threw one out already because it was so full of holes, but the rest that I still have are so soft... nothing else compares to them."
Do you snore, talk in your sleep or sleepwalk?
"According to my husband, I've talked in my sleep a few times, but I don't snore. I don't sleepwalk either."
How many pillows do you sleep with? Do you like the aircon turned on full blast?
"Yes, the aircon needs to be on, but not full blast. I don't like it too cold... just comfortable. I sleep with a pillow under my head, and one I need to hug."
How do you take care of your skin? Are you afraid of the sun?
"I stay out of the sun not because I don't want to get darker (I would love to be a couple shades tanner than I am now, to be honest), but I start to itch when I'm under direct sunlight for too long. I make sure I wear sunscreen with a high SPF if I'm going to spend time at the pool or on the beach. I also make sure my daily facial moisturizer has sunscreen."
What kind of workout do you do?
"The SHOW!!! I'm exhausted after it's over, and it's not just from the singing. I get to dance, run around, and go up and down flights of stairs. At one point, wearing a very, very heavy gown. Whew! I also go to a dance class when I can. This is one activity I really enjoy, more than anything else."
What part of your body needs improvement?
"My thighs and my upper arms. They've never really been slim, though. My abs are strong from my singing."
What part is most vulnerable?
"My chest, I think, so I keep that wrapped and covered. Same goes for my throat and neck. My feet are also a bit weak. I'm flat-footed, and I've sprained my ankles a lot."
And what part is your favorite?
"My hands and my neck. My shoulders are also starting to improve."
Name three men you think have nice bodies.
"George Clooney is sexy, period. Can I name him two more times? Oh, okay, fine. Piolo Pascual looks great always... and Brad Pitt. Another mention must go to Gerard Butler."
And three women who have nice bodies.
"KC Concepcion because she isn't scrawny, she looks physically strong. Marian Rivera (I mean, every part of her looks beautiful). And Angelina Jolie. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for her. One more: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, for looking more and more beautiful, fit and strong the older she gets. She's unreal, and inspiring."
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