How can someone like Claudine Barretto take such a difficult personal journey?
Was it her own doing? Or was it just a cruel twist of fate? Or God’s calling to bring her to the light?
As we all witnessed, everything was just phenomenal for this actress—molded, nurtured, and emboldened in one stellar environment, shooting to fame like no other young actress can, and become one genuine star millions look up to.
Toast of the teleserye game
Claudine became the toast of the just established primetime teleserye game with one top-rating program after another. Of course, the entire nation first knew her as Via in her career-defining portrayal in Mula Sa Puso that made an entire generation of young Filipinas identify with her, and audiences in general sympathize with her perilous yet fulfilling story. Since then, that connection stuck with viewers in subsequent TV dramas and films.
What made her even more phenomenal was her team-up with Rico Yan that turned cult status after Mula Sa Puso. It was a love team for the ages that truly became the inspiration or motivating factor for a deluge of successful pairings that came after their reign. Most of all, it became a reel-to-real life romance that swept the nation.
But when Rico tragically passed on due to acute pancreatitis while vacationing in Palawan only five years after their love team hit the scene, Claudine’s life turned upside down and became the turning point in her career.
Claudine took the hurt and controversies in stride and instead focused on perfecting her craft as an actress.
She achieved this far beyond anyone expected by receiving Best Actress trophies from prestigious film award-giving bodies for her performances in Kailangan Kita (2002), Milan (2004), Nasaan Ka Man (2005), Dubai (2005), and Sukob (2006).
And, four years after the death of Rico, Claudine found what she thought was the love she could enjoy forever, marrying Raymart Santiago in ceremonies so breathtaking and awe-inspiring—a dream come true for any bride walking down the aisle.
She continued her reign as teleserye queen with the unforgettable Walang Kapalit and Iisa Pa Lamang that ruled primetime in their spectacular run from 2007-2008. But as her fans eagerly awaited her next primetime outing on ABS-CBN, one that would have supposedly featured her opposite sister Gretchen Barretto and Derek Ramsay, she announced she had left the network and signed with its closest rival in 2010.
In the years that followed, Claudine experienced the most painful, bitter, gruesome episodes in her life. Her marriage with Raymart ended up in tatters after allegations of domestic violence, theft, and drug abuse led to court cases that dwelled on fraud, protection orders and custody. This was on top of a disturbing viral video that showed her and Raymart ganging up on newspaper columnist Mon Tulfo after an altercation in the NAIA Terminal 3 Arrival Area, which led to legal action from both sides.
But what really became the most hurtful chapter was her public and ugly word war with her own siblings over personality clashes, allegations of betrayal, and scathing name-calling. She had been accused of drug use, sabotaging the career of her niece Julia, and abusing her house helpers. The screams and howls of her detractors went on and on, deafening her with despair.
But as she faced the worst, there was someone who made the most emphatic, life-changing remark that changed her perspective and inspired her. He was the late director Wenn Deramas, who practically made Claudine the star that she is when he helmed Mula Sa Puso, his maiden teleserye project.
Claudine recalls this in an interview with ABS-CBN News: "(Direk Wenn told me) na huwag ako mag breakdown, na magpakatatag para sa mga anak ko, na hindi niya binuo ang isang Claudine Barretto para sirain lang ng ibang tao or yurakan ang pagkatao. Lagi niya sinasabi na 'Kailangan mo bumangon, Claudine,'" she said.
And she followed Direk Wenn’s advice wholeheartedly.
To get the strength she needs to wither this storm, Claudine found, fostered and grew a relentless faith in God. “Prayers talaga. That’s the only thing that really kept me through. I think lahat ng trials sa buong buhay ko, kasi prayerful akong tao so alam kong matatapos din ‘yon problema ko kasi faithful ako sa Diyos,” she tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle in a separate interview.
Focus on positive people
Adding to her faith is focusing on people who would truly support you until the end.
“Surround yourself with positive people, ‘yon mga taong pagka-down na down ka, andyan. Dapat tini-treasure mo mabuti ‘yon. Dapat surrounded ka lang by positive people, pag may negative, ilayo mo na ‘yon sarili mo.”
With her new outlook in life, Claudine had since found the heart to come to terms with Raymart, whom she has put-off a planned annulment and now calls a “co-parent” in rearing their kids Sabina and Santino.
Claudine likewise ended her rift with the Tulfo brothers over the NAIA incident by approaching Raffy Tulfo at a restaurant in 2014 and clutched his arms in an Instagram photo she captioned: “Peace.” Mon had previously said he had forgiven Claudine and Raymart.
Claudine has also made peace with the once distanced sister Marjorie and attended her niece Julia’s stellar debut party last year. It was a heartwarming sight, watching this part of the Barretto clan reconciling.
And, with her new lease on life, it is but natural for Claudine to make one monumental push to make the joyous picture complete: her much-awaited comeback.
Claudine has since returned to the ABS-CBN fold and reemerged as a blockbuster actress in the Star Cinema film Etiquette for Mistresses. More projects are lined up for this Optimum Star to shine the brightest once more.