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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 19, 2018

Cebuana Actress Hits It Big In Manila, Plays The Lead Role In The Satire, 'Pinay Beauty' (She's No White), About Our Preference For Fair Skinned Beauties

CHAI FONACIER gets her first starring role in "Pinay Beauty (She's No White)". "Pero di pa nagsi-sink in sa isip ko na lead role ako rito," she says at the movie's presscon.

She's a Cebuana actress who first got noticed as Jaclyn Jose’s lesbian daughter, Jude, in last year’s sleeper hit comedy “Patay na si Hesus”, directed by Victor Villanueva, also a Cebuano. She won the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) best supporting actress award for her role in that film.

Actually, she has done another indie film before that, “Miss Bulalacao”, an entry in Cinema One Digitals in 2015. She won best supporting actress but the movie didn’t register well with audiences. In 2016, she did the ToFarm Filmfest entry, “Pauwi Na”, as the daughter of Cherry Pie Picache and Bembol Roco. She then did the 2017 Cinemalaya entry, “Respeto”, for which she won the Eddy Award for best supporting actress in her role as Betchay, the feisty street urchin.

This shows that she may be a beginner but she has already won three best supporting actress awards. She’s now based in Manila but she’s the first to admit that she doesn’t fill the bill of the usual mestiza actresses in local showbiz.

“Grabe ang self doubt ko, my reluctance, kasi I don’t trust myself enough, although I know what I’m capable of doing,” she says. “I mean, look at me, I’m not fair-skinned, I’m not tall, my hair is curly. Wala ako sa usual requirements ng showbiz industry. So for the longest time, I was holding back. Akala ko kasi noong bata pa ako, mas okay yung maputi, kasi maputi ang mother and sister ko. E, ako, nagmana sa father ko who’s not fair skinned. So I secretly got my aunt’s whitening lotion para pumuti ako but she caught me and told me that’s wrong kasi it’s stealing. When I came to Manila, I saw a billboard saying Kutis Pinay na ang models puro mestiza. Doon ko naisip, bakit may ganitong standards? So dapat, we should focus on loving ourselves beyond the color of our skin. Kaya this project na ‘Pinay Beauty” is very close to me kasi it tackles issues about beauty stereotypes. Right now, I’ve accepted who I am and I’m truly fine with what I am. Nobody has to right to comment on what or how you look. They should focus on more relevant issues like love and commitment.”

Chai’s parents are from Manila but she was born in Cagayan de Oro, where she was the member of their high school theater guild. She then moved to Cebu for college where she became a member of an improv theatre group, Performance Art Collective. This is where she started writing as a freelance content writer and also singing as vocalist of the band called Womb.

She now stars in a new movie, “Pinay Beauty (She’s No White)”, an entry in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino that is shown on August 15 to 21 and satirizes our penchant for whiter skin. In the story, she’s the girlfriend of Edgar Allan Guzman who puts his life in danger just to help her achieve her desire to be more beautiful in the story.

"I hope people will watch our film as it offers valid insights," she adds. "Kung nai-insecure ka dahil mestiza get preferential treatment, you should just bear in mind na you should love yourself, kung ano ang binigay ni Lord sa iyo. Sabi nga, you might be happy when you're beautiful, but you are more beautiful when you're happy."