Sharon Cuneta

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Sharon Cuneta
Birth name Sharon Gamboa Cuneta
Born (1966-01-06) January 6, 1966 (age 48)
Origin Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines
Genres Original Pilipino Music, easy listening, adult contemporary, Manila sound
Occupations Singer, Actress, TV Host
Years active 1978–present

Sharon Gamboa Cuneta-Pangilinan, better known as Sharon Cuneta, is a multi-awarded Filipino singer, actress and TV host dubbed The Megastar of Philippine Entertainment, and fondly called "Mega" or "Shawie" by fans and people from the entertainment industry.[1][2][3]

Her success in the movies (53 starring roles), television (10 shows) and recording (40 albums) make her one of The Most Successful Filipina Actress.[4][5] Her popularity has translated well into the field of advertising, where she is the highest paid and most effective Filipino celebrity endorser.[2][6] Cuneta's long list of endoresements run the gamut from fastfood chain to bank, from make-up line to electronics, from ice cream to tele-communication company.[7][8][9]

On November 22, 2011, following months of speculations, Sharon's big move to TV5 was made official by signing a staggering 1 billion contract with the Kapatid Network – the highest ever paid to a Filipino artist. She parted ways with ABS-CBN, her home network of 24 years, on a cordial note.[10] Her daily afternoon talk show Sharon: Kasama Mo, Kapatid premiered on May 14, 2012 and has been hailed as an engaging program that aims to entertain and to inspire. The show provides the perfect platform for Sharon to be in touch with her audience, reaffirming her stature as a well-loved icon who is now more accessible to fans and viewers alike.[11][12][13]

In 2013, Cuneta returned to television with her very first comedy series in her 35 year career as an entertainer entitled, Madam Chairman, which premiered in October 2013 on TV5.[14]

Early life[edit]

Cuneta was born on January 6, 1966 to parents, Pablo Cuneta (former mayor of Pasay City and mayor with the longest years of service in Philippine history) and Elaine Gamboa (sister of 60s Shingaling Sweetheart, Helen Gamboa). She has lived most of her early years in one of the exclusive villages in the South, Dasmarinas Village.[15]

Cuneta grew up surrounded by music, listening to her dad's collection of 45s, 78s and 331/3s. Cuneta during her early years made her first TV appearance in Kuya Ike Lozada's show, in the Bulilit portion, where she mimicked her Aunt Helen's songs. Cuneta was just as young when she appeared in her first movie, the Rosanna Ortiz-George Estregan starrer 'Lovers for Hire'. She played one of Roderick Paulate's playmates.[15]

Cuneta attended St. Paul University Manila and International School Manila for her primary to secondary education.[16]

At the age of 11, in one of the parties Cuneta and her family has attended, she was asked to sing one of Cinderella's 70s hits entitled, '"Bato sa Buhangin". One of the guests in the party was TV host and comedian, Tito Sotto, who was Vicor Records' vice president at that time. Sotto invited Cuneta to make a record under the label he works for.[17]

Cuneta recorded her first single entitled, "Tawag ng Pag-ibig" (Call of Love) at the age of 12. However, the record received a lukewarm response from the public as they felt that Cuneta was too young to record a love song, yet too old to record a children's song.


1978–1980: Career Beginnings, Jukebox Princess[edit]

After the lukewarm response to her first single, "Tawag ng Pag-Ibig", Sotto tapped composer, Rey Valera to create a song for the 12 year old aspiring singer. Valera composed, "Mr. DJ" and handed it over to Sotto.

Cuneta first appeared on Philippine pop charts in 1978 with the Filipino pop culture hit "Mr. D.J.". The song became popular that gave her the moniker, "DJ's Pet) (which also became the title of her debut LP. Cuneta release one hit single after another including "Naaalala Ka", "I-Swing Mo Ako", "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko" and "High School Life" which were also part of the Manila Sound era.

Aside from her recording career, Cuneta also began hosting with her aunt, Helen Gamboa in a variety show entitled, C.U.T.E. or Call Us Two for Entertainment in GMA7.[18]

In 1980, Cuneta was tapped to sing the theme song of a Vilma Santos starrer and a Cebu Film Festival entry entitled, "Langis at Tubig" (Oil and Water). The song was also Cuneta's first George Canseco song.

At the time of the Cebu Film Festival, Santos was pregnant, Director Danny Zialcita asked Cuneta to pinch-hit, to ride the float during the parade. Zialcita told her: "If you would do this for me I will make you a star. It was a commitment, a promise I made to her."[19]

1981–1983: Dear Heart and Early Movie Career[edit]

In 1981, Contrary to popular notion, Cuneta's first movie was not produced by Viva Films but by a production outfit known as Sining Silangan. Director Danny Zialcita was tapped to direct the film; part of his job was also to convince the Cuneta household to allow Sharon to jump into acting.

Almers De Luna, a proud member of the group Sharon's Angels, revealed that the Cunetas asked for a P220,000-talent fee, which at the time was a staggering amount for a newcomer. To the disbelief of Sharon's parents, Sining Silangan agreed to pay the sum without reservation.[20]

Cuneta starred in her very first feature film entitled, "Dear Heart". She was paired with then Close-Up model and Regal Films' 80s hearthrob, Gabby Concepcion. Dear Heart made a killing in terms of blockbuster revenues. But more than the astronomical figures, the film significantly paved the way for the Sharon-Gabby love team mania that swept the ‘80s.[21]

Due to the commercial success of "Dear Heart" and the team-up of Cuneta and Concepcion (which later on became one of the most successful screen team ups in Philippine movies), it demanded an immediate follow up. Since Sining Silangan didn't have the means to create an immediate follow up movie for Dear Heart, Pablo Cuneta collaborated with Vic Del Rosario, and established Viva Films.

On November 12, 1981, Viva Films released its very first feature film, "P.S. I Love You", still starring Cuneta and Concepcion. The movie became a huge box-office hit as well, which was also followed by another Sharon-Gabby starrer, "My Only Love", released on 1982. Her movies with Concepcion earned her the title, "Popular Teenage Queen of RP Movies" from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation.[22]

Cuneta was also paired with other leading men, with the likes of William Martinez (in "Forgive and Forget"), Rowell Santiago (in "Cross My Heart" and "Friends In Love") and Miguel Rodriguez (in "To Love Again") from 1982 to 1983, which made her the Ms. RP Movies for the years mentioned.[22]

Her early movie roles launched her as a "poor little rich girl". Although raised in an influential rich political family, she appealed to the sosyal (socially rich) and masa (poor masses) crowd of Philippine society, with her intelligence, humor and down-to-earth personality.

Aside from gracing the movies, Cuneta continued hosting with other teenage prodigies on the noon time show, Germspesyal, later called GMA Supershow, with German Moreno. She also released hit albums such as "PS I Love You" (1981), "Sixteen" (1982) and "Sharon & Love" (1983).

She also recorded theme songs for Viva's heavy drama releases such as "Sinasamba Kita" (1982) and "Init Sa Magdamag" (1983).

1984: Box-Office Queen and "Megastar"[edit]

She paved her way to fame in the early 1980s as a young recording artist and eventually made it successful as a teen actress. Sharon was one of the top stars amongst her contemporaries together with Snooky Serna, Maricel Soriano and Julie Vega.

After playing "poor little rich girl" roles in her earlier movies, Viva Films decided to bring Cuneta to a wider variety of roles. After a year of hiatus in the movies, Cuneta was paired once again to Gabby Concepcion via the movie, "Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin?" which turned out to be a box office hit and led to the reconciliation of the couple after breaking up in 1982.

In July 1984, Cuneta took on a rags-to-riches role for the first time with the movie, "Bukas, Luluhod And Mga Tala". It was shown against the revolt film and Vilma Santos starrer, "Sister Stella L".[23] "Bukas, Luluhod.." became a huge box office hit, beating the Santos' starrer, and eventually crowned Cuneta as 1984's Box Office Queen of RP Movies.[24]

Cuneta also staged a two-night sold-out major concert at the Araneta Coliseum entitled, "Sharon Solo with the Boys" on July 20 & 21, 1984 and was cited as the year's Most Outstanding Female Concert Hall Act by Aliw Awards.[25]

In September 23, 1984, Cuneta publicly married on-screen partner Gabby Concepcion at the Manila Cathedral. The ceremony was filmed and later on released as "The Best of Sharon & Gabby" on October the same year. It was followed by another Sharon-Gabby starrer entitled, "Sa Hirap at Ginhawa" the following month.[26]

In 1985, a pet project of the late Mina Aragon-del Rosario, Bituing Walang Ningning was made into a motion picture by Viva Films starring Cuneta, Christopher de Leon and Cherie Gil. Back then one sure way to ensure great box-office returns was to adapt a komiks story to the screen. Bituin.. was a big seller. Cuneta was then pregnant with KC Concepcion, her first born with Concepcion. The movie was released on Valentine's Day, 1985. The movie was a huge box office success, crowning Cuneta once again as 1985's Box Office Queen of RP Movies and "Bida sa Takilya", the latter given at the 1986 FAMAS Awards. The moniker, "Megastar" was also given to her by the press during that year because of her continuous success in the box office[27]

Cuneta was also recognized as 1984's Best Actress by FAMAS for her performance in "Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin" and by the Film Academy of the Philippines for "Sa Hirap at Ginhawa".[24]

In 1986, Cuneta's string of hit movies continued as she stars on three big blockbuster movies: "Nakagapos Na Puso" (with Lorna Tolentino), "Captain Barbell" (where she played a cameo role as Darna) and "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas" (with Cherie Gil and Dina Bonnevie), the latter crowning her once again as 1986's Box Office Queen of RP Movies.[22]

Her first solo musical-variety show, The Sharon Cuneta Show, also premiered on September 1986 on IBC, which also went on to be one of the longest running musical-variety shows in Philippine television.[28]

1987: Separation from Gabby Concepcion and Pasan Ko Ang Daigdig[edit]

In 1987, Cuneta starred in the comedy flick, Jack 'n Jill, opposite Herbert Bautista. The movie spelled success in the box-office, which demanded a sequel the following year (Jack 'n Jill Sa Amerika).

On August 1987, after almost 3 years of marriage, Cuneta parted ways with then husband Gabby Concepcion due to irreconcilable differences and bigamy, as Concepcion was already married to a certain Jennifer Martin prior to his marriage with Cuneta.[29]

Cuneta also worked with National Artist for Film, Lino Brocka, for the first time via the movie "Pasan Ko Ang Daigdig". The movie didn't fare well at the box office however it has earned Cuneta another Best Actress nomination from FAMAS.[22]

In 1988, Cuneta only did two movies, "Jack 'n Jill Sa Amerika" and "Buy One, Take One", both receiving lukewarm response from the public.

Her musical variety show, "The Sharon Cuneta Show" also transferred to a different network, from IBC to ABS-CBN on March 6, 1988.[30]

Cuneta also continued touring abroad with "The Sharon Cuneta US Concert Tour '88" and was given a Plaque of Welcome and Appreciation from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley at her show at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.[24]

In 1989, Cuneta worked with Lino Brocka once again in two movies, "3 Mukha Ng Pag-ibig" and "Babangon Ako't Dudurugin Kita", the latter giving her another Best Actress nomination from FAMAS and the Film Academy of the Philippines.[24]

1990-1995: Box-Office Hall of Fame[edit]

Cuneta's reign as box-office queen even made stronger when she did movies with the popular action stars like Fernando Poe Jr. (Kahit Konting Pagtingin-1990) Robin Padilla ,(Maging Sino Ka Man-1991), Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr. (Pangako Sa 'Yo-1992), Rudy Fernandez (Kung Kailangan Mo Ako-1993) to name a few. All those movies were certified blockbusters, that though she was already elevated to Hall of Fame as Box-Office Queen in 1990, she was crowned again in 1991 through 1993 because of the success of her movies.[24]

Cuneta also reconciled with estranged husband, Gabby Concepcion, in three more movies, "Bakit Ikaw Pa Rin?" (1990), "Una Kang Naging Akin" (1991) and "Tayong Dalawa" (1992), the latter giving her a grandslam Best Actress nomination from PMPC Star Awards for Movies, FAMAS, Film Academy of the Philippines and Gawad Urian.[24]

In 1992, Cuneta reunites with former flame, Richard Gomez in the movies via "Ngayon at Kailanman", and another it was repeated in 1994 with "Kapantay Ay Langit".

Cuneta also worked with musicians, Gary Valenciano in "Kaputol Ng Isang Awit" (1991), Ariel Rivera in "Ikaw" (1993), and rapper Andrew E. in "Megamol" (1994).

In 1995, Cuneta reunites with the King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe, Jr. in "Minsan Pa... (Kahit Konting Pagtingin 2)", and also worked for the very first time with Cesar Montano in "The Lilian Velez Story (Till Death Do Us Part)", however, the latter bombed at the box-office.

1996: 'Madrasta', Second marriage and hiatus[edit]

For the first time, in 1996, Cuneta made a movie outside her mother studio Viva Films via the movie Madrasta from Star Cinema. This movie garnered her Best Actress Awards from all major award-giving bodies in the Philippines, hence a Grandslam win for her outstanding performance in the movie. Cuneta became one of the few actresses (along with Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, and Lorna Tolentino) to be given a grand slam best actress award in Philippine Cinema.[31][verification needed]

On April 28, 1996, Sharon Cuneta walked down the aisle for the second time, to marry Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan in a private ceremony at the Cuneta residence in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City.

In 1997, Cuneta also worked once again with Cesar Montano in "Wala Nang Iibigin Pang Iba" and with Albert Martinez in "Nang Iniwan Mo Ako", the latter giving her another grandslam Best Actress nomination the following year.

On June 15, 1997, Cuneta's long-time running musical variety show, "The Sharon Cuneta Show" bid its final bow as she left the country for a while to be with her husband in Boston who was studying at Harvard University then. Even though Cuneta was not in the country, she remained in the limelight because of her many TV commercials that Filipinos were able to view everyday.

When she arrived in 1998 from a year of living in Boston, ABS-CBN produced a talk show for her comeback entitled Sharon. The musical gab fest served as Cuneta's TV comeback after a year of hiatus from show business. The show would've had a successful six-year run becoming a top rating weekly program and clinched Best Talk Show honors and Best Talk Show Host accolades for Cuneta.

2000s: Multi-media Megastar[edit]

In 2000, Cuneta managed to maintain her status as one of the bankable stars of Philippine show business by filming another blockbuster movie from Star Cinema entitled Minsan Minahal Kita" opposite Richard Gomez which earned P10 million on its opening day.[32] However in September the same year, Cuneta's late father, Pablo Cuneta, mayor of Pasay City for four decades died at the age of 90.

In 2000, she gave birth to her second child Simone Francesca Emmanuelle (Frankie) and did a movie the following year opposite Robin Padilla via "Pagdating ng Panahon". "Pagdating ng Panahon" was also Viva Films' 20th anniversary offering, however the movie bombed at the box-office as the role Cuneta played was not apt for her.[33]

In 2002, Cuneta celebrated her 25th year in show business with a two night sold out concert at the Araneta Coliceum dubbed "The Mega Event". She replicated the same feat in a similar concert later in Cebu City. The same year,Cuneta was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Board of Directors of the Phil. Association of Recording Industry via the Dangal ng Musikang Plilipino Award on her 25th years in music industry.

She was named Best Actress during the 2002 Manila Film Festival in June for her role in Viva Films' "Magkapatid", as a busy doctor and mother whose close relationship with a younger sister (Judy Ann Santos) is put to the test when she loses her child because of that sister's negligence.

In the same month she was given a civic award by the City of Manila the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinwigan for cinema. Other list of awardees included the likes of Raul Locsin for architecture, Agnes Arellano for sculpture and the late Santiago Bose for new art form.[34]

In the last quarter of the year, she launched her first international album under BMG records in Singapore.

In 2003, Cuneta made three movies. In May, she did "Walang Kapalit" opposite Richard Gomez, under Viva Films. In September, she also made a movie for the first time with actor, Aga Muhlach via "Kung Ako Na Lang Sana", under Star Cinema.

On December 2003, she made a film with independent producer Unitel Pictures entitled Crying Ladies. With this film, she won a Best Actress award locally from the PASADO Awards and the People's Choice Award in the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festiva. She was also cited as Best Actress internationally at the Brussels International Independent Film Festival held in 2004.

The only Celebrity contestant who made a second appearance in the franchise "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE", Won P1,000,000 (14th question) during her first appearance in 2001 and won the grand prize 2,000,000 on her second appearance on January 9, 2010.

2004-2005: Third pregnancy and hiatus[edit]

On May 9, 2004, Cuneta took a break from her weekly Sunday musical talk show, Sharon, to give way for her third pregnancy. She gave birth to her third child (and second to husband Kiko Pangilinan), Mariel Daniella Sophia (Miel), in September 2004.

In 2005, Cuneta did a brief comeback on TV with a birthday special entitled, Wish Upon a Mega and released an album entitled, Sharon Sings Alcasid, a compilation of her versions of songs written by Ogie Alcasid.

2006-2011: Return to movie roles and final projects with ABS-CBN[edit]

She did not make any movies from 2004 through 2007 while she concentrated her career in television and music. For 2006, she released a studio album entitled, Isn't it Romantic, which was awarded with a Diamond certification (sold over 250,000 units in the Philippines).[35] It was followed with the making of Isn't it Romantic II in 2007.

On January 6, 2006, Cuneta returned to television from her maternity leave with a 40th birthday celebration on ABS-CBN's Ang Pagbabalik Ng Bituin ("The Return of the Star"). The following month, she came back to her musical talk show, Sharon.

After a long rest from filmmaking, she made another movie entitled Caregiver in 2008 which, according to ABS-CBN, is their most expensive film. In this film, Cuneta played the role of a school teacher working abroad as a caregiver. The movie was a certified blockbuster making it one of the highest grossing films of 2008.[36]

In 2009, Cuneta did a movie with Comedy Concert Queen, Ai ai Delas Alas via BFF (Best Friends Forever) and for the first time in her 30 years in show business a movie with Regal Entertainment via Mano Po 6 (which later on gave her another Best Actress citation at the 2009 Metro Manila Film Festival).

Her long-time nanny Loreta Benitez aka "Yaya Luring" passed away last December 19, 2009 at the age of 83 due to cardiac arrest.

On January 12, 2010, coinciding with her annual birthday show, her self-titled magazine Sharon at Home[37] was launched and has since become one of the best-selling titles of ABS-CBN Publishing.

Her long time running musical talk show, Sharon, bid its final bow on October 3, 2010, to be replaced by a talent show (which she also hosted) entitled "Star Power" with singers Christian Bautista & Erik Santos as her co-hosts. Her panel of judges were Edgar Mortiz, Mitch Valdez, & Billy Crawford.

After Star Power, Cuneta hosted the Philippine franchise of the popular US reality show, The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition on May 30, 2011. She hosted with actor, Derek Ramsay.[38]

2011-present: Transfer to TV 5 and Madam Chairman[edit]

On November 22, 2011, Cuneta left ABS-CBN, her home network of 23 years, and signed a five-year contract with TV5. The contract was rumored to be worth one billion pesos, according to celebrity tweets in microblogging site Twitter, which is the biggest talent fee ever of any local artist in the Philippine showbiz history.[39]

In 2012, Cuneta started her first talk show under her new network entitled, "Sharon: Kasama Mo, Kapatid". The show ran for eight months .[40] Cuneta reportedly went on an extended vacation in the United States after a concert in Cache Creek Casino Resort, California.

In September 2013, Cuneta became a co-host of musical variety talk show "The Mega and the Songwriter" alongside Ogie Alcasid.[41] Cuneta's comedy series, "Madam Chairman", premiered on October 14. It was her first TV series in 35 years. It revolves around a barangay chairwoman and her struggles in dividing her role as a mother and as a public official.[42]

International success[edit]

Cuneta is the first Filipina artist to sell out at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium first in 1988 and her latest June 11, 2005 concert. Her poster is included in The Shrine's Hall of Fame next to stars Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. She created a traffic jam in the 1990s and puzzled the former Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley. After hearing of her success, the mayor attended the concert and awarded Cuneta with an Honorary Key to the City of Los Angeles.

She sang a duet in the 2001 with Hong Kong star Andy Lau, with whom she sang "In Your Eyes" composed by Jim Brickman.

Personal life[edit]

Cuneta publicly married Gabby Concepcion on September 23, 1984, but got separated in 1987, and later on annulled in 1993 due to irreconcilable differences. Their wedding ceremony became the most attended nuptial in Philippine history, which was held at the Manila Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and was personally sponsored by Ferdinand Marcos and various high-ranking Roman Catholic prelates of the Republic of the Philippines. Together, they have a daughter named Maria Kristina Cassandra Cuneta Concepcion, or better known as KC Concepcion.

After her separation from Concepcion, Cuneta married Kiko Pangilinan on April 28, 1996. The two tied the knot in a very private ceremony, attended only by Pangilinan's siblings and principal sponsors Helen Gamboa and husband Tito Sotto III. According to Cuneta's mom Elaine Gamboa-Cuneta, the two had originally planned to hold the wedding at a hotel, but she insisted that they relocate it at her house since Sharon expressed that she didn't want a "circus" similar to her first wedding.[43]

Cuneta has two daughters with Pangilinan named Simone Francesca Emmanuelle "Frankie" Cuneta Pangilinan and Mariel Daniella Sophia "Miel" Cuneta Pangilinan, and an adopted son named Miguel Samuel Mateo Cuneta Pangilinan.

Other Ventures[edit]


Cuneta was hailed as the Endorsement Queen and the most expensive and effective product endorser in the country.[44][45] She has endorsed a string of products, from fastfood chains to feminine wash, to detergent soaps to shipping lines.

McDonalds, Coca Cola, Lux, Selecta, SuperFerry, Globe Telecom, pH Care, Lucky Me, Alaska Milk and Tempra were some of the products were Cuneta became a notable ambassador. At one time, Cuneta was earning 8 million to 15 million Philippine Pesos per product endorsed.[45]

Sharon at Home Magazine[edit]

Cuneta has also released her own lifestyle magazine entitled, "Sharon at Home", published by ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. It features a different side of the multi-awarded singer, actress, and TV host. The Megastar serves as the magazine's editor-in-chief and for the maiden issue, she welcomes readers into her home and shares her entertaining tips, finds, and recipes, as well as crafts that could help make your gatherings even more special and memorable.[46]

"Sharon at Home" was able to publish 7 issues before Cuneta left her home network for 23 years, ABS-CBN, who was also the publisher of the magazine.

Celebrations by Sharon home line merchandises[edit]

Cuneta released a line of cookware, bakeware, culinary herbs, and kitchen appliances via Celebrations by Sharon. From non-stick bakeware and stainless aluminum pots to blenders and a variety of culinary herbs. Celebrations by Sharon was made available in SM Homeworld for the cookware and bakeware lines, SM Appliance Center for the small kitchen appliances, and any Refreshers by Gourmet’s branch for Sharon culinary herbs.[47]

Real Estate enterprises and other business ventures[edit]

Cuneta owns a residential project of six high-quality exclusive four-storey townhouses at No. 74 Scout Rallos, Quezon City, a stone’s throw from the trendy restaurants in the area and within walking distance to and from Tomas Morato and Timog Avenues.[48]

Aside from residential real estate enterprises, Cuneta along with husband, Kiko Pangilinan currently owns a three hectare farm called, "Sweet Spring Country Farm" in the uplands of Alfonso, Cavite.[49]