With a career spanning more than half of her life so far, Sharlene San Pedro lets us in on her game play, proving why whether she lies low or emerges from the bunkers of adolescence, she is not one to be messed with.
The story of the child star isn’t exactly new in the conversation of entertainment. Since time immemorial, these fascinating children have long charmed audiences across generations with an unbridled sense of wonder, wisdom that belies their age, and heaps of talent packed into their diminutive frames. Often we ask ourselves, what were we doing at their age? While us normal folk were scraping our knees from roughhousing with neighborhood friends, groaning about school, or hypnotized by our favorite weekend cartoons, there young’uns were those already hustling, in front of the camera and broadcast on the very television we were watching, no less. One such child was Sharlene San Pedro.
“Nung bata ako, siyempre dream ko talaga maging artista. Kaya nga ako sumali ng Star Circle Quest (SCQ) before eh, kasi may napanood aka sa TV at gusto ko maging artista, gusto ko maging siya,” she shares in a call from the cold of Japan. It is a fantasy many have played out in their heads, but only a few get to live out. But while it is, at least at some parts, a joy and heightened playtime, it does come with its caveat. Fun and games? Sure. But in the same breath, most of these kids are well, for lack of a better term, forced to grow up as they navigate the business of show, all while standing toe to toe with their older and ideally more mature counterparts. But Sharlene San Pedro is quick to dismiss this as a negative, which is often the case when discussing child actors at great length. While there was no lost childhood and rebelling against an image, at least in the strictest sense, she does admit to having to growing up faster than most, something she considers to be an advantage.
“Siguro mas ano lang, naging mature agad. ‘Yung to the point na, ngayon ko pa lang dapat to nafi-figure out, pero na-figure out ko kung was bata ako kasi namulat ako sa industry na halos lahat, mature ‘yung kasama ko. Not that it’s a bad thing, para sa akin nga, okay siya,” says Sharlene San Pedro. “Pero ‘di ba, minsan dapat may tamang oras kung kelan mo dapat matutunan ang mag bagay-bagay na ganito? Parang namadali [lang]. Thankful pa din kasi maaga namulat and mas naging mature ng mas maaga.”
HER GAME PLAY
There is no ounce of irony to the words of Sharlene San Pedro. In fact, in this back and forth, she is straightforward and genuine, something that is definitely a manifestation of how level-headed she is. There is great relief to witness this, especially since many have fallen trap to the dangers of fame even at a much older age. Clearly, our heroine has wielded the double-edged sword of fame with great skill.
“To be honest, sobrang bata ko pa kasi nung nag-start ako, so parang, di ko in-expect na hanggang ngayon, nandito pa rin ako sa industry,” she shares of her 19 year tenure in the showbiz industry, which if you do the math, adds up to way more than her life so far. “Alam ko naman na ang showbiz, hindi forever, kaya nagshi-shift ako ng ibang path. Pero siyempre, ‘yun ‘yung goal ‘di ba? Hindi ‘yung biglang sikat, but longevity ng pagiging relevant mo sa industry ay nandun pa rin kahit gano ka na katagal sa industriya. Kumbaga, hindi ko na goal talaga ‘yung maging sobrang popular, pero ‘yung maging relevant at mag-marka ‘yung pangalan siyempre.”
While she did not expect to still be where she is today, given of course the fate of child stars and the current landscape of democratized entertainment, Sharlene San Pedro has always made sure to put in the work, and most importantly, keep on learning. “Pinaka-lesson na natutunan ko and na-a-apply ko sa life and career ko: dapat continuous ang learning na hindi ka din data mag-stick sa iyong comfort zone,” she asserts. “Kumbaga, kailangan lumalabas ka sa box mo para makapag try ka ng bagong bagay, bagong skills. At siyempre, makikinig ka sa lahat ng katrabaho mo dahil ang buhay naman talaga ay continuous learning ‘yan. Sa lahat ng tao may matutunan ka, depende na lang sa lahat ng pupulutin mo.”
THE QUEST CONTINUES
In all the years of trying out her luck, as is the currency of show business, the dream has not changed for Sharlene San Pedro. From her tender years in Star Circle Quest Kids Edition, Mga Anghel Na Walang Langit, and Goin’ Bulilit, to her current foray into mature roles in Ten Little Mistresses, she maintains that you really also have to want it for yourself more than anything and anyone. “What keeps me going is ‘yung passion. Kasi sa lahat naman ng bagay, 'di ka tatagal if ‘di mo gusto ‘yung ginagawa mo,” she shares. “Pero habang tumatagal, ‘yung nagiging dream ko ay tumatagal sa industry, tapos ‘yun nga, maging relevant na kahit gaano pa katagal, pag sinabi mo ‘yung pangalan ng isang actress, actor, at kung sino man, ‘yung maalala mo siya sa isang bagay. Tsaka ‘yung maging present ka lang sa kung saang career ka.”
Not one to lie, Sharlene San Pedro is the first to admit that just like anyone, we all want attention in some way, shape, or form. “Siyempre nung bata ako, parang gusto ko sikat ako. Parang lahat naman tayo, gusto natin maging popular, or competitive tayo sa iba nating mga katrabaho or kasabayan natin,” she dishes. “Pero kasi, habang tumatanda ako, na-realize ko na talagang hindi ‘yung kung gaano ka kabilis nakapunta dun, kundi kung paano ‘yung proseso. At tsaka kung sino talaga ang tatagal, kasi may ibang parang ambilis makapunta don, pero after non, wala na. Hindi ako nagsasabi sa mga kasabayan ko, pero ang goal ko lang ay longevity na maging relevant sa aking craft and ma-try ‘yung lahat ng gusto kong ma-try sa career ko.”
This realization meant coming to terms with the dictates of destiny, and yes, time. Without resistance, she was, and still is, well aware of the fact that everyone will have their time in the spotlight. So, when she had to go through the awkward stage of adolescence, as does everyone, Sharlene San Pedro didn’t so much as disappear, but chose to lay low and shift her attention to other passions and promises.
THE NOT-SO SECRET LIFE OF SHARLENE SAN PEDRO
“Actually, hindi naman choice ‘yung pag lie low eh. Kasi sa lahat ata ng ka-batch ko sa Goin’ Bulilit, nangyari sa amin lahat yun. ‘Di ba, awkward stage? Parang nag-transition ka. Siyempre, kailangan din yun gawin. Nag-aral lang din naman ako nung parang nag-lie low ako sa showbiz,” she shares. “Bata pa lang ako, nag-promise aka sa parents ko na makaka-graduate ako tsaka ‘yung kapatid kong bunso. Kahit mahirap, kahit tight ng schedule, talagang nag-finish ako ng gradeschool, highschool, and now, college. Talagang pinilit ko siya, kahit medyo natagalan lang ng konti due to the pandemic. Goal talaga siya para sa parents ko…hindi lang kasi para sa’yo ang mga pangarap mo, kundi para sa pamilya.”
And finish strong she did, graduating with a degree in psychology in 2022. “What she tackles, she conquers,” and so goes her caption accompanying her photo wearing a blue sashed toga.
Just like the games she enjoys, it is this laser-focused determination that is awe-inspiring. Obviously, she doesn’t have it any easy, and yet, she persists. Whether it is adding depth to her crafts or exploring new adventures, Sharlene San Pedro will set the goal, strategize, and see the play until the very end. “Ang gusto ko lang naman, sa lahat ng bagay, sa lahat ng career na pinapasok ko, ay maka-relate 'yung mga taong manonood, makikinig. Kumbaga, ma-touch sila in any way,” she says thoughtfully.
Over the course of her already storied career, and even her life outside the business, Sharlene San Pedro will always take a chance at possibilities. Take music, for example. While always just there, already a part of her life, it was only later on when she considered it beyond a bedroom hobby and said, “you know what, why not?”
“Nung nag audition ako sa SCQ, di naman pag-arte ang talent ko kundi pag-kanta. So, bata lang ako, sabi nasa tono naman daw ako, legit. After, na-develop siya kasi natuto ako mag gitara, sa ibang instruments, tapos kasama pa ako sa banda sa praise and worship team sa aming school before. Pagkatapos non, naging MYX VJ ako, and dun ko nakilala si Sir Monty Macalina of Mayonnaise. Sabi niya, ‘tara jam tayo.’ Tapos dun na nagsimula ang music career ko,” she recalls. To date, she has released about 10 singles, both solo efforts and as a featured artist—the latter being no small feat as she has collaborated with the likes of Zack Tabudlo and Mayonnaise. “Medyo mahiyain ako pagdating dun sa music side, kasi artista nga ako. Kaya 'yung nabigyan ako ng chance, talagang pinush ko na.”
Beyond the small and silver screen, Sharlene San Pedro continues to push herself. Clearly, this exploration of her abilities and in essence, a navigation of her limits, is one that is done under the watchful and often prying eyes of the public. Part and parcel of the industry she has long committed herself to, she is undaunted by the fact that she has grown up in front of the camera. While there are facets that she remains fiercely private about, she doesn’t shy away from showing her feisty side, especially when it comes to her other passion as a video game streamer.
“Siguro nung mga bandang teens ako, nakahiligan ko na maglaro ng mobile games. Even before, yung mga brothers ko were very into gaming, play station. So lagi akong nakikilaro. But siguro, 17, nag-start ako mag-mobile games, puro FPS (first person shooter) games. Nung nag-pandemic, dun ako nagre-download nung games na nilalaro ko,” she reveals on the pastime that has now taken on a life of its own. At this point, she is definitely a force to reckoned with as a video game streamer where she is not to be messed with. “Hindi naman I only play, but most of the time, I choose to collaborate with female streamers, because yun nga, male-dominated ang gaming industry, and I want to show the viewers that women can play, too. Kayang-kaya din talaga, and 'di lang basta laro lang, 'yung kaya din pumalag. Mas inaangat ko ang mga kababaihan, pero siyempre, di ko din tinatanggal na marami din magagaling na male gamers, pero I choose to play or collab with female streamers only.”
ALWAYS JUST THERE
Truth be told, Sharlene San Pedro never really hit the pause button of her career. She may have had to recalibrate her game plays here and there, but for the most part, she was and still is there, blipping on the radar. In fact, in what has been branded as a comeback of sorts on film, she says that her busy schedule almost prevented her from participating in the campy romp that was Ten Little Mistresses.
“At first, hihindian ko siya kasi di na talaga kaya ng load ko. But nung ni-reveal sa akin kung sino ang mga makakasama ko at nabasa ko na ang script, talagang pinilit kong isingit sa schedule kahit sobrang hirap. Naisip ko: ‘Yung mga kasama ko ngang artista dito, puro veteran actors and actresses, nasingit nila, tapos ako, ‘di ko masisingit,” she says. “So sabi ko, sige, gagawin ko to para magulat din ‘yung mga supporters ko na mistress na yung role, iba na, 'di na kagaya sa Sharlene na napapanood nila before. Tsaka sobra din akong tiwala sa materyal na binigay. Special din siya, kasi 'yung first ever director sa first ever film ko, siya din 'yung director sa Ten Little Mistresses.”
Just like her contemporaries from the eponymous kiddie comedy show, Goin’ Bulilit, this turn marked a significant shift in her professional career. Careening from the cutesy, google-eyed template that is typical of her age bracket, Sharlene San Pedro displayed a wisdom in her choice. “Yes, of course, sobrang nakakatuwa na ‘yung iba kong mga kasabayan ko sa Goin Bulilit ay nagshi-shift na into mature roles. Kasi siyempre, it’s about time, kelan pa, di ba? Ang tatanda na namin. Even before naman, ayoko na tumanggap ng mga pang-teens, kilig-kilig roles,” she discloses. “Gusto ko may sinasabi na ‘yung mga materyal na tatanggapin ko. ‘Yung mga projects na gagawin ko, talagang may matutunan na, kumbaga lahat makaka-relate, ‘di lang ka-edad ko. Hopefully soon, kapag may makita ako ulit na magandang material at may nag-inquire, bakit hindi.”
AND SO SUSTAINED
At this point, Sharlene San Pedro acknowledges how inextricably linked her life is from the entertainment industry. But more than the lure of the spotlight, it is the deeper understanding of life and the further comprehension of the human condition that excites her as she sets her sights on the horizon of her career. “Hindi ko din talaga kaya matanggal ang acting sa mga ginagawa ko, kasi bata pa lang ako, ‘yun na ang ginagawa ko. Parang lahat ng ginagawa ko ngayon, nagiging outlet ‘pag napapagod ako sa isang bagay,” she says, so sustained.
Owning up to the wisdom she has accumulated over the years, as well as of the experience that life has offered her thus far, the young actress, singer, and streamer turns sentimental to the people that look up to her, the youth especially. “Sa younger Sharlene, and younger kids, don’t be too hard on yourself. If things don’t fall into place, kung gaano mo ine-expect, take it easy lang. Tapos 'yun, makikinig sa parents mo, always observe, and be mindful…be sensitive sa mga katrabaho mo. Be selfless and never be selfish,” she reminds. “And 'wag mo ikumpara mo ang sarili mo sa ibang mga kasabayan mo or ka-edaran mo kasi you are unique in your own way. May mga bagay na nagagawa ka na 'di nila nagagawa, and vice versa. Mahalin mo lang sarili mo, just be yourself.”
Sure, this is easier said than done, and she knows this all too well. With a considerable space to figure out the rest of life and its many excruciating and euphoric levels, it is understandable how the young’uns, Sharlene included, can have their heads up in the clouds from time to time. After all, kids should be left alone to be kids. But without rushing be all grown up, just perhaps more mindful of the world that has evolved right before our very eyes, Sharlene San Pedro carefully interrupts the haze of idealism to, in a move of more impactful punctuation, assert that whatever the discipline may be, “small consistent acts create a huge impact when continued over a long period of time.”
And that’s how you play the game.
Photography Aya Cabauatan
Creative direction Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena
Fashion direction and Styling Lyn Alumno
Makeup Abby Reyes
Assisted by Kim-Andre Piedad
Hair Mark Capalar
Video Direction Kenneth Dimaano
Videographer Mina Aglipay
Shoot Coordination Mika Tafalla
Shot on Location at Sine Pop and Harold’s Evotel
Photographer’s assistants Jr Baylon and Fernando Agustin
Special thanks to Ria Gamboa, Star Magic, Carlson Chan of Sine Pop, John Paul Halili of Harolds Evotel, Quezon City
CONTINUE READING: 7 Times Sharlene San Pedro Proved She's A Girl Boss Gamer