Suit, Jun Escario; earrings, Joanique
She is talking about her three-year marriage to businessman Paolo Valderrama, COO of the family-run Marby Food Ventures. They met through the groom’s sister, Sheila, and tied the knot in 2016. The couple was then faced with a glaring question: Would Cris keep her surname? “I think I’d worked way too hard since I was nine years old to build Cris Villonco,” she affirms. While she goes by Ana Cristina Villonco Valderrama on paper and in daily matters, she knows she can never fully let go of being a Villonco and her husband understands how much her identity means to her.
“On the second day of our marriage, I sat him down and asked, ‘What do you expect me to do?’ but he said we should enjoy this moment,” after more prodding on what his expectations were for their marriage, she says the expectations were minimal. “I was so grateful that he was so understanding of that.” Since then, Cris tells us she's been very lucky. “He has really given me the floor for the past three years.”
Recently in their relationship, she says, there have been talks of shifting responsibilities and plans for a plausible pregnancy but she's been swamped with project after project. Her greatest semblance to a day job is manning operations at events venue, White Space, where one can find her two to three times a week. On rehearsal days, she's out of the house by 10 a.m.,“I'm warmed up, my voice is intact, and I pretty much get my lines down or am ready to work with the director.”
Confidently, Cris declares she has had to audition for most of the roles she’s landed, despite gossip from naysayers. Cris credits her love for the performing arts to her grandmother, the late Armida Siguion-Reyna. “I was able to get my guts and discipline from her,” she says. Theirs was a rare relationship, especially because they had the unique chance to work together for a long time. Cris’s greatest ally was also her greatest critic: “She would focus on my weaknesses and highlight my strengths—and that’s what pushed me to become the kind of performer I am today.”
Earlier this year, on February 11, 2019, Siguion-Reyna succumbed to cancer. Her granddaughter dutifully continues her legacy onstage thanks to her grandmother's "tough love." She fondly recalls their time spent at the recording studio. “That was where she taught me how to sing, how to react to certain songs and musical words, how to be able to express myself,” she says. Cris also owes her clear Filipino diction to her grandmother, who advised her to read the tabloids out loud as practice.