It’s amazing how life gives us opportunities to meet people who turn out to be absolutely remarkable.
A few years ago, I was contacted to appear in a TV series as the mom of one of the lead actors. I didn’t know who he was, but it was work, so I accepted. I went to the location and I was led to a large waiting room, where I was to have my makeup and hair done for my scene with him.
No one conversed with me, except for the makeup artist, who mentioned that he knew I was a model and beauty queen, and that was it. I chose to settle myself in a nearby area to do some writing.
After a few more hours, a tall and handsome young man entered the room. He wore a black suit, which made him more attractive, towering over the other people in the room. I noticed he had a contagious smile that lit up everyone’s faces as he walked past them. After observing all that, I went back to my writing. After a while, he approached me.
“Hello, tita,” he said with a big smile. He pulled a chair and positioned himself across me. “I heard you’ll be playing my mom. I am Xian Lim.”
I was taken a bit by surprise, because he was very pleasant and never took that wonderful smile off his face. He made me feel comfortable by staying and talking with me, telling me how he felt when he found out I was going to play his mother in the series, and how challenging the role was because there were parts where they had to speak Chinese.
I mentioned that the one playing his father, Ricardo Cepeda, was a good friend of mine. Our conversation ended only because he had to go and do another sequence.
Even with the challenges of taping for very long, ungodly hours and providing my own wardrobe, I truly enjoyed working with Xian. Ricardo, he and I had very long conversations about life and the profession.
It was then that we got to know so much about this fellow, whose hard work, persistence, and dedication to his job were all geared toward making a better life for himself and his mom.
We even acknowledged the fact that our mother-son team in the series was very similar to our real life mother-son relationships—and that, I suppose, was the reason why they say we had good chemistry on camera.
Memorable for me, too, was meeting Xian’s mom, Mary Ann Cruz-Lim, whose spirited charm and angelic face would light up any room. We met again recently, at Xian’s birthday and blessing of their new house. Mary Ann excitedly rushed to meet us when Ricardo and I arrived, and showed us in as we stared in awe at the beautiful house, which had light and space as the main focus.
Upon reaching the receiving area, I exclaimed, “I can clearly see Xian’s personality around here!” We laughed, and she said yes, Xian was hands-on in deciding the look and feel of the house, the interiors, furniture and garden layout. The pure white walls with wood finishing highlighted some exquisite taxidermy pieces, bronze figurines and Edwardian-style paintings brought home from his travels. They also had a white baby grand piano, which reminded me of how appreciative he is of music and the arts.
Mary Ann shyly explained that Xian had worked so hard for all this to happen. He is rather thrifty, but that’s just because he was really saving what he earned to make his dream home a reality. And with a smile, I added, “And he did it all for you, too. Congratulations for bringing up Xian the way you did. He is admirable, and so are you.”
Now I really know where her son got his looks and outlook in life. This lovely woman has such a happy and positive disposition, it’s infectious. Ricardo and I left the party in awe of this mother-son relationship, full of hopes for their continuous blessings.
I have known Xian Lim for three years, and have become aware of not-so-nice stories circulating about him. I also had not been spared from people asking me whether or not these stories are true. Some of them even bet their lives on it!
Through all these, I have always told them how kind-hearted, hardworking and admirable Xian is. I believe in him, and that is what counts for me. And for those who stuck to their guns about him, I always asked, “Have you met him already?” Their answer would always be, “No.” Then I would just tell them, “Maybe you should, and especially his mom. Then you’d know what I’m talking about.” Meeting his charming and gracious grandmother at the party, further solidified how commendable he is.
Mary Ann nurtured Xian in an environment of love and righteousness, as only a strong-willed and responsible parent will do. Respect for women, kindness of the heart, gratitude for love shown, openness of the mind, and success through hard work were all part of Xian’s upbringing. And he took these principles to heart, amid the tough, competitive and unpredictable industry of show business.
I wouldn’t want this to turn into a fan story, but spending time with Xian and Mary Ann, was truly remarkable. I hope I won’t be judged for saying all this, but then again, some will.
It has always been part of the Filipino culture to idolize and criticize celebrities. This could be attributed to public exposure, and how media portrays them. But I hope we don’t stereotype when it comes to behavior, attitude and professionalism.
Experiencing their environment made me realize they, too, are individuals who have their own pasts, dreams, challenges, qualities and fears.
Show business can be harsh. You could be famous for a while, then simply forgotten when the next big star comes along. Celebrities like Xian do more than their best to make their fans happy as a show of appreciation for their support, but surely they yearn for quality time for themselves and their loved ones.
So if he or any other hardworking and well-meaning celebrity’s behavior is misinterpreted as negative, then it just goes to show how much alike we all are.