It's probably impossible to talk about actress Katrina Halili without remembering the controversial video that catapulted her to infamy.
In 2009, a video featuring the actress and disgraced celebrity doctor Hayden Kho, who secretly filmed their intimate encounter, went viral on the internet, causing a public relations nightmare that shattered Halili's career and cost the doctor his license. Now, more than two years later, Halili has pulled through and is determined to get her life and career back on track.
But it seems certain wounds take time to heal.
"I"m fine, really," Halili said, wiping off tears, an embarrassed smile on her face. "I'm such a crybaby," she added on her first public appearance in Dubai on Thursday ahead of her debut gig in the emirate over the weekend.
The question that caused the reaction was, of course, on how she survived it all. "We come across trials in our lives. They make us stronger. We just need to forget our ego, accept the mistake and the ridicules and move on," she said.
And moved on, she has. The actress' career has taken on a different trajectory that saw her star in the primetime show Munting Heredera (The Little Heiress). She is also busy with international shows, and will be filming a new soap, Sundo, with Dingdong Dantes.
"I'm okay now. Looking back, that ordeal was like the start of my life. I know myself better now," she told tabloid!
"Before, I thought I always needed to have a boyfriend or a crush to inspire me, but now I realised I don't need all that."
So is she not opening her doors to new suitors? "I'm busy with friends and my career is my priority right now," came her quick reply, "I'm just inspired to be alive."
On suggestions that she could become an advocate for harassed women, particularly in the Middle East, the new Halili is introspective. "Sometimes I think it may be the reason why I was sent here. To give hope to people. To remind them that we can learn from our experiences."
She's interested in scoring more quality me-time, she said: "I have just built a spa in my house. It's where I unwind."
Looking to the stars
Halili is also transfixed on reading about the secrets of the stars. "Astrology is engrossing to learn. Looking at my star sign has helped me know more about myself and analyse where my influences are coming from."
If she's not reading about it in books, she's browsing through the apps on her iPad, which she carried with her throughout the interview. "What's your zodiac sign?" she asked this reporter, flipping through an application that she said could give me an overview of my personality. Cancer, I tell her. "Romantic, sensitive, and nurturing," she assessed.
The conversation moves on to her zodiac sign. "Capricorn is my sun sign, but my moon sign is Libra, which has a bigger influence on my character," she explained. So, how would she describe a Libra in three words? "Balanced, loves beauty and art, dislikes discord."
Speaking of art, the gig in Dubai would be the first time she's ever picked up a microphone in public, she admits. "But I'll sing if my fans want me to."
With her life back on track, how does she plan on shaping her life and career further? "I'd rather just go with the flow."
- Favourite song that you can sing at karaoke: Heal the World.
- Three gadgets you can't live without: iPad, laptop, mobile phone.
- What's on your iPad? Apps on beauty regimen and astrology.
- Last movie you saw: It's been a while. Pearl Harbour.
- Favourite destination: Palawan, my hometown. Especially El Nido. It's paradise.