Sarah Geronimo Image Credit: Supplied

Filipino pop star Sarah Geronimo is no longer the “princess” fans once knew; she’s now ascended to the title of “Queen of Pop”, as well as being one of the most successful actresses of her generation.

The wait to see her Perfect 10 tour finally ends for Dubai fans on December 1 at Hall 7 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, eight months after wowing thousands of her fans at Abu Dhabi’s du Forum. Geronimo will be joined by Filipino musicians Ronnie Liang, Top Suzara of Freestyle and the G-Force dancers.

The concert tour is an extended celebration of Geronimo’s decade-long career in the entertainment industry.

“Dubai is one of the places that I really looked forward to every time I have a concert in the Middle East,” Geronimo excitedly told tabloid! in a recent phone interview. “Actually, I always looked forward to all of my shows abroad — performing with the Filipinos in other countries is really exciting. They really enjoy the moment. It’s great feeling to hear their applause.”

Geronimo says she is also excited to perform songs from her new album for the first time in Dubai. “The Perfect 10 concert that I’ll be performing in Dubai does not really have a big difference or changes with the Perfect 10 concert I did in Abu Dhabi last April, but it will have a different line-up of guests,” she says. “Of course, I’ll share songs from my latest album, Perfectly Imperfect, with the carrier single Kilometro. So we are very excited to share the album [with] the Dubai fans.”

To be exact, Geronimo has been in the industry for 11 years and her journey from girl-next-door to one of the most recognisable personalities in the country is one that is full of interesting subplots. In this exclusive interview with tabloid!, Geronimo looks back to her humble beginnings and talks about her plans for the future.

“Just like the title of my recent album, Perfectly Imperfect, I can say that my ten years in showbiz were made perfect because of all the imperfections in my life, in my career, in all aspects of my life. Everything happens for a reason — all the ups and downs became a part of how I’m moulded to become a better person now. The learning will continue — the trials and the challenges.”

Born Sarah Asher Tuazon Geronimo on July 25, 1988, Geronimo lived the life of a middle-class girl in Quezon City. Her father, Delfin Geronimo, is a retired private sector employee and the brother of TV host Gerry Geronimo, while her mother Divina used to run a beauty salon in Manila. She is the third of four children — Jonnah Rizzie, Sunshine Grace and Ezekiel Gabriel.

Geronimo’s rise to stardom is much like other singers or artists who first tried their luck in singing contests and reality shows to fulfil their dreams. Little did she know that her forays in singing competitions in 2003 would eventually lead her to become the complete package that she is now — a singer, performer, actress, dancer and even a singing coach.

The 26-year-old singer first appeared on TV in a mall show when she was just two years old. At three, she became part of the RPN Network’s children’s show Penpen de Sarapen until she was six. She also performed in popular shows such as For Kids Only, Hiraya Manawari, Ang TV (1995-1996), and NEXT (1996-1997). She was chosen to sing during the visit of the late Pope John Paul II to the Philippines in 1995.

With her talent and potential, her father enrolled her at the Centre for Pop Music Philippines when she was eight, her first formal music and voice lessons.

But Geronimo’s star began to shine at age 14 when she won the singing contest Star for a Night in 2003, hosted by Filipino star Regine Velasquez. It earned her a ten-year recording contract with Viva Records, which released her debut album Popstar: A Dream Come True in September 2003. The album went platinum seven times. She also staged her first solo concert at the Music Museum in the same year. From then on, her singing career kept soaring and she won numerous local and international awards along the way.

Aside from being a multi-award-winning singer, Geronimo is also one of the coaches of The Voice of The Philippines and The Voice Kids Philippines. Geronimo’s protege Lyca Gairanod was crowned champion in the first season of The Voice Kids Philippines in July.

“I don’t want to pressure myself,” she says of the huge expectations of her followers for her team to produce the next winner of The Voice. “What is important to me is what the artists in Team Sarah can offer. What can we share and learn as talents and coaches. Of course, as a coach it’s our goal to produce a winner, because that is what The Voice is all about.”

She adds: “People can also expect a battle among the coaches. Pressure will always be there among my fellow coaches — Ms Lea Salonga, Bamboo and apl.de.ap. — and I think it’s good because it pushes me to give my best.”

Geronimo’s latest achievement brings her to the international stage after Disney recently picked her to do an adaptation of the theme song of its Disney Princess franchise. A teaser aired on the Disney Channel features Geronimo announcing her own version of The Glow, whose music video will premiere on December 6. The song was originally performed by English singer Shannon Saunders and debuted in 2011 to coincide with the induction of the character Rapunzel, from the 2010 animated film Tangled, as an official Disney Princess.

When asked what other milestones she is looking to achieve, Geronimo says it is a dream to stage a concert featuring only her original songs.

“As an OPM [Original Pinoy Music] artist, I want to have more original songs that I can share with the people and that will really leave a mark in their hearts.”

Geronimo is also well known as a television and movie artist. Her popularity surged to dizzying heights in 2004 when she signed an exclusive contract with ABS-CBN, where she starred in several of the TV network’s programmes, including her own Sarah: The Teen Princess and the popular daytime musical variety show ASAP.

Geronimo’s millions of fans are eager to see her on TV again, especially in soap operas, but she says her busy schedule makes it difficult to do other projects apart from The Voice.

“When doing a teleserye [soap opera], you can’t avoid working longer hours every day,” she says. “I don’t want to compromise my voice because I’ve already encountered that problem in the past.”

Geronimo’s last television soap opera was Pangarap na Bituin in 2007.

From the television screen to the silver screen, Geronimo also proved she can hit it big in the box office. Her first movie was Filipinas in 2003 where she co-starred with Maricel Soriano. From then on, she worked on other projects with top-calibre actors such as Judy Anne Santos and Coco Martin. But her biggest break was when she was paired opposite award-winning actor John Lloyd Cruz in A Very Special Love in 2008. It was Geronimo’s first leading role in a movie, playing the now-famous character Laida Magtalas. Her on-screen chemistry with Cruz made a blockbuster — it was the highest-grossing Filipino film of 2008.

With the great success of the movie, Geronimo and Cruz did two more movies — Won’t Last A Day Without You in 2011 and last year’s box-office success It Takes A Man and A Woman.

Her next movie project teams her with another award-winning actor, Piolo Pascual, in a Valentine feature next year. “I’m excited for this movie,” she confides. “The concept of the film is still under process. With Mr Piolo Pascual, the movie should have a very special story. People should have a special experience when they watch the movie.”

Although she has worked with many big-name actors in the movie industry, Geronimo says there are other film royals that she dreams of working with. “If given a chance, I want to work with Ms Nora Aunora, Sharon Cuneta and Vilma Sanrtos,” she says.

Aside from her achievements in showbiz, Geronimo has also been a recipient of several civic awards from the government and other institutions in recognition of her efforts to set a good example for young Filipinos. But amid her soaring popularity, Geronimo claims her family has always been her biggest inspiration.

“Our family is our life,” she says. “One of the reasons why I entered the entertainment business is for my family — to help them. Whatever is my dream in life, I share it with my family.”

Despite her busy schedule, Geronimo says she still finds time to enjoy private moments alone and with her loved ones, including her dogs.

“I’m really a home body,” she says. “If I don’t have work, I love to just stay at home. I just want to be with my family and bond with them. Also, I really love dogs, so I always have time with my dogs. Sometimes, in the evening I will go out with my family to watch a movie and have dinner.”

Dealing with critics has been one of the biggest challenges of many showbiz personalities and Geronimo has a lot of her own critics to deal with, some even targeting her family. The actress says she prefers to remain positive and take such things in her stride.

“I always feel happy and thankful every time people will say that I’m doing great, but for me, it shouldn’t stop your willingness to improve and learn. You should always have something new and fresh to offer to the people,” she says. “Never, never allow the compliments go to your head. Sir Gary V. [Valenciano] told me that each time you are on stage, each time you are given the opportunity to perform, you should sing or perform not because you just want to prove that you are great, but you should sing or perform from your heart. You are expressing the message of the song.”