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Metro At 30: Charlene Gonzalez-Muhlach Talks About Self-Love, Aging, And Sending Her Kids Off To College

We caught up with this wife and mom, who shared her thoughts on aging gracefully and living in the present while excitedly looking forward to what the future holds

As we celebrate Metro magazine’s 30th anniversary, we are putting the spotlight once again on 30 of our past cover girlswomen who have continued to inspire others throughout the years. Some of them may have shifted gears and opted to stay away from the showbiz limelight to focus on their families or personal passions, but this fact remains: once a Metro woman, always a Metro woman. 

Metro began as a publication that catered to young professionals, including men, having a sense of style has always been a part of its core. As Metro became more female-centric, it evolved into one that was “devoted to a style of living, which goes beyond trends or fads,” as former editor-in-chief Thelma San Juan once put it. This is where the oft-mentioned phrase “women of style and substance” now holds true for everyone who graces the magazine’s covers.



It’s A Homecoming! The Metro Cover Girls Return

Former beauty queen and actress Charlene Gonzalez-Muhlach was featured on the cover of Metro twice: one back in August 1998 when she was hosting TV show Keep on Dancing and one back in November 2015 alongside Charo Santos-Concio, Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, Anne Curtis, Bea Alonzo, and Dawn Zulueta-Lagdameo.    

“The fact that you’re able to be a part of Metro magazine—one of the institutional magazines in the Philippines that has been around for thirty years—is such an honor. How many magazines can actually say they’ve been around for thirty years?” she tells Metro.Style. “It’s like coming full circle… The beauty of my personal journey with Metro is that I saw it from when I was 19 years old, and then in my 20s and 30s. To be able to still be a part of it today is truly memorable and special.”

The actress has been a showbiz personality for around 25 years, and she’s simply grateful for it all. How did she last in a job that demanded so much of her time and privacy? It’s about taking it one step at a time, she reveals. “When people ask, ‘Do you ever plan your career?’ No, I’ve never been the type. I think what really matters is you love what you’re doing and you just take it day by day.”

Now that she’s less visible in showbiz-related matters, letting her family become her top priority, she looks back at her time in the limelight sans any regrets but rather, with a sense of pride in having been a part of a cutthroat industry that has pushed her to be a better woman.

Showbiz has been a rollercoaster ride, admits Charlene, but she would not have it any other way. “I look at challenges in a different way because I always feel that when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing,” she says, following this realization with a sensible lesson to keep in mind. “Sometimes, for me, I feel that moments of being uncomfortable are healthy so I like that because it helps motivate me; it helps me evolve and improve as a person in all aspects. We really shouldn’t look at challenges as something bad but something good. It’s a door for you to have the opportunity to improve and just take a step forward. The best time to grow is when you’re uncomfortable, so I look forward to challenges.”

The beauty of my personal journey with Metro is that I saw it from when I was 19 years old, and then in my 20s and 30s. To be able to still be a part of it today is truly memorable and special

Charlene Gonzalez-Muhlach on the cover of Metro's August 1998 issue. That year, she was the host of TV show "Eezy Dancing."
Charlene Gonzalez-Muhlach shared the cover with fellow showbiz icons Charo Santos-Concio, Dawn Zulueta-Lagdameo, Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, Bea Alonzo, and Anne Curtis for the magazine's November 2015 issue.
On Charlene: Blazer and trousers by Zara and heels by Christian Louboutin | Photo by Dookie Ducay

On aging gracefully

The boldness and fearlessness this 45-year-old woman now embodies came with a process. “When I was 25, although I would like to believe I was strong, there were moments of course when you’re younger, you have fear to do things,” Charlene confesses. However, it’s something that she has eventually learned to enjoy. “As you age, you really have this inner wisdom and confidence knowing that you can just really be you. You could really be you, you’re not afraid to make mistakes. It comes with experience, it comes with the ups and downs in life, but that’s what I enjoy about the present and the now.”

With such thinking, our Miss Universe Philippines 1994 stresses that she is beyond ready to face anything, including aging. “I embrace it and for me, it’s going to happen to all of us. It’s inevitable. It’s just the way you face it and the way you look at it. I’m not afraid of it at all.”

Where does she get her strength and confidence from? She has women like ABS-CBN executive Charo Santos-Concio and seasoned artist Lea Salonga whom she considers her role models. “Tita Charo Santos has this certain elegance, class, intelligence, and grace that she emulates and I admire her about that,” she shares. “Another person, I would say, who is a dear friend, is Lea Salonga. Her talent is absolutely mind-blowing. But the true beauty of Lea is her personality, her simplicity that despite all her accolades and international achievements, when you talk to her, she’s very, very simple and very grounded as a person.”

As you age, you really have this inner wisdom and confidence knowing that you can just really be you

Self-love, she later adds, is extremely important. “It’s really the way you take care of yourself. It’s really the way you think, the way you protect your thoughts, and really just facing each second with love and happiness because it’s really a choice,” she declares. “I find it beautiful knowing that each moment, we have the opportunity to choose to be happy. Even if we don’t feel it, but the fact that we have the opportunity to say ‘Hey, even if I’m having a bad day, I’m going to make it a great day.’”

Apart from eating healthy and taking care of her skin, she also finds joy in reading books. “I’m a pre-med student so the student in me will never be lost,” she shares. “I feel like when I have books, when I’m reading something, I learn something new.”

Charlene spends that much-needed me-time by breaking a sweat. “I love to exercise. I love sports. I feel like that is something where I can find inner peace. I play badminton, I play basketball, I run, I just finished the London marathon in April. I exercise and then I do the things I need to do.”

I find it beautiful knowing that each moment, we have the opportunity to choose to be happy

On “living in the present”

A day in her busy life now includes overseeing a house she’s building with her husband Aga Muhlach. “I’ve just been really passionate about that because I think that’s the artist in me. It’s really something that I try to find in anything, creatively. I always like different things but right now, that’s my passion,” she reveals. “We’re fixing and building our house, we’re almost done. We’re most likely finishing up in December and since it’s the kids’ last year, they’re incoming seniors in high school and then they’re off to college next year, there’s a lot to handle.”

Charlene opened up about sending off their kids Atasha and Andres to college, saying the fact that they’re twins makes it even more difficult for her. “They’re leaving at the same time. Usually, diba ‘yung iba, parang one at a time? Si kuya muna tapos si ate susunod? Pero ito, sabay.”

It may be hard, but she makes sure she doesn’t end up overwhelmed. In fact, she and Aga have decided to slow things down this year so they could spend quality time with their children. “Even if we had plans of doing things later in the year and earlier next year, we kind of limited it because we only have one year left for the kids before they go to college,” she continues. “One thing at a time—that’s just the basic principle that I live by. Live in the present, aspire and set goals for the future, and learn from your past.”

Charlene feels her future will be just the same, filled with surprises in between, and that’s the thing that excites her most. “I really enjoy every moment and I just live life to the fullest. I don’t have any regrets for my actions. I own up to my actions whether they’re right or wrong, but I guess that with age, you realize that each moment comes and it’s really up to you to make the most of it.”

Live in the present, aspire and set goals for the future, and learn from your past

Produced by Kat Cruz-Villanueva, Ceia Ylagan, and Judy Arias

Photography by Dookie Ducay

Video by Chapters by Mayad

Art direction by Raff Colmenar

Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra, Grace Libero-Cruz, and Kate Paras-Santiago 

Production design by Kathy Sy King of Event Styles

Makeup by Ting Duque

Hairstyling by Anton Papa

Styling by Pam Quiñones, Maita Baello, Melville Sy, Alex Castillo, and Mac Intia of Qurator Studio

Styling Assistants: Bea Irasusta and Claire Fernando

Shot on location at City of Dreams Manila

Special thanks to C&L Decor, Shop Rent Gala, 4th Wall, and 18th Floristry; Charisse Chuidian and Romina Gervacio of City of Dreams Manila