The Cai Cortez we now see on television, recently on film via #Jowable, and even online (on her IG bio: "Naniniwala sa kasabihang: walang himala. Dahil pwede rin maging sexy ang mataba!") has had the same funny, bubbly disposition ever since she was a kid. “I was very outgoing. I always had different groups, never ako nagkaroon ng isang group lang. Palagi akong palipat-lipat. Iwan mo ako sa isang lugar, madali lang akong makipag-friend sa kahit sino,” the daughter of veteran actor Rez Cortez tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle.
Cai didn’t encounter bullies growing up, but she had her fair share of experiences on that when she stepped into the ‘biz. “Of course, when you’re in the limelight, especially sa isang business na cookie cutter ang beauty and yung standards ng mga tao is, lalo na Pinoy—dapat petite, maputi, you know? The usual. Dun ko lang narinig yung mga ganung panlalait and mga pangkukutsa,” the actress opens up. Where she got her self-assurance early on? "I’m very lucky kasi growing up, parang I had a very stable upbringing so buo ako to just let it slide down my back.”
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The tremendous amount of confidence Cai now embodies started right at home. “Hindi ako masyadong nagpapaapekto because I know in my heart that I’m beautiful. I know that I’m pretty and nakita ko din sa mom ko ‘yan na it didn’t really matter if she was big, basta her husband loved her, her kids loved her, and she was happy,” Cai continues. “So ganun din ang tingin ko—as long as you’re happy with yourself, doesn’t matter how big you are or whatever size you’re wearing, basta you’re radiating beauty and self-contentment then you’re good. I had a lot of family members who are big, confident, beautiful women so I think I took off from them."
Cai especially looks up to her mom as her "role model." She remembers witnessing her mom being called names, too, only to find the latter showing strength and positivity despite the hate instead. “Of course, if you see someone that you love being bullied, ang sakit nun,” Cai, who's now a mom as well, recalls. “Pero ang nakakatawa, mas nagagalit pa ako kaysa sa kanya. Parang ako, gusto ko awayin yung nagsabi nun sa kanya or nang-offend sa kanya. Gusto kong sugurin, gusto kong awayin then she’d be like, ‘Hayaan mo na. It doesn’t matter. Maganda ako.’ Ganun sya!”
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It must also be Rez' love for her mom, Cai muses, on what inspired her on her trip to self-love. “Nakikita ko rin talaga na my dad loves her (mom) so nanggigil sya sa mom ko, sa katawan nya, ganyan, so na-inspire din ako to find someone that loves big women,” Cai shares. “Ba’t mo pipilitin sarili mo sa mga lalaki na hindi naman mahilig sa type mo? Katulad yung asawa ko, sabi nya, ‘I’m not a dog! I don’t eat bones.’ Gusto daw nya ng malaman and fatty! So yeah, he’s happy.”
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Produced by Camille Santiago | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Video by Lui Jimenez and Kang Garcia | Makeup by Chuchie Ledesma | Hair by Sam Corbillon of Triple Luck Brow & Nail Salon | Styling by Aldrin Ramos | Shot on location at Privato Hotel Quezon City | Special thanks to Pinoy Big Brother, Gabriel Perez, and Katrina Luz-Lincuna