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Gabbi Garcia Continues to Shine Bright

Encantadia was only the beginning for this star on the rise.
Gabbi Garcia Continues to Shine Bright
IMAGE Erwin Canlas
Encantadia was only the beginning for this star on the rise.

What did we tell you? Gabbi Garcia is the name you ought to remember.

Today, she is more popularly known as the actress who portrayed one of the four sang'gres in GMA’s Encantadia 2016 reboot, a dream role which she considers as one of the two biggest breaks she’s had in her now-blossoming career. “To be one of the sang’gres—I’m the youngest kasi among all four—it’s so much pressure, but it all paid off. Iba kasi ‘yung naging boost sa career ko because of [Encantadia],” Gabbi explains; the other one, she tells us, is her international shampoo commercial with Pantene, which is yet again another project that a million girls would kill for.

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Mae-Ann Veloso white button-down, P3000; skirt with suspenders P5500, tomfoolery.ph; Forever 21 ribbon choker, P330; silver thin choker, P330; SM Aura; Charles & Keith slip-on loafers, P2699, SM Aura

It’s practically a no-brainer as to why her legions of fans adore her, though. During our shoot with Gabbi, the 18-year-old morena beauty was a ray of sunshine: she was constantly smiling, not a minute late, and a breeze to work with. We shot a three-look editorial shortly followed by two videos, but in the entirety of it, she remained professional with a candid cheerfulness that did not wane until the very last frame. “Sobrang bibo kid ako,” she tells us of her childhood in an exclusive interview with Preview. “Whenever there are family reunions, I’m always the one singing, hosting, or dancing.”

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Looking at Gabbi, it’s impossible not to see that she was born to become a star. She’s not the conventional pretty face and yet she is without a sliver of doubt beautiful in her own way—what with those almond eyes, svelte figure, and golden, sun-kissed glow. We find it quite hard to believe that not so long ago this then-aspiring actress could hardly even book a commercial. “Out of the 50 VTRs I went to, I only got three or four commercials,” Gabbi tells us matter-of-factly. “Hindi ako swerte sa mga VTRs for commercials. Lagi akong eto na shortlist na, malapit na, callback na, tapos dalawa na lang kami, [but in the end] hindi pa ako ‘yung mapipili. It’s always like that before.”

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Mae-Ann Veloso white top with pleated sleeves, P2750; vest, P9000; pleated skirt, P7500, tomfoolery.ph; Forever 21 silver hoop earrings, P330, SM Aura; Charles & Keith loafers, P2399, SM Aura

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Looking back, Gabbi even remembers seeing her fellow talent search contestants and VTR applicants on television. She remembers feeling a tad bit jealous and somewhat left out. “Parang ako, ano ba ‘yan, lahat sila nandun na. Ako na lang ‘yung wala. Ako na lang ‘yung hindi pa nakakapag-try mag guesting, or mag TV, or mag-sign sa kahit saang network,” she recalls, also noting that hers is a dream she wasn’t at all sure was possible but continued to pursue nonetheless. Despite the hiccups, she relentlessly joined numerous singing contests and talent searches. As Gabbi herself puts it, she’s a fighter who doesn’t easily give up—“My mom and my dad kept on telling me, ‘Gab, we can see you have a spot in the industry so you have to work hard for it,’ so I never stopped working hard.”

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Fast forward to today, Gabbi Garcia is now a name one can so easily look up online. With almost one and a half million followers on Instagram, she’s a face that people will most likely recognize as soon as she walks down the street. It only took her a split second to answer when we asked if she still remembers the first time someone asked to take a picture with her: “I was in my first serye, and when I went out may nagpa-picture na. It surprised me—‘oh shucks, kilala pala nila ko.’ It still flatters me and it’s still so surreal. Parang nakakapanibago pa din.”

Being a celebrity, however, is not at all a bed of roses. She was no longer the ordinary girl who can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. A typical working day for Gabbi would entail waking up at half past four o'clock in the morning, leaving the house at six, and making sure she makes it on time for her taping. “Sometimes my call time at taping is 8AM. I never want to be late for any of my commitments. I do my hair and makeup, review the script, read the lines,” she explains. And depending on how many scenes she needs to shoot during the day, she’s lucky to be home by dinnertime, albeit she normally finishes the next day.

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

She misses going to school, too, and having the liberty to hang out with her friends all day. But perhaps the worst part about being an “artista” is the fact that even a teenage girl such as Gabbi is not exempt from public scrutiny. “Nung una nga ako nagka-basher, na-amaze pa ko. Wow, may nagba-bash na sa ‘kin,” she quips with a laugh. “Nung naging madalas na, of course I get hurt. I’m also a person eh. It affected me [especially] when I was younger, like 15 or 16. But throughout the years, I learned how to manage my emotions and how to deal with only the truth, like how to assure myself and how to get support from the people who are important to me and [listen only to] the opinions that matter.”

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IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Mae-Ann Veloso white button-down, P3000; bralette, P1250; trousers, P3500, tomfoolery.ph; Forever 21 gold bar necklace, P330, SM Aura; Charles & Keith pointy-toed flats, P2699, SM Aura

Amidst the sea of stars who are all beautiful, talented, and hardworking in their own right, Gabbi continues to shine through with her refreshing candor and authenticity. “It’s not about how ‘sikat’ you are,” says the 18-year-old actress. “The best part about my job is that it’s not a job for me. It doesn’t feel like work because I’m only doing what I love.”

And in that exact moment, it was as if all the pieces of the puzzle finally came together. We’re seeing Gabbi Garcia in a different light—and we’re telling you, this girl’s future is so bright it practically blinds us.

IMAGE Erwin Canlas

Photographed by Erwin Canlas

Styled and Produced by Marj Ramos

Co-produced by Yanna Lopez

Makeup by Jason Delos Reyes of NARS Cosmetics

Hair by Mark Anthony Rosales

Nails by Nailandia

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