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Cristine Reyes Is Back, and She's Not the Same Person We All Once Knew

Far from the sexy screen siren we once saw her as, Cristine Reyes is back in the limelight like we've never seen her before.

by Sam Beltran | May 10, 2019

With a Netflix movie and an upcoming suspense thriller film slated for release, the future looks bright for Cristine Reyes’ much-awaited comeback.

Cristine Reyes is not what I expected. Devoid of the usual flock of people celebrities would usually have tagging along as part of their entourage, the actress sauntered in the studio, makeup-free, clad in a loose T-shirt and sneakers. Her most striking feature being her red-dyed pixie cut.

The dramatic hair change, Cristine reveals, is for a new film she’s shooting called Untrue—helmed by director Sigrid Bernardo of Kita Kita—alongside Xian Lim. Don’t mistake it for yet another quirky rom-com, though; it’s a suspense-thriller drama partly set in the capital of Tbilisi, Georgia in eastern Europe. Untrue is a dream movie, the actress tells Preview, and is one of the first on the list of projects she’s set to do after a three-year hiatus.


Cristine Reyes for May 2019

When asked about her neon red hair, Cristine quips, “You know what? Sabi ko sa director ko, alam mo, lahat ng tao tinatanong kung may pinagdadaanan ba ako,” laughing at the memory as she flaunts her shaved sides. “This is my shortest haircut, ever. But I used to color and cut my hair really short, so I was game naman.”

There’s a laid-back vibe about the actress, the kind of chill, no-frills attitude where she’s just cool to kick it. It’s a far cry from the image of her younger days, a sultry ingenue and one of the Philippines’ most bankable primetime stars, perpetually glammed up in a flirty dress and a pair of heels. Back then, when she was not playing dramatic lead roles, she was topping sexiest woman charts, feats that were clearly well-deserved as the actress is undoubtedly one of the country’s most attractive celebrities. But in today’s Preview cover shoot, swathed in this season's trendiest tie-dye prints, Cristine brought a different level of sexiness, one that was rooted in confidence and maturity. Now 30, this is a woman who’s grown and been through life over the years. And as she dives back into show business full time, make no mistake—Cristine Reyes is no longer the girl you once knew.

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Cristine Reyes for May 2019

On Making Life-Changing Decisions

With Untrue and her current noontime teleserye, Nang Ngumiti ang Langit, Cristine considers her upcoming projects as sort of a comeback. "I did lie low for some time," she admits, acknowledging her three-year hiatus since she gave birth to her daughter, Amarah Khatibi. “Since I gave birth, I really chose to take care of Amarah. Nag-lie low ako and experienced life, [and] I had a lot of realizations then.”


Turtleneck, P1500, TIE

Cristine just turned 30 this year but she refers to her personal struggles as a “mid-life crisis,” on account of having to grow up so fast from an early age. “Feeling ko kasi nag-start ako nang maaga with life, so feeling ko everything was fast forward agad,” the actress explains. Cristine admits to feeling burned out in her career before the hiatus, having worked endlessly since the age of 14 when she started out in 2003 on the GMA-7 reality show Starstruck. “I was the youngest in my batch on Starstruck, so since then, I have been working non-stop.”


“[I reached a point where] I really said na parang, wala na akong mabigay sa industry. Parang feeling ko, I was done.”

Cropped top, P795, BERSHKA, Glorietta 2

The actress got her big break when she moved to ABS-CBN, her home network for over 10 years now, and she landed her first breakout leading role on the show Eva Fonda. Since then, the string of films and television shows had not stopped pouring in, which eventually took a toll on the actress.


Yung non-stop working kasi at a very young age, you would really feel lost—tapos show business pa,” the actress recalls. “[I reached a point where] I really said na parang, wala na akong mabigay sa industry. Parang feeling ko, I was done.”

Pants, P2100, TIE


Add the fact that Cristine had a self-imposed timeline of wanting to settle down at the age of 25. “I told myself, at the age of 25, I should be settling down. So nagkaroon ako ng mid-life crisis din, and at the same time I was struggling with a lot of things. I didn’t know why I was working.” The actress also adds that she felt that she thought having a family would fill the void she felt. “It just came to a point [that I wanted] some purpose sa life or meaning, and feeling ko the only way to have that is to have my own family, and most especially a child.” So, off she married and became a mother, and then she decided to take a break from her career.

When asked whether she knew that her hiatus was only temporary and that she would come back eventually, Cristine admitted that she was ready to leave the limelight at that point, had things gone her way. “I was really ready to let [show biz] go. ‘Cause I felt na parang, this is what I want, I want to have my own family. I want to have my own private life.” But life doesn’t work out the way you want to sometimes, another fact that the actress learned firsthand. Although she didn't directly confirm her rumored separation with husband Ali Khatibi, Cristine explains, “I [told myself] na if it went well, I would be happy staying there out of the limelight [with] my own family. But things didn’t go my way."


She adds, "So I’m grateful that I’m back. I’m grateful that I have a lot of very good projects. Maybe I was in a hurry. Now that I’m 30, I realized that I can’t really push the things that I want to do [if it's] not the right time.”


Jacket, TIE Purple Sunnies, P330, FOREVER 21, SM Makati

On Transforming Her Career

Now, Cristine is enjoying this new lease on her career, with many exciting prospects—her recent film, Maria, in which she plays a former cartel assassin, was just picked up for distribution by Netflix and will start streaming on the website on May 17. It's her first action film, a fitting project as the actress got to show a different side to her and tap into her martial arts background. She had to undergo a rigorous preparation for the role, doing 90 percent of her stunts. It’s hard work that paid off, though, with her performance receiving rave reviews from critics.


Pants, P2100, TIE

And then there’s Untrue, which Cristine still remains tight-lipped about but swears it’s a film to watch out for. Careful not to give other details away, the actress did reveal that Untrue is the kind of film that’s gunning for a film festival screening abroad, a feat that would be a feather on Cristine’s cap. “Untrue was like, whoa, this is something I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been craving that kind of project.” It’s no wonder, then, that she was willing to undergo a dramatic transformation for the character. “That’s why I was game to color my hair red. [The director] showed me the color grading of the film, which is bluish, so ‘yung red, pagdating sa film, it’s kind of maroon-ish na,” she explains. “Sigrid wanted something new, and I wanted something new rin for myself, career-wise.”


Pink buttondown, P2295, ZARA, Rockwell Powerplant. Green cat-eye sunnies, P450, FOREVER 21, SM Makati

Maybe it comes with age, but Cristine seems to be effortlessly shedding off the sexy-drama roles she was known for in the past. Her iconic role as legal wife Charmaine alongside Derek Ramsey and Anne Curtis in the 2010 movie No Other Woman—which is also streaming on Netflixcomes to mind, as well as Tubig at Langis, her last soap in 2016, where she played a classic Filipino protagonist, a leading lady bogged down by the most unfortunate circumstances. Nowadays, she’s more femme fatale than damsel in distress.


When we asked whether this means she won’t do sexy roles anymore, the actress acknowledged that she would want to take on more challenging and unique characters now that she is older. However, this was not an issue she would want to force. “I think hindi ko siya maiwasan talaga, so I don’t want to dictate it na lang,” Cristine notes.

Nowadays, she’s more femme fatale than damsel in distress.


Turtleneck, P1500, TIE

Still, Cristine considers herself lucky, having received an immediate line-up of films and shows after deciding to return to show biz. “I’m grateful because for others, it’s so hard for them to get a project [after they leave]. I’m one of the lucky ones na even though ikaw yung minsan nag-give up, but still ‘pag bumalik ka, nandyan pa rin. It wasn’t hard for me to go back, but I still had to prove to people that I can still do it.”


Now, she’s back on television in her first-ever villain role as Katrina in the noontime soap, Nang Ngumiti ang Langit. “I’m a kontrabida and I love it,” Cristine declares, sharing that she asked for an antagonist role for years. “I asked for it years ago before ako mag-lie low, sabi ko sa boss namin, ‘Pwede ba isama niyo nalang ako sa show ng mga bata, tapos ako yung kontrabida?’” Now, she got what she asked for, and she’s enjoying the change of pace from the role of the pitiful victim she played for almost 10 years straight. “Nakakapagod din umiyak, lalo na kapag teleserye. [Kapag bida ka], non-stop ka iiyak for six months straight, so super draining siya. So ngayon masaya yung work ko, kasi kids’ show, tapos kontrabida so lagi akong nasa mansion,” she laughs.


On Becoming a Hands-On Mother

The biggest growth in Cristine happened when she became a mother, doting on now four-year-old Amarah. "Mid-life" crisis and other personal issues aside, Cristine has no regrets becoming a parent. “For me, they were saying na I should have waited. [And a part of me] iniisip ko, oo. But iniisip ko it’s there already. Anong mangyayari if you regret the things that you did? So, I’m actually happy having Amarah right now.”

For Cristine, her daughter changed her as a person and made her re-evaluate her goals. Next to her faith, the actress names Amarah as her top priority, and spends time with her child as often as her schedule allows. “As I’ve said, I was looking for meaning, purpose in life, si Amarah 'yung nagdala noon sa akin. Now that she’s growing, nakakausap ko na, nakikipag-interact na siya with me, I want to raise my child to be a better person, to be better than me. So for me, that’s my purpose now. Nahanap ko naman, nakuha ko naman yung gusto kong gawin—to have a purpose in life.”


"I want to raise my child to be a better person, to be better than me. So for me, that’s my purpose now."

Now, it’s the welfare of her daughter that drives Cristine to push herself to new heights in her career, far from a time when the actress once felt empty in her work and was tirelessly wearing herself out without aim. “Amarah gave me that meaning and drive to work, kasi before wala talaga akong drive sa work. Empty fuel talaga, running on an empty gas tank na ako.”


With her show biz comeback, Cristine’s main goal is clear: to provide a good future for her daughter. “Before, 'di ko iniisip to make or save more money. But right now, that’s the main thinking, to save up now. Secure Amarah’s and my future, that’s my goal.”


Aside from financial security, Cristine has also found real fulfillment in working with a specific purpose. “I have a lot of goals now, not just my career, but with life,” the actress shares. “I just want to do my best with my career, on every project that I’m taking, and be the best mom to Amarah, and be a better person.”


Cristine Reyes never really thought she’d be back here in the limelight, but as she’s clearly proven, show biz will always have a spot for her and now she’s here to stay. Life may have blindsided her, but as she rolls with the punches, nothing else can knock her down. Asked where she sees herself at this point in time, the actress answers, “Right now, so far, I’m climbing up again. I came to a point na nandoon ako sa bottom, rock bottom talaga. But when you’ve reached the bottom already, the only way to go is up.”

Produced and Styled by Marj Ramos

Photographed by Charisma Lico

Creative Direction by Mark Buenaobra

Co-produced by Nicole Arcano

Makeup by Mikka Marcaida for NARS Cosmetics

Hair by Jan Edrosolan

Nails by I Do Nails

Shoot Assistant: Riza Regalario

Set design by Something Pretty Manila


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