When she made her television debut back in 2010, Melai Cantiveros was just another housemate hoping to start a career in show business. Now, she is a successful host, comedienne and actress with a loving husband and two daughters. So, here is a look at the highlights from the past 10 years of her journey!
“Parang napalingon lang na nagbebenta ng isda o balut,” she joked. Melai’s first ever pictorial was for Pinoy Big Brother. At the time, she wore her best top, which she really saved up for. After being hailed the Big Winner of the popular reality show, she appeared in teleseryes and movies. But she did not just walk away with a career, she also met and fell in love with her husband Jason Francisco.
The Kapamilya star remembered bonding with Jason in the garden during their time inside Kuya’s house. One of the games they played was pretending to have a child. Unexpectedly, Big Brother decided to gift them with an actual stuffed doll with their combined features. “Grabe ang tawa namin kasi pati ba ‘yung mga kalokohan namin pinatulan ni Big Brother,” she said. The couple named this doll Dengue because the garden was near the pool, which attracted a lot of mosquitos.
“Talagang ang experience ko is unbelievable,” Melai continued. Her first acting role was for the 2010 show Kokey at Ako. Before, she was just a fan of Tony Gonzaga and Vhong Navarro. Suddenly, she actually had scenes with them for a teleserye. That same year, she also became part of PHR Presents Impostor with Maja Salvador and Sam Milby. Because of these opportunities, she learned how serious it is be an actor. “Masasabi ko hindi pala basta basta ang acting kasi iyakan dyan. Kung hindi ka magaling umiyak talagang ‘wag ka na lang mag-artista,” she realized.
Melai is thankful to have been trusted such projects despite her lack of experience, but it was the 2011 variety show I Dare You that was a true dream come true. Even after three months of hosting together, she still could not look Jericho Rosales in the eye without feeling shy. “Mamamatay talaga ako ‘pag si Jericho ang kasama ko. Hindi ko kaya,” she gushed.
By 2014, her first daughter was already a year old, but Melai managed to balance being a full-time celebrity and first-time mom. She appeared in the teleserye Two Wives with Erich Gonzales. The following year, she won Your Face Sounds Familiar where she notably performed “Waray Waray” as Elizabeth Ramsey while the real Elizabeth Ramsey watched in the audience.
By 2018, for an interview on Tonight With Boy Abunda, it was obvious how much she has changed physically. “I can say na medyo nagkalaman-laman na rin ‘yung mukha ko dyan,” she joked. She had a better life and credits Magandang Buhay for her continued success.
There is no doubt that she has been blessed with a fulfilling career. At the end of the day, however, she is most thankful for her family. “Ang family ko talaga ang greatest gift of all,” she said. The Magandang Buhay momshie admitted that she did not value herself until she met Jason. Later on, their story became more than a love story when they had beautiful daughters. “Na-realize namin na pangalagaan ang mga sarili namin para ialay sa mga anak namin,” she shared.