Catching up with Cita Capuyon, Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1983!
The last time I saw Cita Capuyon was some 25 years ago. We modeled together in several shows and share the coveted Bb. Pilipinas Universe title. Although she is known to avoid the limelight, I had a chance to interview her over a cup of tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati last January 30, 2013. Peninsula happens to be a significant place for the both of us – that’s where she and her husband, former 80s actor Greggy Liwag had their wedding reception; the very same ballrom where I won Miss Young Philippines 1981. Many thanks to Tony Paat for making this interview possible.
I had no idea what to expect when I set a date with Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1983 City Capuyon at the famed lobby of the Peninsula Hotel. So much time had passed since I saw her last and I didn’t want to make any premature judgements but when I saw her dusky beauty seated at the table nearest the hotel’s main door, I was NOT disappointed!
Napakaganda pa rin ni Cita at super fashionable pa! Some of the guests seated near us even kept glancing at her. She intimated to me that she was going to be a golden girl this August 2013 and I just had to shake my head in disbelief. Time may fly but she’s she’s still ‘fly’. Kaloka!
A refresher on Cita Capuyon:
– Rosita Cornel Capuyon began her career as a Triumph model along with another Pinay beauty queen – Bong Dimayacyac.
– In 1982, she joined Mutya ng Pilipinas and won Best in Swimsuit (waistline was only 21 inches!) and was a Semi-Finalist.
– Right after Mutya she competed in the Miss PPP (Philippines Press Photographers) pageant and placed 4th Runner-up. It was during this pageant that Cita met actor Greggy Liwag through a blind date arranged by Duday Mandanas who would eventually become Mutya ng Pilipinas Asia Pacific 1984.
– In 1983 Cita Capuyon won Bb. Pilipinas Universe as well as the special awards – Best in Swimsuit (again) and Lux Beauty. During her reign, she shot the action-drama film “Sigaw ng Katarungan‘ with Fernando Poe Jr. which was released in 1984. Watch the full-length movie here!
– In 1984 she crowned Desiree Verdadero. A month later she became Mrs. Greggy Liwag.
– In 1985 Cita Capuyon was elected to represent the Philippines in the Mrs. Woman of the World which was held in Hawaii. She placed as a semi-finalist. By this time, Cita was already a mom – her daughter Nicole was 6 months old.
Moving to the US in 1989 was a difficult choice but Cita Capuyon said all the intrigues and chismis that surrounded Greggy had given them no choice. They wanted to raise their daughter Nicole far away from her Dad’s troubled showbiz life. At the time, Greggy had shifted to doing R-Rated Movies under Seiko Films and was enjoying success as a ‘sexy male hunk’. But that success came with a hefty price: a seedy public image that was hurting his family.
Cita says the worst she had to endure were the ‘manufactured intrigues’ that made it seem like she was jealous of whoever his current leading lady was. It affected her so much that she even began to doubt Greggy. In spite of that, Cita Capuyon is the first to defend her husband. “Kahit ganun ang image niya noon, Greggy is really conservative. He is a family man. He just got caught up in the celebrity lifestyle.”
Starting Over Again.
Greggy, who was born in the US and had family living there, was able to adjust to the US quickly. He took up an IT course for several months before looking for a job in the field. Cita, meanwhile had ‘to eat her pride’ and learn how to live without house help. She joked that when she’s home, she’s just like a maid – cooking, cleaning, caring for kids… “pero carry pa rin,” she proudly states!
In the beginning, Filipinos in LA would recognize the couple, specially Greggy. “But they don’t recognize us anymore,” Cita says wistfully. Their days of fame have slowly faded and Cita Capuyon says now they are everyday people with everyday jobs living their own lives quietly. Sometimes too quietly that she can’t help but chide Greggy for being so ‘anti-social’ – he just likes staying at home (when not at work) and his circle of friends is very small, she says. A far cry from the Greggy Liwag who dominated the silver screen in the Philippines two or three decades ago! He is now an IT nerd who works for the stock exchange while Cita is a claims adjustor for an insurance firm.
Family Life. Period.
I asked Cita what she and Greggy did for recreation – if they had hobbies or a pastime but she said that all they did was go to work and then stay at home with the children. But even if the both of them have become so domesticated, Cita says they still make an effort to look good and stay healthy. “Naku, all the work keeps me slim,” she laughs. The former beauty queen maintains a tight figure. She adds, “Greggy doesn’t want me to get fat. And I make sure na hindi din siya tumataba.”
When we started talking about kids, Cita’s dusky eyes began to twinkle. “We have three children – Nicole who is now 27, John Gregory – named after Greggy – who is 22 and the youngest, Christopher who is 14.. And guess what?! I have two grandkids already!” We gushed over this for many moments and then she suddenly asked me, “ikaw, ready ka na ba maging lola?” And I laughed and said, “reding-ready!”
It felt so good to be laughing and sharing all these stories with Cita whom I hadn’t seen in ages. Her heavy-lidded eyes (her sexiest feature as far as I’m concerned) would glance at me and then she would chase it with a smile. Every now and then I’d take a photo of her and she’d shyly look around to see if people were watching. It seems like the beauty queen has forgotten what it’s like to be at the center of attention. But her graciousness remains and even if it was embarrassing for her, she gamely posed for photos.
RIP Ireneo Capuyon
In spite of the laughter we shared, there was a tinge of sadness in her eyes. “Tough season ito for me and Greggy,” she explains. “I was here in December last year (2012) for my mother’s birthday. She (Nora Capuyon) has Alzheimer’s, you know. Then on January 20, 2013, my father suddenly passed on so I had to fly back to Manila again!” Cita’s father, Ireneo Capuyon was a healthy 82 year-old with no serious illnesses but he accidentally slipped in the bedroom – a slip that turned out to be fatal.
To make matters worse, Greggy had a death in the family the day after (one of his parents passed on) so Cita had to fly to Manila alone to attend to her Father’s funeral. Tough times indeed. “But we will be fine,” she quietly says. “We will be fine.”
Missing the Fame.
Cita admits that she can never forget her beauty queen days. “Masarap ang feeling when you know you are part of Philippine history. Even my kids are proud and they tell everyone, ‘our Mom is a beauty queen! So yes, I miss the lifestyle and sometimes dream of coming back to the Philippines. But this is our life now. I cannot change my family. I have done all my fun things and I’m satisfied with all my achievements. What I have now, OK lang. I have accomplished a lot and I’m happy!”
After answering my gazillion questions, beauty pageant expert Tony Paat, who joined us for tea, showed us his collection of magazine and newspaper clippings from the 80s featuring Cita when she won Bb. Pilipinas Universe. We all looked through the clippings and gazed at images of a curly-haired beauty queen who stole the heart of a box-office king. And when I commented over her small waistline, she confirmed it was only 21 inches at the time. No wonder she won Best in Swimsuit twice! Then with the flip of a wrist, she signed some of the clippings and before I knew it, our afternoon together was over. Thank you Cita for the time, even in the midst of your mourning you are so beautiful and bright!