Judy Ann Santos admits that there were times when she thought about transferring to other TV networks.
She revealed this in an exclusive interview with PEP.ph in March 2019 when she narrated behind-the-scenes stories about her teleseryes.
Judy Ann, who is dubbed as ABS-CBN's Queen of Pinoy Soap Opera, has been signed with the Kapamilya network since 1992. She started when she did the teleserye Mara Clara with Gladys Reyes.
During her 27-year stay with ABS-CBN, there were times when Judy Ann was rumored to have a rift with management, or that she planned to transfer to other networks.
The latest was in 2013, while Judy Ann was doing her prime-time series, Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala.
This was because her series, which was originally aired in the second prime-time slot, was transferred to the third slot.
Judy Ann said about this during her PEP.ph interview, "Parang hindi naman ito yung napag-usapan, pero nirerespeto ko na things change and you can't really do anything about it.
"Parang sabi ko, 'Ah, ganong oras, may gising pa naman niyan for sure.'
"Hanggang sa ililipat na ako sa alas-diyes, doon na yung parang ang dating sa akin, 'Bakit hindi niyo na lang tapusin?'
"Kasi sino pang manonood ng...hinihingan niyo ako ng ratings, anong ratings ang maibibigay ko sa alas-diyes ng gabi? Yun naman yung pinanggagalingan ko."
Judy Ann then decided to cut the show's run. Originally intended to air for 13 weeks, Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala had a 10-week run on ABS-CBN's prime-time block.
After the show's run, Judy Ann was vocal in saying that she was open to the possibility of entertaining offers from other networks. But eventually, she renewed her contract with ABS-CBN.
The same incident also happened in 2007, when it was reported that Judy Ann might be transferring to GMA-7, after doing the GMA Films-produced movie, Ouija.
Talking about her relationship with ABS-CBN, Judy Ann quipped, "Love-hate talaga kami!"
Judy Ann remains loyal to the Kapamilya network because management would always listen to her concerns.
The 41-year-old actress explained, "They're always a good listener naman, e. Siguro kasi ang lalim na ng relationship ko with them.
"Every time na may nararamdaman ako or every time na may sama ako ng loob sa kanila, I'd set up a meeting and actually tell them kung ano yung nangyari. Gusto ko rin kasi marinig kung ano yung sa part nila.
"Parang feeling ko kasi, importanteng maging open ka rin sa mga boss mo, kasi sa dami ninyo, hindi naman nila kayo mai-isa-isa na iparamdam nila sa 'yo kung naisantabi ka ba."
At this point in her career, Judy Ann knew that there will be moments where she won't be prioritized by her mother network, especially with the rise of many up-and-coming stars.
She continued, "Kasi at one point, darating talaga yung puntong maisasantabi ka kasi ang dami na, e. Ang dami na tapos marami ring magagaling.
"Hindi mo naman puwedeng i-compare yung sarili mo sa kanila kasi mas bata sila.
"That's the time na you also question yourself na, 'Am I still really worth staying here or hanap na lang ako ng ibang bahay kasi parang hindi naman ako napapansin?'
"Pero you'd always go back na, hindi naman po sa nagmamayabang ako, pero parang wala naman po akong ibinigay na teleserye na hindi nag-re-rate."
Judy Ann has done eight teleseryes in ABS-CBN: Mara Clara (1992 to 1997), Esperanza (1997 to 1999), Sa Puso Ko, Iingatan Ka (2001 to 2003), Krystala (2004 to 2005), Sa Piling Mo (2006), Ysabella (2007), Habang May Buhay (2010), and Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala (2013).
She was also able to headline her own drama special called Judy Ann Drama Special in 2000 and was part of the youth-oriented series Gimik from 1996 to 1997.
The Kapamilya actress also pointed out that she has a good relationship with the bosses of ABS-CBN, which is why she is able to easily voice out her concerns whenever she needs to.
"I have a good relationship with ABS-CBN, especially with Tita Cory Vidanes, with Ma'am Charo Santos-Concio, with Sir Gabby Lopez, and Direk Lauren Dyogi.
"Siguro kasi, lumaki na ako sa kanila kaya kaya kong sabihin sa kanila kapag malungkot na malungkot na ako, tapos naiinis na ako sa kanila.
"Ayoko na siyang palakihin pa, makikipag-usap na ako and they always reach out naman kapag nakakarating sa kanilang nagtatampo ako.
"After ng usap na 'yon, okay na. Mas nagkakaroon lang na feeling ko lang, it had to happen. Naniniwala ako sa ganon, e. Things happen not just because trip lang ni Lord, things happen because you have to learn something from it.
"You have to adjust at some point and there's always a reality na things don't always go your way and you have to accept that, because if you don't, malulungkot ka, mawawala ka sa focus mo.
"Change is inevitable, e. If you resist change, maiiwan ka ng trend.
"Ikaw, ngumangawa ka diyan kung bakit naiwan ka, e, kasi ikaw hindi ka nag-adjust.
"So you have to learn to adjust sa career, sa lahat. Basically, hindi lang naman sa pagiging artista, e. Sa kabuuan ng buhay, ang dating sa akin, hindi mundo ang maga-adjust sa 'yo, ikaw ang maga-adjust.
"Ikaw ang nakakakita, e. Nakikita ka ba ng mundo? Ikaw ang nakakakita, ikaw ang maghahanap ng posisyon mo. Kung saan ka masaya, e, 'di doon ka. Kung hindi sila masaya pero masaya ka, e, 'di stick ka kung saan ka masaya."
Judy Ann then declared that she is happy with ABS-CBN at present.
She said, "Yeah, oo naman. Parang I've learned to accept na kung ano yung posisyon ko na may mga young stars ngayon na nasa kanila yung focus."
In fact, she is currently taping for her prime-time series, Starla, which aired on ABS-CBN's prime-time block on October 7.
Judy Ann, who started as a child actress, entered showbiz at the time when celebrities were not spoon-fed with what they needed, and that things were not as accessible as they are right now.
"Siguro ang pinakamagandang masasabi ko sa panahon namin nila Gladys Reyes, nila Sunshine Dizon, nila Angelika dela Cruz, we learned how to deal with the realities of being in the business. Alam namin kung ano yung hirap.
"Walang mga P.A. [personal assistant] noon, walang handlers noon. Kami-kami lang and we're okay.
"Not that I'm saying na hindi okay na mag-handler, but you know, it just cuts your learning process in the business when there's a lot of people behind you.
"Ngayon na lang naman ako nagkaroon ng team, e. Dati ako lang at saka si Ate Binay. For the longest time, it was just me and her."
Ate Binay is Judy Ann's longtime nanny, who passed away in 2017.
"Ngayon na lang ito na may glam team kasi dati, naghu-host nga kami ng ASAP, hair and makeup, kami. Damit, kami din.
"Wala! Talagang bitbit mo gamit mo and it's totally fine. Okay kami.
"Kapag may kasama ka pa nga, 'Wow, sikat! May kasama,' yung ganon kaya mas mahihiya ka pa magdala ng kasama!"
Even though she has been in the business for so long, and even after becoming a household name, Judy Ann admitted that there was a time when she felt insecure in her career, especially after she gave birth in 2010.
The Mara Clara actress narrated, "Siyempre, dumating din naman ako sa punto na nandiyan ako, hindi ko naman itatago 'yon, parang kalokohan 'yon, kaplastikan kung sasabihin kong never dumating sa punto sa akin yung na-insecure ako.
"At some point, insecurity will slowly creep in na hindi mo namamalayan. Yun yung binibigay niyang pakiramdam sa 'yo especially after giving birth.
"That's the time na you'll feel na parang, 'Ah kasi mataba na ako.' 'Ah kasi, ganito na ko kaya nababalewala na ako.'
"That's the time na makikipag-tug of war ka sa sarili mo, e, kung paano mo ibabangon sarili mo, paano mo ire-redeem ang sarili mo, hanggang sa lumet-go na lang ako."
Now, Judy Ann is proud to say that she has overcome her insecurities.
She said with a smile, "Hindi ko na ire-redeem yung sarili ko sa industriya, ire-redeem ko yung sarili ko sa sarili ko!
"Parang buong buhay ko naman, nagtrabaho naman ako. Alam niyo naman yung buong buhay ko.
"Oh, ngayon, wala na kayong pwedeng sabihin pa sa akin. Parang binigay ko naman yung sarili ko sa inyo.
"Ngayon, kung may masasabi pa kayo dahil lang nandito ako sa posisyon na ito, hindi niyo naintiindihan kung ano ang takbo ng buhay.
"Nandito ako sa posisyon ngayon na I'm confident with how I look, with what I want, with my family, with my kids. I'm at my happiest when I'm always with them.
"Parang I've given 50 percent of my life to this industry and I never regret anything from it.
"Mahal ko itong industriya na ito, parang hello, ito yung buhay ko, chapter one to chapter 20!
"But you'll just reach a point in your life na mararamdaman mo na lang na, 'Ay, hindi ka na tanggap sa ganito, okay.' Wala na siyang issue."
Even after getting a huge fan base, starring in several top-rating programs, and enjoying box-office hits, Judy Ann said that she does not allow these things to get into her head.
She told PEP.ph, "Hindi ko siya naiisip. Ayoko isa-isahin, parang hindi siya nagma-matter para sa akin kasi ayokong palakihin yung ulo ko.
"Ayokong yabangan yung sarili ko kasi ayokong ipakita sa mga anak ko yung kung marinig ng mga anak ko yung ganon na kung ano yung trabahong ibinigay mo, ibinigay mo 'yon, period.
"Hindi mo siya ika-count as kailangan matandaan niyo itong trabahong 'to. Trabaho ko 'yan, bayad ako dito, obligasyon kong i-deliver kung anong dapat kong i-deliver kasi kinuha niyo ako.
"So kailangan kong patunayan na worth it yung pagkuha niyo sa akin, worth it yung pagbayad niyo sa akin.
"Lahat ito, negosyo. Kung pepersonalin mo ito, matagal na akong patay. Buti na lang hindi ako ganon. Tingnan mo buhay pa rin ako!"