After 20 years in the entertainment industry, Sandara Park still embraces and showcases her proudly Pinoy heart.
In a tell-all interview with TV host and personality Luis Manzano, Sandara revealed that she did have some regrets despite her success as a K-pop idol. "Ngayon parang I regret na umalis ako (ng Pilipinas)," the Korean superstar told Luis.
She explained that when she first started her training to be an idol in Korea, she didn't feel regretful about putting a pause on her stardom in the Philippines. "At that time, I was young and I had a dream to be a Korean star." But looking back, "Feeling ko mas mayaman kayo, sa totoo lang," she informed Luis. "Sa Korea, di ba sa isang grupo, hati-hati kami ng payment with the company, with the members," Sandara said.
ICYDK, Sandara was one of the finalists of the first batch of the Star Circle Quest in 2004. That was her OG debut in the entertainment industry prior to her debut as a member of the global K-pop group 2NE1. She was even in a love team with the show's grand winner, Hero Angeles.
Sandara recalled that her Star Circle Quest audition in fact happened only by chance. It wasn't really Sandara's plan to enter the show. She came to ABS-CBN one day just to accompany her friend, and a staff member encouraged her to also line up.
"Sumama ako, and then may camera test 'di ba, one by one, pumasok ako. Sabi nila, "wait, can you smile?" Awkward pa ako noon. Sabi nila, "can you say hi?" Sabi ko, "Hi" Gumaganon-ganon, pumasok ako sa next round. Hanggang sa grand finals," Sandara narrated.
Little did she know that it was the beginning of her fame in the Philippines. But it wasn't all a smooth journey for Sandara in Philippine entertainment, being a South Korean competing in a talent show in the early 2000s.
"Pinapagalitan ako nina Tito Boy [Abunda]... Bumili raw ako ng boto, wala akong alam, wala akong pera. So parang among sinasabi nila? Eh 'di ba hindi pa ako marunong mag-Tagalog. 'Yun 'yung time na sinasabi ko sa camera na I want to go home," she told Luis.
When asked if there was really a time during the competition that she really meant wanting to go home, Sandara answered, "Actually all the time. Kasi sa lahat ng episode parang ako 'yung last. Parang no one think na magaling ako, marunong akong umarte o kumanta, may hosting pa."
She was given the moniker Pambansang Krung-Krung for her unusual and crazy antics onscreen that people actually loved. Her natural take as an aspiring celebrity and her genuineness during Star Circle Quest made the audience adore her.
Now, she's not just the Pambansang Krung-Krung but also Dara of 2NE1. Three years after her success in the Philippines, she went back to South Korea not to live a normal life, but to dream even higher.
Sandara admitted that she came back to Korea as a nobody. Her stardom in Manila did not mean anything in her homeland back during the early 2000s. "I started from the training again. I was a trainee, walang pera, gutom ako, walang nakakakilala sa akin. Lagi ako nasa practice room," she uttered.
Her K-pop journey really started from scratch, she shared. This makes Sandara look back on her career with much appreciation. "Very lucky ako," she told Luis.
The K-pop idol also shared that although 2NE1 is inactive these days, all the members are on good terms and are doing really well in their respective careers.
"Okay naman 'yung friendship namin pero as a group hindi ko pa alam anong pwedeng mangyari in the future, pero we're doing well," Sandara declared.
Setting aside her thoughts on life and career, Luis did not hold back and questioned Sandara about her love life. But "Sandy" is the kind of person who wants to keep things really private.
"I never revealed about my love life. Kasi gusto ko private lang, siyempre nagkaroon din ako ng boyfriend," Sandara revealed. "Lahat tayo we can break up, pero hay nako 'pag nalaman ng mga tao, they can talk about it forever."
Now, at 39 years old and with all her success as a celebrity, Sandara still has big dreams she'd like to accomplish. Although not new to world tours since she's done countless concerts a 2NE1 member, her biggest goal at the moment is to have her own solo world tour.
"Before ang dream ko lang is to release my own album, ngayon ang gusto ko mag-tour na...kasi may mga fans pa rin ako all over the world," she proclaimed. ICYMI, she has actually released her first solo extended play (EP) titled Sandara Park.
Sandara's interview with Luis is proof that she hasn't closed any doors, and is still open to opportunities in the Philippine showbiz industry. In fact, her love for the PH led to Dara filming an episode of Idol Truck Project with celebrity friends in Pampanga!
Watch their full interview here: