Maine Mendoza talks about the challenges of building relationships with people, contentment in her career, and plans of starting her own family
This is an excerpt from MEGA’s November 2022 cover story.
Maine Mendoza likes to keep her circle small. In fact, those 10 friends she laughingly mentioned have been in her life since she was a teenager. They do go out sometimes, but on random Saturday nights, they prefer being in a quiet restaurant than in a bar, sharing stories over cocktails—Mendoza loves amaretto sour. When she’s not doing that, she writes, and is barely active on social media.
This modest girl, who, we find out, has a charming knack for using humor to divert attention away from her, tells us she doesn’t like talking about relationships in general, not even the one she has with fiancé, actor and first-time congressman Arjo Atayde.
Ironically, while most parts of her life are kept behind closed doors, she can be too trusting of people, even strangers, and she tends to “overshare” information. “When I meet someone, and I feel this certain connection with them, opening up comes easy,” she says, with her expressive face scrunched up. “Madaling makuha ang loob ko. But it doesn’t happen with everyone that I meet in the industry. It’s rare to have that kind of connection. Fortunately, most of the people I’ve experienced that connection with ended up being my friends until now.”
She admits that in her world, where close friends keep warning her about the dark side of humanity, she chooses to see the light in everyone: “I always want to give people a chance. When they do something bad, that’s when I stop trusting them. But if there’s no reason for me to stay away, then I won’t. I don’t get swayed by other people’s opinions of other people.”
Unfortunately, she has learned the hard way that this kind of generosity is prone to corruption. In her long years in the business, she has had her heart broken a couple of times. “Every time I meet someone, I feel this connection, I open up, ’tapos hindi naman sila trustworthy. Then another person comes along, the same thing happens. Hindi na ako natuto. It’s a cycle for me. And I’d like to say I’m used to getting my heart broken when it comes to friendships, but I’m still okay. It happens.”
Though she doesn’t like to delve into this revelation, she admits that after all she has been through, she isn’t likely to give up on people. “It’s part of life.”
While she has lost friends, or people she thought were her friends, she has never lost sight of who she is. For someone who has around four million followers on Instagram alone, building relationships can be difficult, and poses a threat to conform to certain norms.
“I did not give in to what they wanted me to become,” she says about the people who tried to fabricate a version of her that doesn’t exist. At the start of her career, she was viewed as someone who was always bubbly and beaming, like YayaDub, the fictional character she used to play during one of the segments in the noontime variety show Eat Bulaga!—the one that made her famous. While that character is long gone, the expectations did not fade. In the end, it was a matter of acceptance for her fans.
“It was hard for them to adjust kasi they’ve always thought I was this kind of person who is very sunny and very perky, and you know, loud,” she says. “But when they meet me in person, they ask, ‘Why is she quiet? Why is she there in the corner? Why is she not talking?’ I do not adjust because it’s important in keeping my individuality.”
And this truthfulness has worked for her. In fact, designers and brands have continued to collaborate with Mendoza because she is believable and relatable. One of her biggest collaborations was with M.A.C. Cosmetics, making her the only Filipina to have worked with the international makeup brand.
“I cannot recall a single moment where I had to adjust to someone just because they had this certain expectation of me,” she says. “For as long as I am able to deliver and do my job well, I don’t see a reason for me to change myself.”
Mendoza is transparent. When she’s not comfortable, the people around her would know. She prefers it that way to keep a good dose of authenticity and honesty. When we ask, for instance, how she sees her career in three to five years, she immediately answers, “I want to explore life outside of show business.”
She isn’t giving up her profession, let that be clear. But she is keen on focusing on her other passions and dreams: “I really want to build a family. I want to have kids, and I want to travel with them and make more memories. That’s what I’m looking forward to. It’s scary, but I’m excited.”
Photography ANDREA BELDUA
Creative direction NICOLE ALMERO
Fashion direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Beauty direction MIA CASTRO
Styling MIGUEL QUILANG of NEW COLLECTIVE STYLE, assisted by ALBERT FURING
Makeup JUAN SARTE
Hair BRENT SALES
Video Producer REGINA ACERON
Videography JR RAMIREZ
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO
Shot on location PICC
Special thanks to PORTIA CABIAD of PICC