Forteza

We really had to hold on to each other for strength in order to get through it,” said actress Barbie Forteza, who admitted experiencing one of the most difficult times last month because some members of her family got infected with the COVID-19 virus.

“We had a COVID-19 surge in the family,” the actress told Inquirer Entertainment during the postevent interview for the September edition of Inquirer Read-Along, which was hosted by Herbalife Nutrition and where she was the celebrity storyteller.

“For me, it’s not a joke. It’s not merely the subject of news anymore. The virus is real. It has infected my family,” said Barbie, who added that she would rather not go into specifics. “I’m really frustrated because, even now that we’re already on our second year in this pandemic, some people still don’t believe it exists. Some still question the use of vaccines, and the importance of wearing masks and taking the necessary precautions.”

Research

She also expressed disappointment in people who don’t take time to learn about the virus. “Finding information about it online is no longer as difficult as before. Research is free. Even if they look outside, they could see that this isn’t merely invented to scare others. The past month was the worse for me. August was indeed a ghost month. The incidents of infection in my family happened one after the other. We really had to be strong for each other.”

Barbie said the best way to handle the news that one is infected is to keep calm about it. “Avoid feeling stressed about it, especially when you’re fully vaccinated because it’s likely that you will only experience mild symptoms. What we need to do is take care of our mental health, especially when we’re already in isolation,” said Barbie. “Try not to overthink when you’re already alone. Keep yourself occupied by watching movies or engaging people on social media. Know that while there are deaths, there are also a lot of people who have recovered from the virus. What you can also do is read about what they did to survive it.”

She further said: “Another thing you should do is work on your symptoms because, up to now, there is no specific medicine for COVID-19 yet. This means that if you’re coughing, work on getting better from that.”

Barbie, who is a mainstay of the Kapuso variety show “All-Out Sunday,” said she really wished for the pandemic to end because it has greatly affected the industry. “We all want to go back to how things were. We all want to be able to spend time with our supporters. This is why it’s important to help each other put an end to this virus,” said the actress, who will likewise be in an episode of the anthology show “Regal Studio Presents” soon.

With Jak Roberto (right), her boyfriend of four years

While Barbie said she has also experienced the disheartening effect of the pandemic, she has a lot to be thankful for. Case in point: Barbie and Jak Roberto, her boyfriend of four years, used to travel abroad a lot as a way to unwind and bond. These days, they consider binge-watching together a form of bonding.

“Jak and I are so blessed that we have no right to complain about our current situation. It’s OK if we can’t travel for now. Others are experiencing problems that are far graver than that. We’re blessed that our only ‘problem’ is to stay put,” Barbie said. “We realized that there are so many things we can do at home. We learned how to cook.

“Jak also encouraged me to work out. He taught me routines that are best for my body type. We both love coffee, so we make time to enjoy our drinks together. I’m happy as long as we’re together. What’s important is that we’re both healthy and safe.”

Future plans

Barbie admitted that the pandemic has also made her think about the future, especially when she is alone and is doing random things. “The pandemic makes you realize that life is indeed short, so you plan for what’s ahead,” the 24-year-old said as a response to our question on what age she thought she’d be ready to finally settle down.

“Of course this has already crossed my mind. Nothing is definite yet, but if all will be in my favor, I’d be ready to get married by age 28. Of course, I also have to consider my career and financial status at the time, but that’s when I’ll start building my family—although I still want to maximize my time as Jak’s wife before I become a mom.”

As to the kind of wife she imagined herself would be, Barbie said: “I think I’d be the type who will focus more on the kids, once we already have them. I also want to continue working. As Jak’s wife, I’d be more caring and sensitive to his needs. If ever he would feel down and would be close to burning out, I’d give him space.

“I’d be a dutiful wife, for sure. I’d also be a good listener if he wants to talk. However, there’s only one thing that I keep telling Jak that I can’t do: household chores! I told him, ‘If you’d give me the chance, I’d willingly learn it. I’m just giving you a heads-up right now,” she said, laughing. INQ

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