By: Marane A. Plaza

Genes are indeed fascinating– how they carry the information that determines your facial features, traits and innate talents that you inherit from your parents. And in the case of Sunshine Cruz and Angelina Cruz, both beauty and brilliance have been evidently passed on from mother to daughter quite beautifully.

For Angelina, the eldest among the three daughters of former showbiz couple Sunshine Cruz and Cesar Montano, turning her passion in music into a career was more than just a case of genes. It’s also a case of volition and hard work. Just recently, her cover of Hanggang Kailan by Orange and Lemons has reached 10 millions streams on Spotify. There are a lot of singers right now with all sorts of mainstream promotions and publicity efforts who still won’t and can’t achieve the same feat. But the younger Cruz’s mellow, soothing voice is easily a great choice when you’re into love songs or sentimental music, because it is so relaxing it can pull your heartstrings. Raised in a musical household, singing is like breathing for Angelina. But the 19-year-old artist was not always all out about it.

“It was actually my two younger siblings Sam and Chesca who really wanted to pursue singing at first because I was so shy. I was very introverted,” the teenage songstress shared. “But when I was around 13 years old, I started playing my ukelele for fun. I would search up some chords. I taught myself how to play ukelele, and I would search for covers on YouTube, like how to play songs. That’s when I learned how to sing. When I mastered it a bit, that’s when I uploaded covers on YouTube and Instagram, and I think that’s when Universal Records discovered me. They contacted my mom and offered a record deal. I decided na parang I wanted to pursue my passion in singing as a career.”

Angelina’s love for music and talent in singing is something generational. Because mom Sunshine shared how she too grew up watching her dad perform as a band leader.          

“I can’t help but love music because my dad was the bandleader of 747, who used to perform here and abroad for hotels like Mandarin Hotel for more than a decade,” Sunshine narrated. Coming from showbiz royalty who produced successful singers and actors Ricky Belmonte, Sheryl Cruz, Donna Cruz and Geneva Cruz, it’s no surprise that Sunshine shines in singing and acting too.  

“My father was in a band together with Uncle Jess (Jess Cruz is Ricky Belmonte’s real name), the father of my cousin Sheryl Cruz. My dad was the vocalist, the music arranger and the keyboard player. My two older sisters Maricel and Maritess were also part of the band as singers. It’s a family thing. The drummer was my other uncle, the guitarist was also another uncle, while the bass guitarist was my brother. I was the youngest in the family, so talagang noong bata pa lang ako I was rehearsing how to sing. Because the family’s plan was once one of my sisters gets married, I’ll be the one to replace them. I was really preparing to be a band singer. I was also studying in a school in Pasig which was very conservative, so being in showbiz did not cross my mind. My mind was focused on also touring in a performing musical band one day. My dad was my idol. That band was really active until he died in early 2000s. But one of my sisters still used to occasionally sing,” Sunshine said.


While music was the only goal of then-14-year-old Sunshine, fate had different plans.

“How I was discovered to be in showbiz is a funny story. Every time na birthday ni Ricky Belmonte, my Uncle Jess would invite the family. So one time, talent manager German Moreno was there. I did not know na tinitignan-tignan na pala ako. Then he approached me. Because every year, he would recruit new talents for their hit variety show That’s Entertainment,” Sunshine said.So I was asked if I wanted to be a part of That’s Entertainment. That time, I said no because I was not allowed. But when I saw my cousins being introduced on the show as artists, I thought I should be there too.” The show made way for the 14-year-old Sunshine learn how to perform on stage professionally. She learned how to dance while singing in the TV show. “I enjoyed singing on That’s Entertainment, and I was able to learn how to dance well too. I was part of the Wednesday Group of the show.”

In one of her performances on the iconic variety show, respected film producer Mother Lily Monteverde saw the potential in young Sunshine to also be an actress. “I was called for a meeting with Mother Lily’s Regal Films. It was me, and other actresses Karla Estrada, Jackie Forster and Shirley Fuentes who were launched as ‘The Regal Films Babies’ of the ‘90s. So from then on, ayun na. I decided to pursue my career in acting more.” Sunshine starred in a series of movies all throughout the 1990s– like Shake Rattle & Roll IV (1992), Aguinaldo (1993), Junior Police (1994), The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust! (1995), Virgin People 2 (1996), , Ang Pinakamahabang Baba sa Balat ng Lupa (1997), Ama Namin (1998) and Bullet (1999)– to name a few.


Acting in more than 30 films in the ‘90s, Sunshine was popular for having a goddess-like beauty perfectly matched with exquisite acting. She recalled how the beauty scene in films was like during the ‘90s. 

“There was no full-on glam team to style you. Clothing brands would sometimes sponsor you. They would ask us to wear their clothes, and we would thank them. For makeup, there was a production makeup artist, until famous makeup artists like Leony Diaz and Bambbi Fuentes took care of me because they would sponsor us in That’s Entertainment. You would decide what shoes to wear. If you’re lucky, clothing lines would sponsor you. But if not, you would really spend money or invest in yourself, or some would borrow. It was really different compared to how we do it today in the industry.”

Just like any other teenage girl, Sunshine would experiment with different beauty trends. She recalled frosted hair, thin brows and dark lipsticks as major ‘90s beauty trends. “I did not have a say when it came to my looks when I was starting out. Not until I was two to three years in the business when I discovered what I wanted for myself, what looked nice on me when it came to makeup and hairstyles,” she said.

With her beauty, it’s easy to think that Sunshine may have never had to deal with feeling insecure from time to time. But the actress admits she had her own share of struggles that she had to deal with especially when she was younger. It’s important to note though that before there’s Anne Curtis who’s known for her full lips, there was Sunshine Cruz in the ‘90s. But the actress did not totally embrace the beauty of her lips back then.  

“In the ‘90s especially locally, having full lips was not trendy. Full, thick lips were not totally celebrated. People would always comment, ‘Oh she has big lips’. People would always associate thick lips with Sunshine Cruz,” the actress said. “These days, lip fillers and overlining your lips are suddenly so trendy. But during my younger years, I was so conscious of my lips because they were considered a disadvantage that time. But now I realize that looking back, people won’t distinguish me from other artists if I didn’t have this kind of lips.”

She turned her insecurity into power. Sunshine was known for popularizing dark lipsticks as one of the major beauty trends in the ‘90s. “My makeup artist at that time would always put dark lipstick on me, and I loved it. That’s when I learned to overcome my insecurities. Before nagkaroon ng Anne Curtis and her red lipstick, there was Sunshine Cruz and her dark lipstick. I learned that you just have to be confident with what God gave you. Some people would see my thick lips as a disadvantage, while some would appreciate them. What’s important was how I embraced and found a way to celebrate my flaw and turn it into a thing of beauty.”


“Now that I am 43 years old, I believe by now I know what is perfect for me. Or what makes me feel comfortable. But at the same time, I listen to the opinions of those who love me on what looks good on me,” Sunshine shared.

Sunshine was at the height of her acting career when she decided to get married and start her family in 2000. The then-23-year-old actress married another celebrated actor, Cesar Montano. “I was being launched into more mature, sexy roles but my father did not approve of it. So when the father of my kids proposed, I took it as a sign that I should lay low from showbiz and focus on starting my own family. My mother also married young and she was my peg in life. And I thought we would have the same fate when it comes to marriage.”

Sunshine would still guest star in some TV dramas like Claudine Barretto’s Marina and Jodi Sta. Maria’s Please Be Careful With My Heart. “I would act part-time, but my focus was really on my former husband and raising the kids,” she said.

Her 13 years hiatus in showbiz ended when her marriage did not work out .”When I got separated from my husband in 2013, it was also my first time to join TV dramas full time,” she said. Her hit drama TV series like Dolce Amore, WildFlower, Love Thy Woman and Bagong Umaga have made her a household name again. But during the first days of her comeback, she was admittedly shocked at how the beauty industry in filming had hugely changed.

“I was shocked that I told myself, ‘Wow, now there’s a thing called a stylist!’. Now you can request for a personal makeup artist and a personal fashion stylist. With regards to your looks as your character in TV series and films, there’s already a formal meeting. Before, you just went straight to tapings.”

Sunshine is so loving the current beauty trends too. ”Now, there’s a thing called a primer. Unlike before when you just went straight to applying foundation which would look cakey on your face. So now, I love that makeup definitely looks better on your skin because of primers. There are way more skin-prepping nowadays, like primers and creams– that your face registers so nicely on camera. Makeup looks like your natural skin because of skin-prep, and I am so into that.”

Sunshine also shared that she is a huge collector of red lipsticks, but that she explores current beauty trends from time to time. “Now, I am more into peachy, coral or nude lipsticks. I feel like in photos, they look better because they look more clean and sleek, and not so out there or not too loud.”

Sunshine has always been noted as a timeless beauty due to her young-looking skin even in her 40s. When  it comes to skincare, Sunshine is raving how sunblock keeps her skin more youthful. “When it comes to skincare, applying SPF is one of my favorites. I use Silka Lotion with SPF 30. Then before I apply makeup, I wash my face with a very mild soap and of course, I use face creams like a night cream for my face and also an eye cream for under eyes at night. It’s very important that you moisturize at night, especially when you’re sleeping in an air-conditioned room. At day time naman, I use a very mild cleanser. I’ve been using Silka for 13 years now. Even before I became the endorser, I was using Silka soap na talaga. Then of course I use moisturizer, and serum on my face. Kapag meron akong pimple, I put spot treatments.”

“People would always comment that me and my daughters look like we are just siblings. That we are flawless. But it is not true that there are some people who are flawless. They just know how to conceal their flaws. Like for women, it’s just natural that there are days in a month that we are bloated and we’re not feeling good. But we just need to know what to wear, like what we are comfortable with and what looks good on us and appropriate for the situation. So if you think you look bloated, wear a printed top and leggings. Or on days that you have pimples, put on a hair clip so eyes would go there instead of your zits. It’s about diverting people’s attention away from your flaws and emphasizing your favorite features. And listen to those who love you, they will tell you if a fashion or beauty trend does not look good on you.”

The actress is proud to say that her best friends are her three daughters, and she always encourages open communication among them.


Just like her mom, Angelina is so into skincare and makeup. “My mom has amazing skincare tips po. Well, first and mostly she’s always taught us to always wash your face everyday. Never forget to wash your face or take a bath everyday because that’s how oil builds up and that’s how you break out. I mean, that’s how it happens to me. Aside from that, she’s also taught me how to use pimple dry solution and it works well for me especially when I go home from a full-day shoot. With makeup on my face the entire day, that’s when I break out.  She taught me to never forget to remove my makeup before I sleep,” Angelina shared.

Angelina is indeed taking better care of her skin nowadays as she has recently transitioned from just a singer to now a singer slash actress. The younger Cruz has debuted her acting career on TV 5’s sitcom John En Ellen.

“Actually it really came as a shock to me that the producers of John En Ellen called my mom and offered me a role because it’s pretty known that I don’t speak Tagalog that well. I’m not a really good speaker but I do understand Tagalog. I was shocked that I was given a role, so it made me more motivated to master my Tagalog because I was very lucky to be offered work and to be able to act, especially now that we are in the middle of a pandemic. I feel like the real challenge for me is mastering my Tagalog and I’m working hard on that po,” Angelina said.

The newly debuted actress highlighted how it was a breeze to work with her John En Ellen family, as the environment is very light. She’s more than thankful that she gets to experience her first acting gig with her co-stars, as they started filming in December last year. Angelina’s character alongside Ellen Adarna and John Estrada is Camille Culantong, one of the twin children of John and Ellen.  “Camille or Cam is basically the eldest of the twins because she’s 7 seconds earlier than her brother Bal. The show is very light. I think that I relate to my character because she is very eldest-like, and I am the eldest of the three of us. I am also very strict when it comes to crushes, I relate to Camille like that. And she is also very close to her mom like me.”

Angelina feels more than blessed that her mother is a veteran actress who knows how to handle the pressure of acting and fame.

“Of course there are days when I have insecurities, especially when I compare myself to others which I now know is a big no-no. That’s what I have learned– to never compare myself with other people because my mom told me this: There will always be someone prettier, smarter or whatever kind of characteristic that’s better and more than you. But what’s important is you work on yourself. You focus on being you instead of trying to copy other people. Stop comparing yourself with others,” she said.


Aside from doing professional acting and singing, Angelina is also a college student pursuing a course in Marketing Management at De La Salle University. She shared that her mom always taught her to prioritize her studies.

When it comes to her music, Angelina has been experimenting especially now that the pandemic forces us to stay at home. “So far, the songs I’ve released were written by the music producers and writers at Universal Records. But I’ve been exploring.” 

“I really grew up with music because my dad sings, my mom sings, and my sisters also sing. I really feel that all those musical influences built up inside of me, that it made me want to pursue music. My mom has always inspired me to continue doing music and to always work on it. Her words are  always very encouraging and her support made me come out of my shell, it made me spread my wings. And also, the comments on my Instagram about my singing are very encouraging too. It’s very fulfilling to know that my music has touched some people emotionally, because through music I guess is how us people can express our emotions like sadness. And it’s very touching to be a part of a human experience like that. That really made me become even more motivated to push through and work on my music always,” she said. “For now, my musical influences are Daniel Ceasar and Billie Eilish. I love chill kind of music genres, or R&B.”


When it comes to beauty, Angelina is a minimalist.

“My favorite makeup trends would be the no-makeup looks because ever since, I’ve never really liked putting on too much makeup on my face. So when I saw a lot of no makeup look trends that came up on YouTube, I was so happy  because I like those. I also really love dewy looks,” she shared. 

“I’m more of a concealer-type-of-girl, because my eyebags are very deep-set. So if I leave the house without any concealer on, people would mistake me for, like very sick. When at work, I always tell makeup artists po na I always want the natural look, or peachy-type natural looks. I think that I look best with that kind of look,  not very bold. I don’t think that I look that good with too much makeup, so less is more for me.”  

Angelina is also very thankful to learn some beauty tricks from professional makeup artists in the industry that she’s worked with. “I’ve experienced having my makeup done by plenty of makeup artists but along the way, I’ve learned to always prep my skin before makeup. Always prep the base. Never forget to use a primer. And then when blending eyeshadows, you should blend it down instead of other different ways because it creates a more natural look. I think I learned the eyeshadow trick from Muriel,” she said. Muriel is the cover shoot’s makeup artist. 

Also, for this star, it’s about accepting your own beauty. “I feel like more than anything, it’s very important to embrace your own beauty because once you do, that’s when self-love and self-care can begin. That’s when you start working on yourself and your happiness,’ Angelina said.


Aside from excelling in acting and singing, the cover girls are also known for voicing out the importance of self-love, prioritizing respect for women, knowing your worth and setting boundaries. Just recently, Sunshine and her three girls had to deal with some foul viral photo editing done by some disrespectful social media trolls. 

“It’s never right to sexualize kids, especially minors. I have 2 minor female children, and one 19-year-old woman. I think since we are all girls, we have become targets of these online perverts. I don’t think we should stay silent when it comes to dealing with online perverts because we always need to respect and protect women, especially the younger ones,” Sunshine expressed. “I’m just so grateful I was able to teach my kids to be tough– like they know how to set boundaries and protect themselves. If my speaking out against online bullying and profanity can help end indecent and disrespectful interactions thrown at women on social media, then I will always speak out,” Sunshine added. “We are no longer in the era where you’re doing things for publicity. And I don’t need that. I am speaking out against perverts online not just for my kids, but for all women.”

“I’m already 43 years old and I’ve been blessed with projects. So I don’t need gimmicks. I believe that sometimes, we need to blast these online perverts and remind them that they have female relatives too. And if their family members are targeted too, they won’t like it as well. I’ve learned to fight for our boundaries and give these pervs some lessons if needed– and also to know if it’s time for us to move forward because these trolls are a waste of time. It’s also not healthy physically and mentally to be affected by that. I’m just proud of myself that my kids know how to handle situations like that and they speak up when needed.”

“In general, know your self-worth as a woman. Know that it is not bad to love and protect yourself. Because like with me as a single mom, there was a time all my focus was on my ex-husband and kids alone. In 2013 when I got separated from my ex, I learned to love myself again. Everything followed after that. If you love and take care of yourself, it will radiate positivity,” Sunshine said. “Also, always take care of your health.”

Recently, Sunshine made headlines when she confirmed that she’s been one of those affected by the spread of COVID-19 in the shoot production of the hit ABS-CBN TV series Bagong Umaga. “It was really hard but it wasn’t the fault of the production because they’re very strict. And we did all the tests needed before entering our lock-in tapings. Maybe, certain things just cannot be controlled when it comes to this pandemic we are all facing. We all overcame it, thank God. I always say, if tomorrow I need to do another locked-in taping for ABS-CBN, I would say yes. I trust ABS-CBN so much and I know that they can take care of their talents. Plus, I made a lot of friends during our locked-in taping. We still keep in touch like I still talk to my co-actors Nikki Valdez, Rio Locsin, Cris Villanueva. And even the kids, like Yves, Barbie, Kiko and Tony. It’s nice to have a second family.”

ABS-CBN’s Bagong Umaga has recently wrapped up, and Sunshine Cruz has once again successfully created an iconic character that the audience will remember for a long time.”Maggie Viradona is a rich woman who’s kind of mean to her only child played by Barbie Imperial. I wanted her to be the best. I wanted her to be like me because I thought it was the only way to maintain my husband’s love for me. But her daughter’s suicide attempt made Maggie realize her shortcomings as a mother. That’s when she became a more caring mom.”

If there’s one thing that her recent TV character has highlighted when it comes to parenting, Sunshine believes that it’s the power of open communication. “I thank God that I’ve been blessed with beautiful and smart daughters who really love and respect me. I think our great relationship started when we promised to each other that we’ll always try to have an open communication,” Sunshine said. “For moms out there, it is important that you always talk to your kids. It’s okay to be tough once in a while so your kids know that there’s always boundaries and they need to respect you. But there’s also time to appreciate our kids especially when they’re doing something good. Let’s talk to our kids and show them we love them. Open communication is very important to both children and parents. I always tell my kids, your friends may mean well. But your mom knows what’s best for you so don’t hesitate to ask for advice from me. To parents, don’t have too high or unrealistic expectations pushed on your kids. But rather praise them if they did something good.”

Sunshine is basking in the milestones of her daughters. Her second daughter, Sam Cruz, has just released her single “Train of Thoughts” under Universal Records. She’s also a semi-regular on noontime variety show ASAP, as she’s co-managed by Star Magic. While Chesca, her youngest, is focused on her studies. “My rule for my kids is that they can do things on the side, but finishing your studies is the top priority.” 

Sunshine is currently prioritizing her wellbeing. ”My lungs are still very weak from COVID-19 although I’ve been negative for a while. But I take better care of my body through nutrition and exercise,” she said. “When it comes to self-love and self-care, we need me-time as mothers. It’s not bad, and it’s not a sin to take care of yourself or even pamper yourself. Just because you are a mother, does not mean you’re no longer allowed to take care of yourself. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for your me-time. Once in a while we have to pamper ourselves so we can function too for our family. Don’t feel guilty for loving or pampering yourself even once or twice a month. You deserve it.”

Angelina totally agrees with her mom. “Take care of yourself, like never forget to have your hair done once in a while or doing your makeup for fun. Since we’re in the midst of a pandemic right now. I’ve always been at home so even me, I go through phases when I don’t wanna get out of the bed. Or I don’t wanna wash my face or make my bed, which I think is very unhealthy. I learned to keep myself up, pamper myself, even do my makeup even if I’m just gonna be at home. Just to remind myself that I need to love myself, and make myself feel good and pretty. I also believe that self-love is nurturing your passion. Because at the end of the day if you do something that you are passionate about, it will benefit you in the long term. So if you want something, you have to work hard for it– be it self-love or career.”  

“Just be confident with who you are.The number of post likes on social media is not important. At the end of the day, what’s important is the love that our family gives us,” Sunshine added.

Sunshine has indeed found her safe place when it comes to embracing her own person and beauty, which has translated in how she’s raising three beautiful, smart and hardworking goal-getters.  “If you see my photos from 13 years ago, I looked more mature. I was really stick thin. I was exerting so much effort to look good. But I’ve learned that it’s more important for us girls to be happy. Just be happy. Be positive in life, and stay away from toxic people. By doing that, you’ll have a happier outlook in life. That is also the time that we can sleep better at night. I have deep laugh lines and I’m proud of them because I got them from laughing so hard with my daughters. Although my life is not perfect, I’m really happy right now. The fact that I have three beautiful daughters who love and respect me, that’s what matters to me– that’s more than enough,” Sunshine concluded. 

Words & Shoot Concept: Marane Plaza

Photography: Rxandy Capinpin

Styling: Marane Plaza & Kathrina Vapor

Layout Artist: Kathrina Vapor

Makeup: Muriel Vega Perez

Hair: Mark Rosales

Shoot Coordination: Anna Pangalangan

Studio: I Am Abi Studio

Special thanks to Elite Nails and Body Spa, Serenitea, Ready Set Glow Makeup Line & Beauty Secret.


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