MANILA — Even as a young girl, comedienne Kakai Bautista was forced to come to terms with others’ cruel perception of her appearance.
“Ipalagari mo ‘yung gilagid mo,” she was once told in her childhood, referring to her prominent gums and teeth.
“Naranasan ko ‘yun, na [sabihan na], ‘Walang manliligaw sa ‘yo, ang pangit mo, ‘no.’ Ganoon,” Bautista said in an interview with ABS-CBN Lifestyle.
Bautista would have a steely exterior whenever she would hear harsh comments about her appearance, saying she would not give her bullies the satisfaction of seeing her hurt.
But admittedly, she would crumble in private. “Umiiyak ako habang tumatakbo, pang-pelikula!” she said.
This was still true in her early days in showbiz. She recalled a time when she felt dismissed, and even once became the target of a staff member’s tirade.
“Pumunta ako sa CR, doon ako umiyak nang umiyak. Tapos, okay, punas, ‘Magtrabaho ka na, galingan mo.’ Ginalingan ko!” she said, pointing out that she subsequently had repeated guestings on the same program.
Bautista eventually made a name for herself, and even embraced the moniker, “Dental Diva,” in light of her singing talent and facial features.
“‘Mukha kang kabayo, laki ng ngipin mo, ‘yung gums mo.’ Na-realize ko, oo nga ‘no, pero nagamit ko ‘yon sa magandang paraan. Kumita ako doon ng pera! Thank you!” she said.
With popularity came “bashers” on social media. Whereas as a child, she was confronted with bullying from her playmates and even their parents, now Bautista had to grapple with anonymous accounts.
Numerous times, Bautista would cry not because of the the malicious comments, but out of frustration that she could not answer them.
Eventually, she learned that those unwarranted opinions mattered little, if at all.
“Most ng mga tao na nagsasabi sa ‘yo ng mga ganoong bagay, hindi ka talaga kilala. They don’t know you. They just see you and judge you, but they don’t know you,” she said.
At age 41, Bautista has not only come to terms with the supposed “imperfections” she was always teased about, but now has a firmer grasp of her identity and strengths.
“Kung hindi naman ako na-bully siguro, hindi ako magiging ganito ka-strong. Ang bullying, ang bashing, minsan paraan ‘yan ng universe para makilala mo ang sarili mo,” she said.
“‘Pag nahanap mo na kung sino ka, at kilalang-kilala mo kung sino ka, never ka maaapektuhan sa sasabihin ng tao,” Bautista said.