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Princess Punzalan Shines Through

In this episode of So True we are joined by Filipino American actress turned nurse, Princess Punzalan. She is part of Diane Paragas’ film “Yellow Rose” – the first Filipino-led movie to be released by a major studio in commercial theaters.

Princess starts with talking about moving to the US from the Philippines in 2005 when she was still at the height of her career as an actress. She says she decided to move to prioritize her marriage; and it didn’t bother her because she knew she could live a simple life. She narrates that she actually found it easy to turn her back on fame and the perks that came along with it.

She credits her upbringing for that, acknowledging her late mother, Helen Vela, who was also an esteemed broadcast personality in the Philippines. According to Princess, her mom instilled in her very early on that being on TV was just a job. Princess adds that from her mother, she also learned to be able to do everything by herself; and not be dependent on help. And she says this hardworking and independent mindset helped her a lot in the US.

Jannelle asks Princess about the difficulties she faced after moving to the US. Funnily, the first thing she remembers is how hard it was to get used to speaking English consistently. She moved into a predominantly white area so it wasn’t common to hear anyone speaking Filipino. It was social media (Friendster at the time) that helped her stay in touch with her roots.

Princess reveals that one of the reasons she didn’t pursue acting in the US is because she was focused on her marriage and starting a family. She says she wanted to look for a job that would enable her to stay with her husband and unfortunately, acting was out of the question, as filming on sets and locations will not work.

“Not everyone who goes through pain will come out of it learning the nuggets of wisdom that came along with the experience,” she says when asked how she was able to adjust in life. And she adds that “having a deep relationship with God” is how she was able to draw strength from Him.

Whenever she makes hard decisions she turns to God.

Princess’ reply when Jannelle asks if there is one thing she would like to impart to people about life in the US – “Never ever compare yourself with others [because] each of us have our own unique journey.” By doing so, she believes that you are putting unnecessary stress on yourself. People are better off appreciating themselves rather than worrying what others are going through.

Princess admits that while she did 1 3-year course on Interior Design, she knew that it was never her passion. She recalls that at a young age, she knew she wanted to become a doctor but she never felt confident enough to pursue Medicine. And moving to the U.S. gave her an opportunity to pursue this field of Medicine – by becoming a nurse. Taking it a step further, she says she chose to become a hospice nurse because she feels comfortable about death and the fact that “life has a beginning and an end.” As a hospice nurse, she wants to help people have a comfortable ending.

After becoming part of “Yellow Rose”, Princess says she started considering acting again. She says she used to think that in order to act she needed to go back to the Philippines but she has realized that doors are opening for her in Hollywood. So she is very excited to be able to do what she loves.

Her message to new immigrants moving to the U.S. from the Philippines and are struggling to adjust to new life here – “Learn how to broaden your horizons. It is never good to dwell on pain and difficulty but rather look at the positive things in life. There will always be negative stuff in life but what pulls you up is feeling grateful about what you have.”

Princess says she is personally grateful for all the love she has around her, the lessons she has learned from her experiences, and for having a mother like Helen.

“Surrounding yourself with people who are able to share words of wisdom and have strong faith is really helpful,” she ends.

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