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Phoemela Baranda during the first day of the History Con 2017 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City on August 10, 2017.

Phoemela Baranda: Back in the spotlight, and in the driver’s seat

Story and photo by Hananeel Bordey / Special to The Market Monitor 

She’s best known to Filipinos as the former entertainment anchor of the ABS-CBN primetime news program TV Patrol, but model-television host Phoemela Baranda is set to add another job title to her extensive resumé—lean and mean car driver— as she represents the Philippines in the second season of History Asia channel’s Celebrity Car Wars

Those following her career—from her joining modeling competitions and appearing in magazines, then later showing up on television in programs that include the primetime soap Pangako sa ‘Yo (2000), to hosting stints on Extra Challenge and The Buzz—may be surprised that she chose an automotive reality series to appear on after being under the proverbial radar for several years. Then again, she has proven to be full of surprises.

In Celebrity Car Wars, 36-year-old Baranda and other Asian media personalities try to outlast each other for eight weeks that are packed with different challenges, with the aim of putting their name in the Celebrity Car Wars Hall of Fame.

“The whole show is a big challenge for me, because we had to do…20 challenges in 10 days, and, of course, (we also) had to be, like, away from home. Ako nga, eh, I’m from here already,” Baranda told The Market Monitor in a one-on-one interview during the History Con 2017 press conference at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City on August 10, 2017.

“These guys (co-stars) are fun to be with, but I think taping the whole show in just 10 days, even for the whole team—(those) behind the scenes, the staff, the crew—it’s also hard for them,” she said.

Though she declined to name a specific challenge, Baranda described the one in Episode 6 of Celebrity Car Wars as “really hard.”

Those who truly know Baranda knows that she, indeed, love cars. Influenced by her male cousins, she took up their hobby—driving—when she was 14. She later started pursuing drag racing until she bought her first car at 17. She then enrolled in a racing school and, later on, joined the Toyota Vios Cup.

“My favorite car was the Toyota Corolla before, but now, of course, I want a…Range Rover,” the media personality said.

Despite her new show, Baranda’s main priority is still her 18-year-old daughter Kim Nichole, whom the star first admitted to having on The Buzz in 2013, and who is now prioritizing her studies after participating in ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) in 2014.

”After doing PBB, she said she wants to finish school, which is, for me, a good thing,” Baranda said.

“I don’t have to push her to go to school. I don’t have to, (unlike) other kids that you have to convince. It’s my gift to her— sending her to a nice school— and I want her to learn and have a diploma tucked under her belt,” she added.

According to her, Kim is in her freshman year taking up industrial design.

“I think she’s enjoying it, and I hope she really pursues it and becomes a very good furniture designer,” the model-TV host said.

Noting that Kim has started vlogging, Baranda said it’s good that millenials have “another platform”—the digital platform—“because they have (the) freedom to do whatever they want.”

Besides Celebrity Car Wars, Baranda is working on local projects under Viva Artists Agency. She also has her show on the Pinoy Box Office (PBO) cable channel, called Anong Ganap?, which covers the latest showbiz happenings.

She hopes that her participation in Celebrity Car Wars would open more doors for her career, and not just that of cars.

Celebrity Car Wars Season 2 airs every Monday starting September 4, 2017 at 9:55 p.m. on the History Asia Channel. 

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