Before becoming one of the most famous actors of his generation, Joshua Garcia was just a partner to Reina Forteza-Abrigonda during a “sagala,” also known as Santacruzan, in Batangas.
How did their encounter happen?
Reina found herself trending on Facebook after she shared a picture of her with the then-14-year-old future actor who became her “instant escort” when she participated in the sagala as a muse.
Sagala is a traditional parade or procession participated by young men and women who don attires representing the characters of Santacruzan.
“Kung alam ko lang na sisikat ka, sana pala sumagala na tayo simula Batangas City hanggang Mabini,” she captioned her post with a laughing-with-tears emoji.
Reina’s post has earned 240,000 love and laughing reactions and over 55,000 shares on the social networking platform so far.
According to her, the sagala photo was taken during the feast of San Roque, Bauan, Batangas at that time.
The date was Aug. 16, 2012, two years before the future actor would join the reality show “Pinoy Big Brother: All In” which would catapult him into the showbiz industry.
Reina, who was then 13 years old, said she was not supposed to have a partner or an escort in the sagala.
“Then, may nagtanong lang po sa aking ina na kung papayag daw po ba na may escort ako sa pag-sagala,” she told Balita.
Reina added that she did not know Joshua, saying it was her first encounter with the teenager who is from the municipality of Bauan.
She said that her mother agreed for her to have a partner for the sagala.
“Nagulat na lang po kami ng mother ko noong lumapit sa akin ‘yung magiging escort ko, napakapogi po pala,” Reina was quoted as saying.
“Doon ko lang po siya nakilala. Actually, headturner na po talaga siya no’n. Malakas ang appeal. Mas napansin pa nga po siya kaysa sa akin eh,” the 24-year-old industrial engineer said.
Reina further described Joshua as “matangkad, gentleman, maputi, at pogi na po talaga siya that time” in an interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal.
She said that he was a “gentleman” since he would constantly fan her as they walked for the festivity.
“Nagka-proper introduction na lang po kami noong naglalakad na po kami nung Santacruzan,” Reina told PEP.
“Nagkatanungan na lang po kami ng name, age, ganon po, and kung saan napasok [na school],” she added.
“And ‘yung ibang naging usapan habang naglalakad ay ‘di ko na po tanda. Sobrang tagal na din po kasi,” Reina continued.
She said that when she saw Joshua on television as a “PBB” participant, she bragged about her encounter with him in the sagala.
“Una ko po siyang nakita sa PBB. Masayang-masaya po at niyabang ko po ‘yun sa mga kamag-anak ko na naging escort ko siya sa sagala. Hahaha!” Reina shared.
She said that that was her first and last encounter with Joshua.
Reina is now married and with a child.
Joshua, meanwhile, is now one of the country’s leading heartthrobs.
“Joshua! Sana natatandaan mo pa ako. Nagpapasalamat ako na pumunta ka ng San Roque noong fiesta sa amin dati, nagkaroon tuloy ako ng instant escort that time na napakapogi,” Reina said in a message to the actor.
“I hope masaya ka sa mga nangyayari at sa mga naging desisyon mo sa buhay. Nandito lang kami palagi ng mga supporters mo para sa’yo. Happy Valentine’s Day!” she added.