Despite new-found fame & fortune….
Ratonel stays RATIONAL
By Juliana June Rasul
November 06, 2010
PARTIES. Prada. Foie gras.
For heartland girl Sylvia Ratonel, the last 10 months since her Singapore Idol 3 stint has been an education in the finer things in life.
After teasing fans with a Christina Aguilera-type jazzy pop single Fly, performances at charity specials and events and even a TV show, the 22-year-old runner-up of the reality TV singing competition finally released her self-titled debut album last week.
In the months since she started work on it, she’s become a spokesman for Maybelline, and popped up at event parties attended by actors like Edison Chen and Rupert Grint.
It’s a far cry from her days in a one-room rental flat with her family as a child.
But when asked what it feels like to be famous, she innocently asked: ‘Do you really think I’m a household name?’
She still calls herself ‘suaku’ (Hokkien for country bumpkin) for having gone on her first ever holiday only earlier this year.
The furthest she got was Bintan and Bali.
Now, the former hotel secretary earns enough to send her mother on holidays and has spent a big part of her first paycheck on ‘small renovations’ to the three-room HDB flat in Bedok, where she lives with her family.
Ratonel told The New Paper: ‘My mum always wanted new furniture for the house, so we got some, and then we painted the whole house, and we got a new TV, too.’
But while she’s now able to afford a lot more things she couldn’t before, she’s wary of splurging on luxury items because she ‘wasn’t brought up that way’.
Case in point: On the day her album was released, she was out shopping with a friend when they decided to drop in on the Prada and Chanel stores along Orchard Road, but came out empty-handed.
‘I can afford those bags, but I was thinking, ‘Maybe not now’,’ she said. ‘I’d rather save my money to go back to school.’
Her biggest splurge?
A pair of G-Star jeans, which cost $300. And she had to tell her mother a white lie too.
‘I told her it was $100, but she found the receipt,’ the singer recounted.
‘She was like, ‘Sylvia! You spent $300 on jeans?’
Ratonel is clearly attached to her mum, who is currently in the middle of a three-week holiday in Sarawak, paid for by her daughter.
‘I miss her, because nobody’s cooking. I’m such a bad cook.I created a haze situation in my own house the other day when I tried,’ she said.
Her family ties keep her at home, even though she says she can afford to leave behind the bedroom she shares with her two brothers and rent a place elsewhere.
But she’d rather not.
‘My brothers are usually not around anyway, due to work or NS,’ she said. ‘Besides, I just really like being with my family.’
And, it seems she’ll choose friends over celebrities too.
At the recent F1, she stayed at the after-party just long enough to have spotted Edison Chen texting away on his mobile phone at the Formula One Paddock Club.
But even though she was just metres away from Chen, Ratonel admitted she was more starstruck by Grint, who’s famous for playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.
Still, she left the party early.
‘I had promised my friends to go Hari Raya visiting,’ she explained. ‘I’d rather choose friends over that kind of stuff.’
But there are parts of her job that she’s got used to – like eating foie gras, a luxury food item she got a taste for thanks to her hosting stint on the Channel 5 food series Buffetlicious.
‘I used to hate it!’ she insisted. ‘But every restaurant has it. I just had to keep on trying it and after a while I realised it’s not that bad.’
The show has also helped turn her ‘from a junkie to a foodie’, by which she means she’s curbed her fondness for junk food.
Though her slick debut album – produced by musician and former DJ Don Richmond – may open doors for her internationally, Ratonel intends to pursue a university degree.
She’s even picked a course, and an unlikely one though – operations management.
‘I don’t really want a desk job. With operations management, I can be more hands-on,’ she said.
‘I’d love to get my drivers’ licence one day, too,’ she said.
Practical stuff from a budding star, but Ratonel stressed that all these back-up plans she’s making doesn’t mean she’s not serious about her music career.
‘Music is still my first love. I’ll try and prolong it as long as I can,’ she said.
WIN TICKETS TO PARTY
THE New Paper is giving away five pairs of tickets to Sylvia Ratonel’s album launch party at St James Power Station on Nov 26, courtesy of Universal Music.
To win a pair, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and answer this simple question:
What is the title of Sylvia Ratonel’s first single from her self-titled debut album?
The contest ends on Nov 18. Please include your name, e-mail, contact number and NRIC. Winners will be notified via e-mail.
You can also get a pair of tickets to the album launch – buy a copy of the album and RSVP: http://www.getmusic.com.sg