“They tried to make me like a Simon Cowell! I think because of the outfits and makeup I wore. In fact, the contestants saw me as super intimidating, but I turned out to be a nice one. I was the Paula Abdul one, maybe it’s because I’m a mom,” Cat Arambulo-Antonio dishes out stories from the show in an interview before the exclusive preview of The Apartment: Passion for Design, Sony Channel’s original design reality series last March 13 at Century City Mall in Makati. Cat’s your typical Filipina mom who goes the extra mile just to keep her kittens—kids, we mean—safe and sound, and give them all the best in the world. And that’s exactly how she became the first ever Filipina judge on The Apartment Season 6. “I was on a social media rampage at the time, and I was ranting about something regarding my kids. Then someone from Imagine, the producers, contacted me and asked me if I want to be one of the cast of The Apartment. Originally, they wanted me to be a contestant. I said sure and sent him my information,” Cat recounts how she was selected as part of the show’s panel of judges for the sixth season. “No auditions, nothing. I was just being myself, answering whatever question they threw me,” she adds.
“The space you designed has to speak even without you having to talk”
After a series of Skype calls and meetings with the producers of the show, Imagine Group, Cat didn’t hear anything from the team for quite a while. She admits that she actually forgot about the project until she received another call from the producers of the show, this time with Riaz Mehta, President and Founder of Imagine Group, one month after. “They’re like, ‘We’d love to have you on the show, but you’d be best suited as a judge,” Cat shares. The call made her pack her bags and fly to Malaysia in a week—that quick that she didn’t even had the time to have her outfits custom-made, something she would’ve done being a fashion stylist before she transitioned to interiors. Cat didn’t know that she is the first Filipina judge on the show until the team told her so. “It’s super amazing. It was a really big thing for me. And I’m actually kind of proud of myself that I was able to turn such a bad thing that happened in my life into something positive,” Cat excitedly shares. She admits, though, that she felt the pressure more from her family. “The pressure came more from my family because I have kids and I was gone for about two months. So, I was micromanaging our household through the security cameras. My husband and I would sleep with our computers on, on FaceTime,” she shares.
Despite being away from her family for quite a while, Cat felt very welcome and well-taken care of by her co-judges and the entire The Apartment team. “The team was so easy to work with. This is their 6th season already, so they kind of have it down already. They knew what to do. Painless. I got fat!” Cat exclaims. “They’re the best; so nice, so welcoming!”
While Cat becomes a loving mother cat when she sees the contestants, she’s really strict when it comes to judging design on the show. She puts a huge stress on the totality of the group’s design and the minute details that make up the overall look of the spaces. “To us judges, it’s really about aesthetics, then you narrow it down to the details—the color palette, flooring material, the furniture pieces. How does it look in general? How do the details bring out the personality of the space? What in this space resembles you? Whose idea was it? Basically, the space you designed has to speak even without you having to talk.”
Motherly but feisty, Cat Arambulo’s personality really adds spice to this year’s season of The Apartment. And as much as we’re excited to meet the contestants and find out who’s Asia’s next interior design superstar, we’re definitely looking forward to seeing Cat when the show premieres in the Philippines.