Hong Kong heart-throb Kevin Cheng has been linked to no end of beautiful women over the years. But only one woman has remained firmly in his heart - his mother.
More than two years ago, he posted a black-and- white photograph of an elegant beauty on social media platform Weibo and wrote: "The beauty in my eyes... my mum..."
When asked about the picture in an interview over the telephone, he says: "Did you see the photo? Do you think she's beautiful?"
On hearing confirmation, the actor-singer laughs and says: "I didn't think so when I was young. After all, mother is mother. But years later - when I was already in show business - I had met many entertainers in the flesh and I didn't think there was anyone as beautiful as she was in her youth."
And this was back in the day when flattering Instagram filters did not exist.
"You couldn't touch up photos and making trips to South Korea for plastic surgery was not popular then," says Cheng, 45, in Mandarin.
He will be performing at a Mother's Day concert here on May 10 with fellow Hong Kong artists, including Myolie Wu, Benny Chan, Nancy Sit and Teresa Mo.
Perhaps his close relationship with his mother, who reportedly is originally from Shanghai, was fostered by the fact that he had to be the man of the family in his early 20s after his father died from a stroke.
"I was the only son, so it was time for me to start earning money," says Cheng, who had just signed a recording contract with PolyGram in 1993 when he had returned to Hong Kong for summer vacation. He was then studying at California State University in Los Angeles.
He adds: "I thought by staying on in Hong Kong, I could keep my mother company and also start my career. I was worried that the chance might not come in the future."
He did not complete his civil engineering degree and he has no regrets about that.
Things did not go smoothly when he was chasing his singing dream in Taiwan in his early show business years.
He ended up penniless and "almost didn't have enough money for food".
He swallowed his pride and called his mother, who had been urging him to switch careers.
It was with her financial help that he made it through the darkest days of his show business career.
What was the music industry's loss was the television industry's gain as he turned to acting and eventually saw his star rise with hit series such as lighthearted romantic drama Under The Canopy Of Love (2006) and legal drama Ghetto Justice (2011).
While he says he has not paid her back, he has since reportedly bought her a luxurious mansion.
He now sees himself primarily as an actor, but still enjoys the opportunities he gets to sing.
"The reaction you get on stage is immediate, whereas after filming, you still have to wait for it to be aired. You can get addicted to the sound of applause," he adds.
Given the importance of his mother in his life, you would expect that the eligible bachelor would have to get her okay for any potential partner.
He says with a laugh: "At this stage, she would have no problems with anyone willing to marry me. Grandchildren are more important to her."
MOTHER'S DAY SPECIAL HONG KONG SUPERSTARS IN CONCERT
Where: Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre Level 6, Halls 601 - 604
When: Sunday, 7.30pm
Admission: $48 to $168 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
This article was first published on May 7, 2015.
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