And why not? The wait for this baby has been long. starting from the time the staid and promising lawyer from the Pangilinan clan married the Mega Queen of Philippine movies in simple and exclusive rites almost four years ago. The baby had been expected to spice up the couple's Boston sojourn where Kiko had to finish a Master's program in Public Administration at Harvard.
And the wait was not without pain and sadness, as Sharon suffered through two miscarriages. But now all that is the proverbial water under the bridge and the megastar is gloriously five months pregnant (as of this writing). While the pregnancy and delivery and subsequent motherhood are expected to slow down
Sharon's showbiz pace, Kiko's career in the limelight is a-bursting, what with the launch of a new Public Affairs program on Channel 2. Add this to his regular radio show over DZMM and the buzz that he will be campaigning soon for a senatorial seat.
But career and politics still take a backseat to family for this wholesome couple, who are already parents to teener KC, Sharon's daughter in her first marriage to former matinee idol, now U.S.-based, Gabby Concepcion. And as it was in all her films and TV programs, the fans and followers of Sharon, and now Kiko's too, are all agog for that big day in December when the Mega baby comes into the world.
Here in their pre-baby arrival appearance are Sharon in a Q&A and Kiko in a separate feature.
Family Today (FT): How does it feel to be pregnant? How would you compare this pregnancy to the first one you had? Are you going through special classes to prepare you for childbirth?
Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan (SCP): This pregnancy's been quite difficult to handle from day one, owing to the fact that I am in the 'high-risk' category. I had lost two babies prior to this one, so we took all the necessary precautions to insure a healthy pregnancy. With KC, I just had a ball the whole nine months! I was able to do two movies, go on co-hosting GMA Supershow, record some songs, etc. - basically everything was normal except for my growing tummy. Well, I was nineteen when I had KC, and I'm going to have my second child probably just before my 35th birthday, so of course there's just no comparing what a nineteen-year-old body can take to what a 34-year-old can! I am not into any classes in preparation for childbirth. Even with KC, all I had to make me feel prepared aside from my prayers was some Lamaze breathing exercises which I had learned from Director Marilou Diaz-Abaya. She taught me these exercises when I had some workshop sessions with her for the movie Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin, wherein I was going to shoot a scene supposedly giving birth. They helped a lot.
FT: Does the prospect of caring for an infant again daunt you? What would you do now that you were not able to do when caring for KC?
SCP: It doesn't daunt me at all. I am, in fact, excited! I can't wait to see and hold this baby in my arms. Kiko, KC and I had waited so long. I will do just what I did when I had KC, but now I see that there are lots of new stuff for caring for my baby that weren't available 15 years ago, so I am excited to use them, too.
FT: What are the basic tenets of motherhood, or parenthood, that you hold on to, that guide you in your family life?
SCP: That there is no more noble profession in the world than motherhood. Parenting is such a huge responsibility that the more mature and prepared you are, the better. You try your best to instill the best values in your children, and you just don't stop actively watching them grow to make sure you are able to guide them into adulthood. But in the end, when they have spread their wings and developed their own personality, you just have to trust in the way you brought them up. Also, I believe that the best gift I can give my children is their faith in God. Once that's set, everything is bound to follow right. Education is the next best thing.
FT: Being in a very public career as show business, have you found yourself compromising some of the ideals of parenthood that you adhere to?
SCP: Probably just my time, but NEVER my ideals. Ideals are what keep you focused, and if you lose sight of them that's when trouble starts. I am an actor, moving around in a world where morals are perceived to be loose, but I have tried my best not to compromise my values just to "fit into" the business. If this weren't my job, the only thing that would be different in the way I have lived my private life is an incredible increase in privacy! And in time spent together with my family.
FT: What kind of home atmosphere awaits your baby? What are the things that KC is preparing for wit the arrival of the new baby?
SCP: I take pride in my home running the way I'd envisioned it to (not really being the way I had, though, as I wish my kitchen and garden were bigger!). And right now, we are starting to fix up the baby's room! So that's a lot of fun. Our home is me and my family's sanctuary, and it is open only to very close friends and family, as well as close associates in work, that I really don't appreciate callers who come unannounced. This is where Kiko and I want to see our children grow up, so it is precious. It is full of love and is not a "showcase" - in spite of its size, every part of the house is used. It is a home, mess (only in some rooms) and all! Right now, there is an air of excitement over the nearing arrival of the little one - much like Christmas, it feels. Our family is most important to Kiko and me, and that is felt all around the house! Being used to having a baby cousin around, KC's taking it easy with the idea of her sibling coming soon, but is excited as well.
FT: How do you see your lifestyle changing with the new baby? Will you be doing less work?
SCP: I see my lifestyle changing significantly with the baby's arrival as he or she is all we will be thinking about and attending to at home! Of course I'll be doing less work, but just like now, not too many movies in a year. The show though, will go on, and possibly a few concerts will push through. I will not stop completely (I look forward to bringing my baby along with me to work!), though of course I will be spending more time at home.
FT: Will you continue with your TV program after giving birth? How long will you be on maternity leave? Will Kiko go on paternity leave?
SCP: That is the question that's been in my director Rowell Santiago's head for a couple of months now! Probably a month, but the show's being taken care of right now in preparation for my not being available at once. Kiko can't go on paternity leave, but how I wish he could!!
FT: What are your dreams for your children? What are your fears for them?
SCP: Just that they grow up to be good people inside and out. That's really all that matters, right? I will be supportive of what they want to make of their lives when they're olden, and will always be here for them, guiding them every step of the way. My fear is that they are going to grow up in a world that is becoming increasingly evil and complicated. Also that no matter how well you bring them up, they might be influenced by "friends" who have nothing good to impart to them.
FT: What do you think about the threats that confront Filipino families today?
SCP: That they can overcome, beaten. It is just scary that some people don't give as much importance to the little (but powerful, basic) family unit, which is really the foundation for a great society. Technology is so advanced and most everything nowadays is "instant" - and some people, unfortunately, seem to think that so should real life be. It is so easy to change your mind, to be selfish and throw away even that which should be the most valuable. But with faith in God and prayers and a little patience, things can be made right. All within reason, of course (like hanging in there if your husband isn't acting like Adolf Hitler's twin brother anyway!)
FT: Surely the children of Sharon Cuneta are considered celebrities and the arrival of your child will be a media event, how do you and your husband plan to deal with this?
SCP: This has got to be one of the most prayed for babies in history! For this reason, we feel that it is also to a certain extent, going to be the public's baby. We have received kind letters of support and prayers all over the last two years, and are grateful that even complete strangers have been concerned about us having a child, about our family. As long as our baby is normal and healthy, and is still protected, then we are fine.
FT: Have you and Kiko already thought of a name for the baby?
SCP: Right now there are many going through our minds! Haven't really settled on one or two.
FT: Will you breastfeed?
SCP: Yes, I will, as I did with KC. But I will also be giving my baby formula.
KIKO PANGILINAN: THE BLISS OF FATHERHOOD
by Tina Gomez, Family Today, September 16-30, 2000
Before the additional fame brought by his marriage to Philippine cinema's one and only megastar, Sharon Cuneta, Francis Pangilinan was already a star in his own right. He was a student leader at the University of the Philippines, a local public servant, one of the anchors of the hit public service show Hoy Gising and, to top them all, a Public Administration graduate of Harvard.
The man is blessed - with genius, talent and good opportunities. But the biggest blessing in Francis Pangilinan's life will only be realized come December of this year.
Kiko is going to be a dad-finally-hopefully. "Although I treat KC (Sharon's daughter from her first marriage) as my own, ngayon lang talaga ako magkakaroon ng sanggol. So, I'm really excited," says the expectant father. Kiko and wife, Sharon, have been trying to have a child since they got married in 1997.
Sharon first got pregnant while the family was in Boston. They were there for a year while Francis was finishing his Master's degree in Public Administration at Harvard. They had the good news of Sharon's pregnancy announced right away to their family and friends in the Philippines. But in a matter of days, Sharon had a miscarriage.
"That was a roller coaster ride. Mabilis masyado yung mga pangyayari kaya masyado ring masakit yung experience na 'yon." Kiko tried to console his wife out of the very sad event. "I told her that this (trial) will only make our relationship stronger."
The couple tried again. When they got back to the Philippines, Sharon lost another baby. Still, Francis was undaunted. "I'd like to think that any trial builds character, tests you and challenges you. You either rise to the challenge or you collapse under it. I'd rather be with the former. My marriage will be strengthened by this difficult experience and we will learn from it," he says.
Aside from his admirable attitude in facing a great amount of difficulty, it also helped that Kiko had someone he was able to relate with. "My older brother and his wife also had two miscarriages and they now have three children. I saw the suffering my brother went through, but eventually the babies started coming one after the other," Kiko relates, "So I was also hopeful. It was not like the end of the world. I thought that there has to be some purpose for this."
Also, because of the couple's faith in God and in the doctors who had told them not to lose hope, never did they think that they were not truly fated to have their won baby.
Again, Sharon got pregnant. This time, the couple received the news with mixed feelings of happiness, excitement and fear. "Fearful because, are we going the same route? Will we again have another painful miscarriage?" Kiko explains.
The fear made them more cautious with the pregnancy. And the result has been very pleasing. Sharon is now five months on the family way. "You are somehow tempered by the fact that anything can happen, pero masaya. So far, our pregnancy has been very good. Our weekly trips to the doctor have been okay, the signs are good." To prevent further troubles, the couple had decided to limit Sharon's career engagements to her weekly TV show.
Meanwhile, there are the perennial pregnancy hitches the expectant father has to deal with. "Laging akong hinahanap, hanggang ngayon," Kiko relates, "She's always looking for me and she always wants me beside her. Every time I was about to leave the house, she would always ask what time I'll be back and how long I would take." So far, he has been handling his wife's idiosyncrasies quite well. "Okay lang naman, it's part of this whole pregnancy process and because we really want this pregnancy to go full term, we will deal with all of these things squarely."
Sharon has had an ultrasound but she wouldn't share the details with her husband. "Although may mga indications na it's a girl. Ayaw kasing ipakita eh." In any case, gender is no big issue to the excite dad-to-be. "This is my first baby so whether it's a girl or a boy, basta health at normal ang delivery, safe si Sharon at safe yung baby."
Kiko is also aware of the glitches that would come his way as soon as the baby is born. However, he is quick to say that he is not scared of the impending sleepless nights that are to be spent nursing the baby. "I'm a very experiential person and for me, if having to get up at two o'clock in the morning is necessary to experience being a father in the real sense of the word, I don't mind. That is the role I'm going to be playing for this child and I want to play my role well."
Kiko is also fortunate that he has had a very good parental orientation to base on. His own parents were very good examples of proper child rearing, proof being all of the Pangilinan kids growing up as achievers in their specific fields. "They were parents who were present and very supportive," he says of his Daddy Dony and Mommy Eva. "Despite how busy they were, they always took time to really attend to family concerns. And they inspired us to do our best, and to give our all in whatever it is that we undertake."
Somehow, Kiko has already been putting what he has learned from his parents into good use. He has taken the role of KC's father since he and Sharon got married. And dad and daughter have been very close since. Kiko makes it a point that KC is a part of almost every special moment in the couple's married life. It was KC who actually came up on stage with Kiko when he received his diploma in Harvard.
For a long time, the sweet and pretty teenager has been their only baby in the family. Now, she will have to make room f or another. Not t hat she minds. Because of her parents' commendable way of making her understand this approaching change, KC feels nothing but excitement for the birth of her new sibling. "I make it a point to make sure that she is always kept abreast of the situation," says Kiko. "After two miscarriages, I think she's also somehow experienced the pain and the difficulty that we went through. Now, she's happy and excited about the prospects of having a younger sibling."
Kiko and Sharon make KC aware of the significant role she'll be playing for the baby. "We tell her that she's going to be the Ate. And that this baby is going to look up to her and she will be taking part in raising this kid and making sure that this kid will grow up to be a good person."
It is a mere four months before their date in the delivery room, and Kiko's overwhelming excitement for that big day is not to be understated. It is a mystery how amidst his expectant heart, Kiko could even squeeze in his enthusiasm for his new show and, as he confessed, still find time to contemplate on weather or not he would run for public service.
Francis Pangilinan's life has been overflowing with blessings. One of them he feels grateful for every time he wake up in the morning. "You know, when you come to that point when you want to get married, you have all these expectations and all these hopes about married life that will get you to decide that yes, I want to marry this person. After more than four years, it's exactly what I expected and hoped for, and more."
After the baby is born, life would go on as usual - only having more significance with t he addition of a new angel. Kiko and Sharon would still be the off-cam lovie-dovies, laughing themselves tired until they fall asleep - but then they'll have two kids on the bed with them. When that time comes, wouldn't Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's blessed life transform to bliss?
©1998-2002 Sharon C. Pangilinan. All rights reserved.
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