The Mothers of the stars

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THE latest entertaining fantasy show for Kapuso fans is Luna Blanca. Every weeknight at primetime, viewers young and old are riveted by the small screen, captivated by another mystical TV series. The story is about twin sisters Luna and Blanca whose appearances are completely different from each other; Luna being dark and Blanca fair-skinned. The program is GMA's first multi-generational drama where we will follow the twins' lives from childhood to adulthood. The twins as children are played by Jillian Ward and Mona Louise Rey and their friend Toti is portrayed by Arkin Magalona.

During the press conference for Luna Blanca, I had the opportunity to meet personally some of the Kapuso stars involved in the series. They were the sophisticated Chynna Ortaleza, the sweet-faced Camille Pratts, perky Barbie Forteza, smart Buboy Villar, rosy-cheeked and angelic Arkin Magalona, and the cute-as-a-button 7-year-olds Jillian and Mona Louise.
The children were with their mothers and it was a good time for me to sit down and get to know the women behind these popular young artists.

Jillian Ward's mother is 27-year-old Jennifer Ward Penzon who happens to have relatives in Bacolod. She is related to the Claridads of Villamonte on her mother's side. Follow our conversation below.


Kaleidoscope: When did Jillian start in showbiz?

Jennifer: In June of 2010.

K: Did you encourage her to go into show business?

J: No. She really wanted to become an actress. (Jillian started as a commercial model.)

K: Weren't you apprehensive that she'd join that industry?

J: Wala naman. Sabi ko sige, let's [give it a] try.

K: How are things so far?

J: Okay naman except may mga conflicts with her school schedule at times. Now, she studies with a tutor. Nag-home schooling siya.

Jennifer beams and gushes with pride for her precocious daughter. "She's different talaga. She'd be doing something at the same time listening to music. Nag-mumulti-tasking."

K: Did she undergo any workshop before she plunged into acting?

J: When she started wala siyang experience sa workshop. She just learned on her own especially since veteran actors ang kasama niya. Hanggang ngayon walang workshop. Siya lang ang nag-improvise ng scenes.

K: Are you a stage mother?
J: (She laughs.) Sometimes stage mother. Hindi maiiwasan. But not all the time. [I] can't hide that fact anyway.

When I asked Jennifer her mothering style she replied, "I guide her. Sometimes, I get mad at her. She's just a kid. Wala namang perfect. I just talk to her. I don't spank her kaya takot siya sa akin kasi I don't spank her."

Jillian's parents get involved deeply with her upbringing. Her father acts as her chauffeur and bodyguard. ("Matutukan niya ang bata. Maaasikaso niya.") With their daughter's earnings, the Penzons bought a piece of land two months ago and construction of Jillian's house just started with her earnings in commercials financing this project.

Jennifer makes sure that Jillian never works during the weekends. Weekdays, 4-5 hours a day is the average working time although sometimes work demands that she exceed this working time.

K: How do you see your daughter someday especially as a teen in showbiz?

J: Ayokong magsalita ng patapos but Jillian will grow up to be obedient. She promised me that she'll be good when she grows up.

Our sunshine-y personality wants to be a doctor. That is her biggest dream, according to Jennifer. "Iba pa rin ang life na normal," she said when we discussed the possibility of Jillian being in show business forever. Being a doctor is an accomplishment for her.

"She wants to help people. I teach her to save her money by telling her that if she has savings, she can hold free clinics for her patients someday." Jennifer's little girl prays every night. "Hindi pwedeng matutulog na hindi nagpre-pray. I'd tell her that if she doesn't pray, bangungutin siya."

I call Jillian and ask her what she prays for. She answered, "Sana happy family. Good health." Then, with all the candor of a child, proceeds to pray the Lord's Prayer. What a fitting end to my interview!

Mona Louise Rey's mother Fatima Marbella Al-Alawi and I also had an interesting chat. Mona Louise was first seen in Munting Heredera which started airing in April last year. She is a sweet-natured kid and has the good looks of her mother and her Middle-Eastern father.

Fatima met Mona's father in Bahrain where she worked in a five-star hotel as a cashier. Mona has two siblings. As a born-again Christian, Fatima stresses that Mona is taught good values. "I teach her that what you plant you reap. That's why, dapat good ka palagi."

Fatima makes sure she's always with Mona. Is she a stage mother, then? "Stage mother? Palagay ko." But she also says that she doesn't force her daughter to do things. Her presence is enough comfort and assurance of her support for Mona.

How does she care for her daughter? "Ako naman, kung ano ang gusto niya binibigay ko sa kanya. Kahit hindi pa siya artista may bahay na kami, may kotse …"

Would she want Mona to get a college degree? "Yes, iba kasi pag nakatapos siya ng college. Mataas ang grades niya. Kahit i-compare mo sa kids na palagi sa school." She points out to the fact that her daughter at times has to deal with work and cannot attend school as regularly as possible.
I asked Mona what she wants to be when she grows up. With conviction in her voice, she answered, "I wanna be a Hollywood singer! A Hollywood actress!" Go, Mona, go!

My last (and quick) interview was with Pia Magalona, Arkin's pretty mom. Six of her children are in show business. There's Maxine, Elmo, Frank, Saab, Arkin and, now, Clara who was named Ambassador of Goody ("She's a Goody girl!") and awarded Junior Style Star of Candy Magazine, the youngest recipient at 11 years old.

Are the children a handful? It seems not. "It's the scheduling, actually. I'm a mom of 6 popular kids." What does she do to keep them on the right path? "I tell other parents to encourage their children to pursue their interests. It keeps them (children) busy also and keeps them away from bad influence. I tell my kids to choose the right friends." And, she adds, "Communication is key."

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 05, 2012.


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