Second Episode: The Leni Robredo Podcast Raising Daughters with Bianca Gonzalez
VP LENI: Ako si Leni Robredo and welcome to the second episode of The Leni Robredo Podcast! Halika, kuwentuhan tayo. This is the second part of our first podcast session kung saan naging guest natin si Ms. Bianca Gonzalez—isang napakahusay na host, writer, content creator, wife and mother. Last time, napag-usapan namin ang journey ng mga career namin sa buhay. This time naman pag-uusapan namin ang aming roles bilang mga ina and what it’s like to raise daughters.
[continuation of discussion]
VP LENI: Pero sa akin, Bianca, mayroon pa tayong shine-share in common. And iyong shine-share natin in common, we have daughters, ‘di ba. You have two, I have three. So iyong tanong ko: how is it for you having daughters?
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Ang sarap, first of all. And I think I’m in the masarap stage pa talaga because they’re two years old and five years old so it’s the cute na cute—
VP LENI: Best, best years. [chuckles]
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Amoy baby stage pa. Of course may mga moments na nagwawala sila and like it’s hard to deal and you lose your cool. But in general, talagang it’s the sarap age. I do admit that prior to getting pregnant, in my head, for some reason, I had this idea na feeling ko I would have two boys as kids.
VP LENI: Oh my god. [chuckles]
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Yeah, in my head, for some reason parang we have that, like iyong mga instinct instinct. So akala ko talaga two boys. So when I was pregnant with my first, I was like, “sure ako. Boy ako. Boy.” Then ultrasound says girl. Same thing with the second one, sure ako boy na talaga ito. And then girl again. But I think, again, God meant me to have two daughters talaga and I love it. I am taking it one day at a time and I often look at young women I look up to and I always think, “Grabe, how did her parents raise her? Gusto ko—parang sana I can do a job like that.” So, you, how did you raise three responsible, smart, empathetic, kind daughters?
VP LENI: Alam mo, Bianca, ang funny kasi baliktad tayo. Ako, I always knew I would have two daughters. Parang deep inside, I knew I wouldn’t have a son. Parang ako, alam ko two daughters pero akala ko stop na ako at two daughters. So when I became pregnant with Jillian, ang feeling ko son na siya. So ako, alam mo iyon, iyong maternity dresses ko blue, etc. Parang ang feeling ko son na. Tapos iyong nag-u-ultrasound sa amin, kasama na—kasi Couples for Christ kaming mag-asawa. Kasama namin siya sa Couples for Christ, iyong doctor. Sinasabi niya sa asawa, “Brod, magsisinungaling na ba ako?” So sinabi namin, “Oh my god, babae na ulit!” So alam mo iyon, I always wanted daughters. Ako, I always wanted daughters pero for the third, I wanted to have a son. Pero alam mo when I was given a third daughter, parang sobrang… sobrang alam talaga ng Diyos kung ano iyong kailangan mo. So iyong sa akin, Bianca, I was so young when I had Aika. I was only 23. So what did I know about being a mother? So alam mo parang si Aika iyong nagturo sa akin how to be a mother? So parang, ngayon kasi nakikita ko with my pamangkins, parang sobrang alam na nila kung anong gagawin. Pero sa akin noon, parang touch-and-go. Pero iyong nakita ko lang, ano ba iyong mga ginawa ko na hindi ko nakita na halimbawa, sa friends ano iyong ginawa—sobrang tutok ako.
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Tutok?
VP LENI: Tutok na tutok ako as a mother. So parang, hindi tiger mom in the sense na sobrang istrikto pero I was with them—parang iyong quantity time talaga, I was studying—kasi I took up Law when I was…
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Yeah, because you were in Law school!
VP LENI: Yes! And I was teaching. I was teaching during the day, I was in Law school at night. Pero sa akin, every free time I really spent with my daughters. So sa akin, I think iyong number one sa akin iyong presence. Talagang involved ako sa kanila every step of the way. I mean, may mga yaya sila pero ako talaga lahat. Halimbawa pati sa pagtu-tutor, pag-aaral, ako iyon, parang many things were possible because we were in Naga. So everywhere was five minutes away. So I was their driver. I didn’t have a driver before so when they would go to school, I would drive them to school. They would go home for lunch so I will pick them up, bring them to school again. Tapos iyong mga anak ko kasi may sports iyon at saka music, eh. So they were swimmers, they would do piano, violin, ako iyong lahat na kasama. So iyong sasakyan ko, Bianca, kapag uwian na, iyong una Starex iyong sasakyan ko punong-puno iyan. Tapos pinalitan ko ng Innova, alam mo iyon, may snacks, kasi makakauwi kami mga 9 o’clock in the evening na kasi may swim training. Kapag nagsu-swim training sila—I was already a practicing lawyer at that time—pero nagsu-swim training sila, iyong mga assignments nila tinitingnan ko na. Gagawan ko na ng mga outline. Iyong mga outline na ginagawa ko color coded kasi kulang iyong time nilang mag-aral kasi may sports sila, eh. They would train three hours everyday. So sa akin, ako iyon lahat. Ako iyon lahat. And I think ano ako, parang I was the one who pushed them to excel. Hindi excel relative to other people pero parang to always do their best in what they were doing. Halimbawa, nagpa-piano sila. During practices, bantay ako. Tapos—parang ano, parang I was with them every step of the way. Nagsu-swimming sila mayroon akong timer. Kabahagi ako sa—ako, you should know kasi your husband is an athlete, ‘di ba. It requires a lot of discipline. So iyong sa akin, ganoon ako. Na alam mo iyon, halimbawa iyong swim nila ngayon was one second slower than their swim yesterday. So sasabihin ko, “ano kaya—ano iyong nangyari?” [laughter] So I think, sobrang—ako tingin ko I was… Hindi ko sinasabi na iyon dapat iyong formula pero I think parang naging stronger iyong bond namin ng mga bata because of that. Na I was involved in their day-to-day. I was working so nakikita nila ako na after nila gumawa ng mga assignments, magtatrabaho pa ako. Tatrabahuin ko pa iyong aking mga pleadings. When I was still studying Law, nag-aaral ako. So I think, iyon din, naging studious sila because of that. Parang iyong children naman learn sa nakikita nila, hindi sa naririnig, eh. Iyon iyong aking pinaka-lesson na I’m not the preachy type of parent. Hindi ako ma-preach. Pero siguro because of the everyday na nakikita nila, iyon, everyday na nakikita, so na-a-assimilate nila. So halimbawa, maraming nagtatanong, “how did you raise such, parang ano, strong-willed na mga bata?” Ako, siguro kasi nakita nila sa akin. Nakita nila na while they were growing up, I was defending farmers in court. You know, karamihan sa mga kliyente ko iyong mga naapi. Iyong mga, alam mo iyon, iyong mga walang-wala. So—eh lakasan ng loob kapag ganoon so nakikita nila. Pero it’s not like tinuruan ko sila. It’s not like, alam mo iyon, na I would spend time to teach them na, “this is right. This is wrong.” I never did that kasi sobrang busy ko. Pero sa akin, sa kabusy-han ko, parati kong bitbit iyong mga anak ko. It also paid na my husband was a very present dad in the sense na my work would bring me to communities and I would need to stay there three, four days in a row and my husband would be father and mother even if he was a politician already. So ako, sabi ko nga, I follow you and I see na your husband is also a very present dad, ‘di ba. So I think kapag ganoon, balanse—mas balanse iyong personality ng mga bata. I think, the most important gift that we can give to our children is iyong sense of security nila. That they are secure in the love of their parents. So iyong mga anak ko ganoon, hindi ako palalabas. Kaming mag-asawa, hindi kami palalabas and I never had problems with my daughters. Halimbawa when Aika was in Ateneo—
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Walang sakit sa ulo?
VP LENI: Wala, wala. When Aika was in Ateneo, she was in the dorm for four years. Nasa Eleazo siya for four years kasi nakatira pa kami sa Naga. And I remember her asking me, “Mama, ano iyong curfew ko?” So ang sabi ko sa kaniya, “Wala kang curfew. Basta alam ko kung nasaan ka at saka huwag kang magta-taxi nang mag-isa.” So after she graduated already, sabi niya sa akin, “Mama alam mo ba, ako lang sa friends ko iyong walang curfew.” Parang sa akin, it never reached a point na takot ako. Takot ako na may mangyari sa kanila dati sa taxi kasi wala pa noong mga Grab, ‘di ba. Walang Uber, walang Grab. So sinasabi ko na na, “huwag kang mag-taxi. Mag-jeep ka na lang pero huwag kang—na solo. Na solo.” So iyong sa akin, none of my daughters are palalabas. Ang gusto kong sabihin, kapag nagpaalam silang may lakad sa gabi, tuwang-tuwa ako. Until now ha, na, “Uy, may lakad ka ngayon!” Oo. Parang I never had problems with that. And I think that’s because ganoon din kaming mag-asawa. Iyon nga, parang ako, tingin ko na-a-assimilate talaga iyon. Pero relaxed—I don’t know what kind of a mother you are, Bianca, pero ako relaxed lang ako, eh. Hindi ako uptight. Ang gusto kong sabihin, mayroon kasi akong mga cousins before na ayaw marumihan iyong anak, na alam mo iyon, na kapag pinagpapawisan nagpapanic na kasi baka matuyuan ng pawis—I’m not that kind of mother. Ako I just let them be. Nag-aano ito, naglalaro sila sa buhangin, okay lang.
Tapos my daughters also have a very special relationship with their dad. In fact, noong nabubuhay pa iyong asawa ko, parang good cop, bad cop kami. Ako iyong bad [cop]. [laughs]
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Of course. We can relate to that 100 percent. Eh kasi iba talaga ang daughters sa daddy. Parang talo sila, hindi nila kaya.
VP LENI: Yes. So sa inyo, ikaw rin iyong nagdidisiplina?
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Oo, super bad cop. And I think, I’m like you that I’m relaxed in terms of like kapag maglalaro, marurumihan, being out there, getting hurt, getting dapa and things like that. But I am medyo strict sa schedule, ganiyan. Time to sleep, time to eat, ganiyan, diyan ako talagang medyo mas—parang for the routine and flow of the day.
VP LENI: That’s okay. [laughs] Sa amin din. So sa amin, iyong pag—parang iyong dad nila iyong savior nila. Iyon iyong savior nila. Pero ako dati, Bianca, hindi ako ano, halimbawa iyong mga classmates na iba ng mga anak ko, bawal iyong TV during weekdays, mga ganoon. Ako, hindi. Sa akin dati, and I don’t know if okay iyon, pero sa akin maluwag din ako pagdating doon. Pero para sa akin halimbawa, nagpa-piano sila, “magpa-practice kayo everyday.” Tapos hindi ako pumapayag na—halimbawa may mga exams, gustong ma-miss iyong swim training, hindi ako pumapayag. So para sa akin, iyong disiplina, iyong disiplina about it, iyong ayaw ko iyong naghahanap ng parang excuse. Although maluwag ako pero parang hindi nila ako nalulusutan na halimbawa, halimbawa noong college, so sinasabi ko sa kanila, parang wala akong—“wala kayong grades na kailangang abutin. Parang you don’t have to graduate with honors. Pero huwag akong makakakita ng parang incomplete na grade.” Kasi feeling ko, parang katamaran na hindi ka nag-comply sa requirements. So sa akin, mas discipline iyong aking… Tapos iyong dati, ang tinitingnan kong una iyong grade nila sa conduct. Sabi ko, kung may bumaba sa academics, parang hindi ako kasing—hindi ako magpa-panic masyado. Pero kung bumagsak iyong grade ko sa conduct, parang doon ako magpa-panic. So iyong mga ganoon na pamantayan.
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Yeah. I’m not yet there. I’m not yet in the report card age but noted on all that. I will—day by day again, enjoying the baby stage din ako.
VP LENI: Yeah. Alam mo iyong ages ng mga anak mo, those are the best. Kasi you still have them, parang they’re not so little anymore that you get to interact with them already. So kapag tumatanda na iyong mga bata iyon iyong sasabihin mo, “Sana maliit ka na lang ulit.” [laughs]
BIANCA GONZALEZ: [laughs] Lalo na now you have graduates, you have frontliners, my goodness.
VP LENI: Pero it’s so nice to have daughters, Bianca. Ano talaga siya—and I’m sure you know that kasi you had a sister also. And nakita ko with your blogs before, sobrang close kayo, ‘di ba. Sobrang close kayo ng brother mo, ng sister mo. So I’m sure—nadadala mo naman iyon, eh. Nadadala mo with your own families. So ako, nakikita ko na your two daughters will also be very, very close. Do you plan to have more?
BIANCA GONZALEZ: I’m good, Ma’am. [laughter] I’m honestly good. Thank you, Lord, na for the two. We’re very happy. Of course, my husband wishes we could have more but we’ll see. But so far, happy na po sa two.
VP LENI: Ito, Bianca, we don’t have a lot of time. Ayon, nire-remind na ako na mahaba iyong kuwentuhan. Pero siguro one last question, kasi sabi ko nga sa iyo, I’ve been following you, ‘di ba. So sa inyo sa family niyo, there have been changes. Like your husband retired from basketball. He’s a very good artist. Sobrang super talented. Iyong mga changes na ganito sa buhay, how has it affected iyong dynamics in the family? Mas masaya ka ba ngayon na, ‘di ba… Kasi kapag athlete iyong asawa mo, it requires a certain kind of discipline at saka iyong oras. Pero ano iyong epekto niya sa inyo? Iyong dynamics with the family?
BIANCA GONZALEZ: I can’t really say yet, Ma’am, because all the changes happened in quarantine. So parang all the changes happened within, like the home. But what I can say is, because we have been talking about his eventual retirement for years—kasi ang athlete naman talaga there is an age limit, usually may age limit, so there was not really any big adjustment because parang we were mentally preparing ourselves na for a time. We were talking about it for months. He was like, “Is this the correct time that we retire? Should I still go on?” And so it was a decision made together. And like you said earlier, of course, 100% I support my husband sa kung anong gusto niyang gawin. And in terms of time, actually, parang mas busy pa siya painting. It takes more time because ang training ng basketball po usually, let’s say three hours in the morning tapos may gym lang ng hapon. Pero now, it’s really hours and hours he has to spend in his studio. So yeah, in terms of hours, medyo same. Long hours but full support, of course.
VP LENI: Oo nga, eh. Of course, ako actually when I saw that, Bianca, para sa akin sobrang nakakahanga. Kasi it takes courage, ‘di ba. It takes a lot of courage to shift from, parang one end of the spectrum to another.
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Yes, yes.
VP LENI: Pero para sa akin, that it happened during the pandemic, parang blessing din ‘di ba. Blessing din na you’re all together. Sinasabi ko nga sa mga kasamahan ko rito na actually, the pandemic made us realize a lot of things that we were taking for granted for so long, ‘di ba. So sa akin, Bianca, I wish we could’ve had more time. Pero ako, ano, congratulations. Congratulations for everything that you have done. Thank you also for all the support to our programs. At saka ano, thank you for the inspiration that you give us. Na hindi mo iyan—na-shock ka noong sinabi ko the first time we met, pero you are really such an inspiration, especially to young people kaya ano…
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Oh my gosh.
VP LENI: Oo, kaya ano talaga, ano kami, saludo kami sa inyo—sa iyo—and we hope you continue being an inspiration to many people. So maraming salamat for giving us this time.
BIANCA GONZALEZ: Aww, thank you so much for your time! Your schedule is like 10 times busier than my schedule so I’m so happy to be your guest on your podcast. Again, congratulations and welcome to the podcasting world!
VP LENI: Thank you! Thank you.
BIANCA GONZALEZ: I’m sure that your conversations will inspire so many. And ako, I learned so much about you today so I’m happy that a lot of people will get to know the real Leni—wow, the real Leni—the more they listen to your episodes. So salamat po!
VP LENI: Thank you! Thank you, Bianca.
Thank you very much, Bianca, para sa isa na namang makabuluhang kuwentuhan sa ating podcast. Motherhood is not easy at napakalaking tulong na makarinig ng mga kuwento ng ibang kapwa ina tulad ni Bianca. Salamat sa mga listeners na nakasubaybay sa atin at sana nakakuha kayo ng inspirasyon at tips kung paano ma-improve ang relationships natin sa ating mga anak. Muli, ako si Leni Robredo and this is the Leni Robredo podcast. Hanggang sa susunod nating kuwentuhan.
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