Judy Ann Santos: From child wonder to hands-on mother

Marga Deona

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Actress-TV host shares lessons on time management as celebrity mom

TIME MANAGEMENT, AND SMILING THROUGH. Juday in relaxed mode. Photos: Marga Deona

MANILA, Philippines – Judy Ann Santos smiles a lot more these days.

The 35-year-old actress has come a long way, from child wonder to afternoon-drama princess to full-fledged pop-culture hyphenate. She is a far cry from the chubby, tears-ridden adolescent who won the hearts of the masa in top-rating soaps “Mara Clara” and “Esperanza.”

The hearts she won over catapulted her to superstardom, quite apart from the celebrities of her generation. With this stature, Judy Ann became the link between past superstars like Julie Vega and today’s teenage sensations. She has since transcended that small screen-darling persona to assume a new role suitable for her age – the cosmopolitan working mother.

“Well, simula talaga nang maging nanay ako, naging mas energetic ako, mas madalas nakangiti,” she said.

(Since I became a mother, I became more energetic and I tend to smile a lot.)SVELTE. The child star turned cosmopolitan mom

Much has been said about women who embrace motherhood, and how they seem to be more settled, more serene, more self-assured. Apart from her sporting a more svelte figure and an impeccable fashion sense, Judy Ann carries herself more confidently these days – quick to parry questions, graceful after all these years in a volatile industry.

She regaled the press about her new Kapamilya show ,“Bet on Your Baby,” a franchise of the American show of the same title. Juday shared lessons and anecdotes about her journey as a wife and mother as she juggles parenting with acting, hosting, and a slew of other ventures on the side. Here are 3 important lessons she has learned so far:

Accept your limitations. Being a superstar and a supermom can take its toll on her, she admits. “Kung ire-rate ko sarili ko [If I would rate myself], 7 out of 10,” Judy Ann said. “May pagkukulang din ako, may pagkakataon na wala ako sa tabi nila.” (I have my shortcomings, there are times I’m not at my children’s side.)

There are moments when, after a long day at work, she finds herself struggling to stay awake for some precious bonding time with her two children. “Pero tao lang, baldado.” (I’m just human, I can get exhausted.)

She might be blessed with a household staff who can help her manage time with her kids, but unlike in her single days, Judy Ann now finds herself bargaining for prospective projects in terms of schedule. “Pinapakiusapan ko, pwede bang 2-3 times a week tayo, tapos we start taping mga before noon?” (I would ask for some consideration, if I can have a schedule of 2-3 times a week and we start taping before noon.) Because Juday wants to be the one to give her kids a bath and bring them to school.

Parenting is a team effort. “Team effort talaga kami ng asawa ko [It’s really a team effort between me and my husband, Ryan Agoncillo],” she said. “Kapag wala ako [If I can’t be around], we both make sure [that he’s with the kids] na kasama siya ng mga bata.”

Judy Ann is a firm believer of having a spouse willing to sweep the floor with you, among other domestic duties. There is no delineation between provider and nurturer – both Judy Ann and Ryan take on the roles.

She has considered the idea of becoming a work-from-home mom, which should give her more time for her children. But thinking about the future of 9-year-old Yohan and 3-year-old Lucho pushes her – and her husband – to work harder than ever. “I think kids are more understanding now, more accepting na yung mga magulang nila, hindi nila kasama palagi, at alam nila na para sa kanila rin naman ang sakripisyo.” (They’re more accepting about the fact that their parents can’t always be with them, and they know that what their parents are doing are a sacrifice in their behalf.)

Don’t let yourself go. This statement is anything but about vanity. “You need time alone to keep yourself sane,” said Juday.

Being the best parent you can be, she continues, entails learning when to step back. “Minsan, nangyayari sa atin ang ‘guilty parenting,’ kung saan hinihigpitan mo masyado ang anak mo, masyado kang tutok.”

(Sometimes it happens to us – guilty parenting, when you become too strict or too attentive to your children.)

The Agoncillos don’t follow a cardinal rule, because “the more you [impose a] limit, the more [your kids] keep things from you.” – Rappler.com

Here’s a clip of ‘Bet on Your Baby’:


ABS-CBN’s ‘Bet on Your Baby’ premieres Saturday, October 19, after ‘TV Patrol Sabado.’

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Marga Deona

Marga leads digital and product management for Rappler’s multimedia expansion. Sometimes, she writes about the intersection of technology, culture, and business, as well as the occasional sports and music features.