an­dre & Kobe Paras

YES! (Philippines) - - In this Issue - TEXT BY JOCELYN T. VALLE CAPTIONS & SIDEBARS BY GABBY REYES LIBARIOS IN­TER­VIEWS BY JOCELYN T. VALLE, GABBY REYES LIBARIOS & JO-ANN Q. MAGLIPON PORTRAITS BY RIA REGINO HOUSE PHO­TOS BY MIKE CHUA

Since they were young, Kobe and An­dre Paras, the good-look­ing sons of co­me­dian and for­mer pro­fes­sional baller Ben­jie Paras, have been very close—thick as thieves, as the old cliché goes. In his in­ter­view with YES! in their Pasig City home, Kobe says that wasn’t al­ways the case. They might even have been, he ex­ag­ger­ates, “ri­vals” and “mor­tal en­e­mies” in their very early years. But, around the time Kobe was to leave for the U.S. in 2013 to con­tinue his high school ed­u­ca­tion at Cathe­dral High in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia, he be­came closer to An­dre. “It’s not ’yong typ­i­cal na parang sa movie that the brother hates the sis­ter, the brother hates the brother,” Kobe re­calls. “Kami ni An­dre, we re­al­ized na we should’ve been re­ally close when I was 14 or 15, when I left [for the States].” An­dre, who con­sid­ers his younger brother the “ma­ture” one, agrees that theirs is not a per­fect sib­ling re­la­tion­ship. Yes, there is laugh­ing, teas­ing, ar­gu­ing, and some­times fight­ing—but it cer­tainly never gets to the point of hat­ing. An­dre and Kobe, through the good times and the bad, have al­ways had each other’s back.

Broth­ers An­dre and Kobe Paras were four and two years old, re­spec­tively, when they graced the pages of YES! Mag­a­zine for the first time. The two kids and their fa­ther, Ben­jie Paras, the le­gendary bas­ket­ball player-turned-showbiz fun­ny­man, were the sub­ject of a four-page fea­ture in the mag­a­zine’s in­au­gu­ral is­sue, pub­lished in April 2000.

Fa­ther and sons had their pho­tos taken at the fam­ily res­i­dence then: a two-story, three-bed­room af­fair on Com­mon­wealth Av­enue, Que­zon City. The pic­tures showed the three of them hang­ing out in the sala and play­ing in the drive­way.

Be­tween the two boys, it was An­dre whom Dad Ben­jie called “showbiz.” In­deed, his pan­ganay looked at ease in front of the cam­era, which even got a shot of him with his in­dex fin­ger pointed up­wards. Sec­ond son Kobe, on the other hand, hardly smiled and was shown in pho­tos as hold­ing on ei­ther to Dad Ben­jie or to a stuffed toy.

In the ar­ti­cle, Ben­jie—the only player in the pro league Philip­pine Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (PBA) to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Valu­able Player (MVP) awards in the same sea­son in 1989—told YES! that his sons were al­ready show­ing an in­ter­est in bas­ket­ball, and he could see that one of them, if not both, would end up play­ing the game. That, he said, was no prob­lem for him, adding that when the time would come, he would sup­port his boys’ de­ci­sions.

And the time has come for the Paras broth­ers—who both have grown up to be tall, good-look­ing, ar­tic­u­late, and well­man­nered—to take the spot­light.

An­dre, who turns 22 on Novem­ber 1, strad­dles bas­ket­ball and showbiz. The 6-foot-4 ath­lete plays for­ward-cen­ter in the AMA On­line Ed­u­ca­tion team, which com­petes in the semi-pro Philip­pine Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion De­vel­op­ment League, or PBA D-League. At the same time, he co-hosts the GMA-7 noon­time va­ri­ety show Sun­day Pi­naSaya. He has also ap­peared as an ac­tor in the day­time soap The Half Sis­ters and the prime­time se­ries That’s My Am­boy and En­can­ta­dia, as well as the rom­com flicks Diary ng Panget and Girl­friend for Hire.

Kobe, who will be 20 on Septem­ber 19, pur­sues his dream of play­ing bas­ket­ball among the best play­ers in the world, while at the same time think­ing of open­ing a din­ing spot and a fash­ion line. At 15, he had moved to the U.S. to con­tinue his stud­ies at the Cathe­dral High School in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia, and to play for his school. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, the 6-foot-6 shoot­ing guard

Ac­cord­ing to the padre de fa­milia, the liv­ing space re­flects ev­ery­thing that he loves about this house: “maali­walas.”

Ben­jie tells YES!: “Ano kasi siya, mali­wanag din siya. ’Yon lang ’yong gusto ko dito. ’Tsaka my fa­vorite is ei­ther the sala or the kitchen.”

The liv­ing room is fur­nished with a re­mod­eled sec­tional couch, two swivel cof­fee ta­bles, a 65-inch flatscreen TV, a shag car­pet, a pair of high-back ac­cent chairs, and a mod­ern open shelv­ing unit that holds a dec­o­ra­tive clock, can­dles, and var­i­ous home ac­cents.

Lyxen, Ben­jie’s wife, says that the sec­tional sofa used to be L-shaped. “And then, since we ex­panded this area, we needed a big­ger couch,” she tells YES! “So we took out the cor­ner and then put to­gether the parts that used to turn into an L.”

Ben­jie paints us a pic­ture of how the liv­ing room would look like on a nor­mal day. “Imag­ine-in mo na andiyan ako nakaupo, watch­ing TV. ’Ta­pos, my kids will be here,” he says, point­ing to the car­pet, “nag­do­draw­ing. Nan­dito ang isa, and then ’yong isa ko, nakasan­dal sa akin, play­ing with the tablet. ’Ta­pos, si Ge­orja, andiyan ’yong toys niya. Nor­mal day.”

Kobe says that this spa­cious liv­ing room is his fa­vorite part of the house: “Be­cause that’s where we spend all our time. ’Cause if we’re all in our rooms, we’re do­ing our own thing, like, the lit­tle kids are study­ing, Dad’s do­ing phone calls, I’m just up in my room sleep­ing. I love the liv­ing room and love the kitchen just be­cause I love to cook and I love to eat.”

De­sign­ing the in­te­ri­ors was a merg­ing of Ben­jie’s and Lyxen’s tastes. “’Yong wife ko kasi, we’d al­ways watch HGTV, and then titin­gin sa mag­a­zines. ’Ta­pos, magka-can­vass kami, kasi ’yong iba ma­hal. Ang kukunin namin e ’yong mir­ror im­age n’ong gusto namin [ na fur­ni­ture].”

He sheep­ishly ad­mits, “Fa­vorite nam­ing panoorin ’yong Fixer Up­per.”

For the unini­ti­ated, Fixer Up­per is an Amer­i­can re­al­ity-TV se­ries about buy­ing and re­mod­el­ing old homes. It is broad­cast on ca­ble chan­nel HGTV. went to Creighton Univer­sity in Omaha, Ne­braska, as a stu­dent ath­lete. A year later, he re­turned to L.A. to join the team at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity in Northridge. He is also a mem­ber of the Philip­pine men’s na­tional team, Gi­las Pilip­inas.

One fine Thurs­day af­ter­noon, YES! re­vis­its the Paras house­hold, which has seen many changes over the years.

A few weeks be­fore the pub­li­ca­tion of our first is­sue in April 2000, Ben­jie had sep­a­rated from his first wife and the mother of his two sons, Jackie Forster, now a re­tired ac­tress. Six years later, in 2006, he got mar­ried to his cur­rent wife Lyxen Diomampo-Paras, a for­mer preschool teacher and com­mer­cial model. Ben­jie and Lyxen now have three chil­dren of their own—a boy named Ri­ley, eight years old; an­other boy named Sam, six years old; and a girl named Ge­orja, who turns one on Septem­ber 4. An­dre and Kobe call their step­mother Mommy Ly.

The Paras fam­ily—Ben­jie, Lyxen, An­dre, Kobe, Ri­ley, Sam, and Ge­orja— cur­rently lives in a three-story house with five bed­rooms in an ex­clu­sive sub­di­vi­sion in Pasig City. Kobe has come home from the States for a string of tour­na­ments for Gi­las Pilip­inas. On the day of our house shoot, he has just re­turned from the Tai­wanese cap­i­tal city of Taipei, where he played in the 2017 Wil­liam Jones Cup in­ter­na­tional bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment, which ran from July 15 to 23.

GROW­ING- UP YEARS

“I don’t know when we moved in,” says An­dre, the el­dest of the Paras chil­dren, shak­ing his head.

We are in the den, where a spot has been set up for the groom­ing re­quire­ments of the photo shoot’s celebrity sub­jects. Makeup artist Muriel Vega Perez ap­plies a lit­tle makeup to An­dre’s face, just to add color to his fair mes­tizo skin, as hair­styl­ist Grace Sal­vador blow- dries the ac­tor-ath­lete’s dark brown locks.

An­dre vividly re­mem­bers the time when he and his fam­ily were liv­ing in an­other sub­di­vi­sion. That one was in Libis district, Que­zon City. “We had a bas­ket­ball court, like, be­side the house lang,” he says. “So ev­ery day, we’re in the park lang, and Dad didn’t look for us any­more be­cause he knew we’re safe there, he knew where we were. To the point na we didn’t go home any­more. He­hehe! We played and played and played, and then, we had play­mates there who played bas­ket­ball, so never may time na wala kam­ing kalaro.”

He can’t re­call ex­actly when he picked up the sport, spec­u­lat­ing that he must have been nine years old and that his younger brother Kobe must have been around seven. “Basta I re­mem­ber at that time, Dad was still play­ing in a way, so we wanted to be like him, or na­hawa lang ’cause we seemed to do things like Dad.”

Ben­jie Paras re­tired from play­ing pro bas­ket­ball in 2003 at age 34, so An­dre and Kobe were eight and six, re­spec­tively, at that time. Nev­er­the­less, An­dre has good mem­o­ries of the time when their dad, the PBA’s two-time MVP, was lord­ing it over the hard court.

“There were games I knew I watched, and there were some games I think me and Kobe were just run­ning around the arena be­cause we’re kids, we didn’t un­der­stand the sport,” An­dre re­calls. “Well, I could re­mem­ber, like, the an­nounc­ers say­ing his name all the time, ‘Ben­jie Paras, for the slam!’ Those are the things that are nos­tal­gic, so when I hear peo­ple say his name, those are the things I re­mem­ber.”

An­dre makes it clear, though, that Dad Ben­jie didn’t have a di­rect hand in get­ting his sons into bas­ket­ball.

“Dad never re­ally in­tro­duced us to the sport na­man ta­laga,” An­dre points out. “He never told us, ‘You have to do this, wear this, or go here, train here.’ It’s just us. We started ask­ing ad­vice from Dad, and then ’yon, we asked Dad, ‘We just wanna go play, what can we do?’ ‘Sige, there’s a bas­ket­ball camp nearby…’ Then, yeah, that’s where it started na. We just asked ad­vice. From that day on, Dad never told us what to do. ’Yon lang, it’s more of us. As long as we ask some­thing, he’ll be open.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view with Kobe, in an­other cor­ner in the fam­ily home, the sec­ond-born child at­tests to Dad Ben­jie’s le­nient ways. “We’re just lucky to have a dad like him just be­cause he’s gonna sup­port what­ever I want to do in life,” Kobe beams. “He never pushed me or forced me to train, he never forced me to model, he never pushed me to do the things I did. That’s why I ap­pre­ci­ate him so much. Since he’s a good dad, I learned to talk to him and ask him for ad­vice. I told him mismo na ‘Dad, I think you should train me,’ and stuff like that.”

Kobe re­calls that he was in third grade at La Salle Green Hills on Or­ti­gas Av­enue, Man­daluy­ong City, when he took to bas­ket­ball as a hobby. Then, tak­ing the cue from An­dre, who was two years ahead of him in the same school, Kobe also tried out for the var­sity team, the La Salle Green Hills Gree­nies—and he got in. He stayed with the team all the way to high school. That was when he re­al­ized that he had great po­ten­tial to be a bas­ket­ball player,

and that was when he de­cided to make a ca­reer out of the sport.

Go­ing to try­outs ex­posed the broth­ers to the way peo­ple per­ceived them—that they should be as good as their fa­ther.

“That’s a fact,” Kobe says. “I mean, be­cause Dad is a leg­end in Philip­pine bas­ket­ball, so, of course, peo­ple are gonna look at me and An­dre. Grow­ing up was hard ’cause ev­ery time I would be in the team, like, ‘Uy, nasa team lang, kasi anak ni Paras.’ But, you know, I’m just happy that I prove peo­ple wrong now, that I’m here for a rea­son, and that my name is just Kobe Paras, and hindi na ‘anak ni Ben­jie Paras.’”

For his part, An­dre used to take a beat­ing on so­cial me­dia when he was play­ing for his high school team. Af­ter a game, he’d get on­line com­ments such as “You’re not good” and “Why you’re not like your dad?” And he’d think to him­self: “Why are you com­par­ing me [to my dad]? Like, I’m just fif­teen or seven­teen.”

He gives us a look that shows he’s a bit an­noyed yet in­formed.

“So peo­ple al­ways ex­pected a lot from me more than I should ex­pect from my­self, na I’m get­ting used to it,” An­dre ex­plains. “I like to rep­re­sent my school. But peo­ple see us, like, ‘Hey, if you wanna make it to the pros, you have to be this good.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m still in high school. I just wanna en­joy the game.’

“A lot of peo­ple are like that. I don’t know how to call them. Heck­lers? Or I don’t know. Peo­ple are nag­ma­marunong, I guess. There were a lot, but now, wala na­man. I think they grew old na, or I think they just had bet­ter things to do. He­hehe!”

An­dre ac­knowl­edges the su­pe­rior moves of his fa­ther, who is as tall as he is and who also played cen­ter. The son only wishes he could have the bas­ket­ball IQ of the one known as “The Tower of Power” in the PBA from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.

“When he played the sport kasi, he knew, I guess, how to en­joy it, more than be­ing scared of it,” the as­pir­ing pro cager says of the for­mer hoops star.

An­dre also ap­pre­ci­ates how, when he has bad games, Dad Ben­jie tries to cheer him up with com­fort­ing words that go some­thing like this: “You had a nice game, you know, some­thing to learn from.” Ap­par­ently, the older Paras’s way of han­dling the sit­u­a­tion is a far cry from the hor­ror sto­ries An­dre has heard from other play­ers, whose fathers—nay, stage fathers—rep­ri­mand them for not play­ing well.

“Dad doesn’t re­ally in­ter­fere,” he points out. “When you ask some­thing, he’d an­swer, he’d be hon­est. But mostly, he’s

al­ways there as a fa­ther, not as a coach­fa­ther, if there’s such a thing.”

In­deed, bas­ket­ball has been a big part of An­dre’s and Kobe’s lives since child­hood. But that doesn’t mean that their shared pas­sion for the sport spared them from what An­dre—who is not called Kuya by Kobe— de­scribes “’yong typ­i­cal na nag-aaway, piku­nan, kuli­tan” that sib­lings usu­ally go through while grow­ing up to­gether.

An­dre then goes on to nar­rate the worst fight he and his brother had. It hap­pened while they were play­ing PlaySta­tion 2 (PS2), a home video game con­sole.

“We were young, like, eight, nine. We were play­ing PS2, and then… I don’t know. He’s weird in a way na when he plays, he doesn’t wanna fight—and that’s the whole point. He just wanted to roam around [the room]… I went be­hind his back and I started beat­ing him, then he threw the re­mote [con­trol]. I think, that day, he didn’t want to play with me any­more.”

Now that they’re al­ready grownups, An­dre says they still tease each other. “But it’s not like to the point na iiyak or mag­susum­bong,” he adds, chuck­ling. “It’s for fun lang, and at the same time, I guess, it’s a way of test­ing the bond we have.”

Kobe agrees that he and his older brother used to fight a lot when they were kids. “It’s a phase,” he says. “We grew up na parang hat­ing each other, and then, be­fore I left for the States, that’s when me and An­dre be­came su­per close. We be­came, like, best friends, and then, you know, he’s my best man. So if I’m gonna get mar­ried to­mor­row, he’d be the guy be­side me, yeah!”

LONG DIS­TANCE

Back when he was in third year high school at La Salle Green Hills, Kobe read about the Cathe­dral High School’s

“hav­ing a lot of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents,” so he told his dad about his de­sire to study in that Los An­ge­les in­sti­tu­tion.

“And then we con­tacted the school and it hap­pened there,” he says. “They helped us get my pa­pers, my visa to play bas­ket­ball in the States. So, that’s where it all hap­pened.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view with Ben­jie, in the liv­ing room of the Paras res­i­dence, the PBA leg­end re­lates what hap­pened when he ac­com­pa­nied Kobe to his new place: “Pag­dat­ing namin do’n sa States, sabi niya, ‘Dad, sa’n tayo titira?’ [ Sabi ko,] ‘Ikaw lang.’ Hindi niya alam. So, sabi ko, ‘Kaya mo ba?’ ‘Kaya ko.’”

Liv­ing alone for the first time in a far­away place brought mixed emo­tions to the then-15-year-old bas­ket­ball prodigy. “I was re­ally ex­cited be­cause it’s like a new be­gin­ning for my life,” Kobe re­calls. “No one knows me in LA. It’s my time to show peo­ple na kaya ko ta­laga. And then, you know, I proved my­self. I made a name in LA. I made it to LA Times, did a bunch of things.”

The daily news­pa­per Los An­ge­les Times, or LA Times, ran a story on Kobe on Oc­to­ber 13, 2014. The very ti­tle of re­porter Eric Sond­heimer’s ar­ti­cle, “There’s a new Kobe in town at Cathe­dral High,” made it clear where the Filipino ballplayer stood. By be­ing de­scribed as “a new Kobe,” the Pi­noy Kobe was clearly be­ing com­pared fa­vor­ably with the Amer­i­can bas­ket­ball su­per­star af­ter whom he was named— Kobe Bryant, who dom­i­nated the sport as shoot­ing guard for the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers in the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA) from 1996 to 2016.

The ar­ti­cle made men­tion of an ex­hi­bi­tion game spon­sored by Nike sneak­ers in Manila in 2013. That game had Kobe Paras and an­other NBA su­per­star, LeBron James, play­ing in op­pos­ing teams. At one point dur­ing the game, Kobe made a slam dunk in front of LeBron. “They’re call­ing me the kid who dunked on LeBron,” Kobe was quoted as say­ing.

Cathe­dral High’s head coach for men’s bas­ket­ball, Wil­liam Mid­dle­brooks, was also in­ter­viewed for the ar­ti­cle. “Most know him for his dunk­ing, but he can shoot the three, drib­bles and passes,” he said of Kobe, his one and only Pi­noy player in the team. “He’s highly skilled and is adapt­ing to the style of play in Amer­ica.”

Chas­ing his Amer­i­can dream in his first year of high school had its down­side, Kobe tells YES! “It was hard,” he con­fesses. “I was home­sick. I was de­pressed… But then, I used as mo­ti­va­tion my par­ents and the fact that there are a lot of peo­ple who would like to be in my po­si­tion, you know. And then I just did my best, for­got about home­sick­ness, got used to it.”

He also ap­pre­ci­ates hav­ing a coach like Mid­dle­brooks, whom Kobe de­scribes as his men­tor and as a great per­son who has “helped me so much in life, not just in bas­ket­ball.”

Kobe’s fa­ther Ben­jie agrees that the boy’s first year away from home had been tough. “No’ng min­san, tu­mawag ’yan,” he says of Kobe. “Umi­iyak ’yan. Sabi ko, ‘Gusto mo na umuwi?’ Ayaw daw niya. Nire-re­lease lang niya [ ang home­sick­ness]. Sabi ko, konting tiis lang. Three years kong sin­abi sa kanya ’yon: konting tiis. Pero ngayon, sa col­lege, sanay na siya.”

Of those whom Kobe had left be­hind in the Philip­pines, it was his older brother An­dre who took the sep­a­ra­tion the hard­est.

“An­dre was re­ally af­fected,” Dad Ben­jie says. “So, malungkot siya. Kasi lagi niyang ka­away ’to [ Kobe]. Hindi na­man ka­away, pero ang magka­p­atid, darat­ing sa age na hindi kayo magkaka­sundo. ’Ta­pos, ito na ’yong age na ta­la­gang magkasama sila. And they are more frank to each other. ‘Dude, pan­git ang suot mo!’ ‘E, ano’ng ma­g­a­gawa mo?’ ‘Lal­abas tayo, ang pan­git ng suot mo.’ Ito kasi [ Kobe], he’s a fash­ion­ista.”

An­dre ad­mits to YES! that he was emo­tional dur­ing Kobe’s first trip away from the home coun­try.

“I cried a lot when he left,” An­dre says, sans emo­tions now. “And then he just said he’ll be back, or he said he’s do­ing this for the fam­ily and for him, for us. It’s okay, but kahit any word he said, wala, he’s gone pa rin. So, no mat­ter what, I was re­ally sen­si­tive about it. I pretty much got used to it from time to time, ’cause, you know, I re­al­ized I have work, so if I get to save out, I

get to visit him. So when­ever we say good­byes now, it’s noth­ing emo­tional. We just say, ‘Yo, we’ll see each other soon!”

Though he’s older, An­dre wasn’t the one who im­parted words of wis­dom and life lessons to Kobe.

“Hon­estly, he was the one who was giv­ing me ad­vice when he left,” An­dre says. “You know, ‘Have fun, don’t lis­ten to neg­a­tive peo­ple.’ Or he’ll tell me, like, ‘If you have work, do it.’ Or, ‘If you have chance to play again, then play again.’ Ako, I just told him, ‘Fol­low your dreams.’”

An­dre clearly re­calls the first few months af­ter his younger brother’s de­par­ture for the U.S.: “It was weird, be­cause there’s no one teas­ing me. There’s no one, like, just ask­ing me to go out, like, just to the con­ve­nience store or just drive around the city at night. No one tells me to do that any­more, so I was, like, it feels weird, ’cause some­times, you ex­pect to say some­thing back na parang ‘I wanna sleep,’ or, you know, it was typ­i­cal na ‘I don’t want.’ But now, I’m look­ing for it [that kind of re­sponse].”

Thanks to tech­nol­ogy, the Paras boys re­main con­nected through so­cial me­dia and mes­sag­ing apps. And even if they don’t see each other, An­dre doesn’t worry much about Kobe be­cause he knows his younger brother so well.

“Ever since he was young, he’s just re­ally tough,” An­dre says of Kobe, who is de­cid­edly the more ma­ture one. “He was re­ally mat­a­pang, e, in a way na ’yong pikon niya in sports, it’s not be­cause he hates peo­ple but he wants to win. So he has this thing in him na I see na he’s re­ally some­one who’s strong. Kaya, you know, he sur­vived in Amer­ica. He’s street-smart. He’s in­de­pen­dent. He knows how to wash his clothes, he knows where to go with­out be­ing told, or he knows his way around by him­self… He’s home­sick, he’d ad­mit it, but he didn’t give up be­cause he has that thing in him that pushed him to be who he is now.”

OVER­COM­ING A SET­BACK

Kobe’s tenac­ity was put to the test when, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Cathe­dral High, he was un­able to en­ter his first choice of col­lege: the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les (UCLA). A slot in the UCLA— whose men’s bas­ket­ball team, the UCLA Bru­ins, has won 11 cham­pi­onships from the pres­ti­gious Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (NCAA)—may boost Kobe’s chances of even­tu­ally join­ing the U.S. pro league, NBA, in the fu­ture.

Rewind to Novem­ber 11, 2015. On that date, Kobe took to Twit­ter to an­nounce that he was of­fi­cially a Bruin. That same day, the LA Times re­ported that Kobe was among the three top high school bas­ket­ball play­ers from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to have signed with UCLA.

Seven months later, on June 29, 2016, UCLA is­sued this state­ment: “In­com­ing fresh­man guard Kobe Paras, ad­mit­ted upon con­di­tion to UCLA, has with­drawn from the univer­sity due to aca­demic con­di­tions of his ad­mis­sion not be­ing met.”

That day’s is­sue of the LA Times car­ried a story on what could’ve been the rea­son for Kobe’s with­drawal. The pa­per had in­ter­viewed Cathe­dral High prin­ci­pal John Mont­gomery, who said that “the stand­out bas­ket­ball player was an hon­ors stu­dent who had met all of his NCAA re­quire­ments,” but added, “There was an SAT scor­ing is­sue.”

SAT, orig­i­nally an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of Scholas­tic Ap­ti­tude Test, now stands for

Scholas­tic As­sess­ment Test. Ac­cord­ing to Dic­tionary.com, it is a “set of stan­dard­ized col­lege ad­mis­sions tests de­vel­oped by the Col­lege Board, the prin­ci­pal one mea­sur­ing math­e­mat­i­cal and ver­bal rea­son­ing, and oth­ers mea­sur­ing knowl­edge in spe­cific sub­ject ar­eas.”

In the LA Times ar­ti­cle, Cathe­dral High coach Wil­liam Mid­dle­brooks was also quoted as say­ing that Kobe would play at an­other Di­vi­sion I univer­sity. “They made their de­ci­sion,” he said of UCLA. “He’ll be wear­ing an­other uni­form.”

But three days later, the coach, through his own school, Mid­dle­brooks Acad­emy, for which Kobe had also played, de­nied that the Filipino ballplayer had an “SAT is­sue” with UCLA.

“It was re­ported in the Los An­ge­les Times that the Cathe­dral High School Prin­ci­pal made a state­ment that ‘there was a SAT scor­ing is­sue,’” Mid­dle­brooks said in his own writ­ten state­ment, ti­tled “Kobe Paras & UCLA: The Facts.”

“The chal­lenge is read­ers do not know that this small 6-word state­ment was in re­al­ity made as part of a larger state­ment and un­for­tu­nately many peo­ple have con­strued this state­ment to mean some­thing it does not. For the record, Kobe Paras has a SAT score and that SAT score has been used as part of the process to eval­u­ate his aca­demic el­i­gi­bil­ity through the NCAA El­i­gi­bil­ity Cen­ter, which has ul­ti­mately deemed Kobe Paras a full aca­demic qual­i­fier.”

Mid­dle­brooks added in his state­ment: “The Paras fam­ily does not know any more in­for­ma­tion than what has been com­mu­ni­cated via the UCLA of­fi­cial state­ment. No meet­ing be­tween the UCLA Ad­mis­sions Depart­ment and Kobe Paras has ever taken place and there­fore the Paras fam­ily was not made privy to the in­ti­mate de­tails or ra­tio­nale as to why the UCLA Ad­mis­sions Depart­ment made the de­ci­sion not to ad­mit Kobe Paras.

“It is im­por­tant to also know that as with any ac­cep­tance or de­nial to a col­lege in the United States, the ad­mis­sions depart­ment at any school is not re­quired to in­form any stu­dent or their fam­ily as to the rea­sons why or why not a stu­dent has been ac­cepted or de­nied ad­mis­sion to their col­lege. The case is not dif­fer­ent for Kobe Paras and UCLA does not have to give him specifics as to their de­ci­sion to deny ad­mis­sion.”

Kobe’s high school coach also high­lighted his pro­tégé’s scholas­tic achieve­ments, in­clud­ing be­ing a “chem­istry Star Scholar award win­ner, Physics and Cal­cu­lus award win­ner, an in­ductee of the Cal­i­for­nia Schol­ar­ship Fed­er­a­tion (a high school honor so­ci­ety founded in 1916), a mul­ti­ple se­mes­ter

Honor Roll stu­dent and grad­u­ated from Cathe­dral High School with hon­ors.”

Lastly, Mid­dle­brooks an­nounced that Kobe had been get­ting nu­mer­ous of­fers from uni­ver­si­ties in which he could take up a col­lege course and for which he could play bas­ket­ball.

The col­lege fresh­man ended up at Creighton Univer­sity in Omaha, Ne­braska. But af­ter com­plet­ing his fresh­man year, Kobe moved to the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Northridge, which is also called Cal State.

Kobe’s fa­ther Ben­jie looks back on the UCLA de­ba­cle with a sigh. “Nagkaro’n ng po­lit­i­cal ano, e. Marami ro’n, so…” he tells YES! with­out elab­o­ra­tion. What he’d like to talk about is how the sud­den turn of events af­fected his son.

“Do’n ta­laga, tu­mawag siya sa ’kin na iyak siya nang iyak,” he re­calls. “Tu­mawag siya ng umaga. That night, lu­mi­pad ako. I went to LA. ’Ta­pos, bu­ma­lik ako rito. Pag­ba­lik ko rito, hindi pa pala siya nakakaset­tle. Sabi ko, I need to go back. Ba­lik ako, so inan­tay ko siya ma-set­tle kung sa’n siya ta­laga. Un­for­tu­nately, we picked Creighton, and it didn’t work out for him. So, he’s now trans­ferred to Cal State.”

For his part, Kobe opts to look at the bright side of his missed op­por­tu­nity at UCLA.

“’Cause my whole life, ever since I was a kid, I was go­ing through ad­ver­sity,” he says in re­flec­tion. “So it’s not re­ally bound to hap­pen. But I knew some­thing bad

would hap­pen just be­cause, like, ev­ery sin­gle year in my life, I go through ad­ver­sity.

“So, I think that’s just one test from God to show me na ‘You know what, it’s not your di­rec­tion. Let’s take an­other di­rec­tion.’ So I just used it as mo­ti­va­tion, and just, you know, I think about it ev­ery day. But it doesn’t stop me from achiev­ing my goal…

“Noth­ing’s easy in life, and you’ll never get what you want, and, you know, if God gives us a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, just go with the flow, and just ask for guid­ance.”

Kobe barely sup­presses a snicker when asked if his girl­friend at the time had some­thing to do with his no-go at UCLA. “Oh, no, no, no!” he protests. “She’s not the rea­son!”

From Novem­ber 2015 to June 2016, Kobe and Gabrielle “Gab” Cur­rent—a Filipino-Amer­i­can who had mod­eled for the cloth­ing brands Macy’s, Tar­get, and Pot­tery Barn be­fore she trained her sights on singing and mu­sic pro­duc­tion— had been post­ing on their re­spec­tive so­cial me­dia ac­counts pho­tos of them­selves to­gether shar­ing sweet mo­ments.

On May 24, sup­pos­edly their sixth “month­sary,” to use mil­len­nial speak, Kobe took to In­sta­gram to ex­press his feel­ings for Gab: “6 months ago, my life changed… This amaz­ing per­son be­side me helped me through a lot. I never ex­pected that some­one out there would un­der­stand and care for me this much. Be­cause of her, I am a bet­ter per­son. She’s beau­ti­ful in­side and out. I still get goose­bumps ev­ery time I call her mine. It’s been half a year and I’m still blessed to have you. #gabcur­rent.”

How­ever, when news about Kobe’s with­drawal from UCLA broke out at the end of June, Kobe and Gab’s joint so­cial me­dia pres­ence had been con­spic­u­ously toned down. And then, one day, their fol­low­ers no­ticed that their past pho­tos to­gether had been taken down. In con­clu­sion: the young lovers had split up.

“No, she didn’t break my heart,” Kobe tells YES! “She’s a great per­son, she has a great ca­reer. But, you know, it’s life. You’re gonna have your chances, you should take it. If it doesn’t work out, just go on with your life.”

He clar­i­fies that be­ing with Gab didn’t have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on him.

“I wanna clear that up ’cause peo­ple think when you’re in a re­la­tion­ship, it af­fects your fu­ture. No, it doesn’t. Like, if I’m dat­ing some­one that’s strictly, like, a re­la­tion­ship, that’s gonna ruin my re­la­tion­ship with my par­ents, my friends,

or my bas­ket­ball? If it did, at the first day it did, you’re gone. You’re not gonna ruin my re­la­tion­ship with any­one.

“That’s why, you know, we broke up just be­cause, like, I moved schools. So, it’s the dis­tance, and I’m not good with dis­tance. She could’ve han­dled dis­tance...”

He pauses, and points out: “But I don’t wanna talk about that just be­cause it’s the past. I don’t wanna bring up my ex. But, you know, just to clar­ify, she’s a great per­son, great hu­man be­ing. Never af­fected my sched­ule. But, you know, I’m just sin­gle now, and I’m happy.”

ROUSING COME­BACK

Kobe’s older brother An­dre, who’s get­ting prepped up in the den of the Paras fam­ily home at this point in the YES! in­ter­view, re­counts his own jour­ney since grad­u­at­ing from high school at La Salle Green Hills in 2013.

He en­rolled at the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines to study sports sci­ence and take up a few sub­jects in film—which was his orig­i­nal choice, of course. All the while, he played for the UP Fight­ing Ma­roons in the col­le­giate league, the Univer­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (UAAP).

Later that year, in Oc­to­ber, An­dre and Kobe signed up with GMA-7 to jump­start their showbiz ca­reer. The fol­low­ing school year, the UP Isko­lar ng Bayan trans­ferred to San Beda Col­lege, his fa­ther Ben­jie’s alma mater, where the re­tired player also worked as the men’s bas­ket­ball coach. But af­ter a year at San Beda, An­dre dropped out. He had opted to fo­cus on his bur­geon­ing act­ing ca­reer.

On April 2, 2014, the new­bie ac­tor’s first movie, Diary ng Panget, in which he co-starred with James Reid, Na­dine Lus­tre, and Yassi Press­man, opened. Two months later, on June 9, his first drama se­ries, The Half Sis­ters, along­side Bar­bie Forteza, Thea To­lentino, and Der­rick Monas­te­rio, pre­miered on the af­ter­noon block and went on run­ning for one year and seven months.

“I re­mem­ber in San Beda, I’ll be in class sleepy ’cause of com­ing home from tap­ing,” he says with a slight shrug of his shoul­ders. “But to the point it just be­came… It was hard for me. Like, I was suf­fer­ing, and then, my grades were get­ting re­ally bad, hon­estly. So, like, I had to put it on hold. So ’yon lang.”

In early 2017, An­dre’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the now- de­funct fantasy se­ries En­can­ta­dia, as the Bar­bar­ian-like war­rior Wahid, came to an end. A month later, he got a mes­sage from a for­mer coach, Mark Her­rera, who now coaches the AMA On­line Ed­u­ca­tion team that com­petes in the PBA D-League.

Mark in­vited An­dre to join the team. That made the then hi­ber­nat­ing player ex­claim: “Wow!” But be­fore send­ing out his re­ply, An­dre talked to his dad and mes­saged his brother, ask­ing them, “What do I do?”

Dad Ben­jie told him, “Ikaw. Kung kaya mo, di, okey.”

Kobe sent An­dre a long cell­phone mes­sage, in which the U.S.-based brother re­marked: “You al­ways com­plain to me how you miss bas­ket­ball, this and that.”

And that was how An­dre de­cided to go back to play­ing com­pet­i­tive bas­ket­ball.

“I was, like, okay, I’ll do it,” he says. “So, yeah, I was go­ing around the house, I was see­ing awards. Oo nga, I had no awards. I had noth­ing to prove, like, why did I put it on the side. So, yeah, prove some­thing muna to my­self and not to any­one. Just to me, self-ful­fill­ment lang. Su­makto na naka­pag-en­roll pa ako sa AMA On­line. So, if I had work or not, I was still able to go to school on­line and play bas­ket­ball.”

An­dre’s re­turn to the hard court was marked by im­proved over­all per­for­mance, which im­pressed even the coaches of ri­val teams. Eric Gon­za­les of the Batan­gas team said on the sports web­site Spin.ph on July 7, 2017 (quoted here as is): “Ma­g­a­l­ing si An­dre. Hindi malayo (na maka­pa­sok siya sa PBA)… Ath­letic, matal­ino, at ma­g­a­l­ing yung bata.” In the same ar­ti­cle, Cig­nal team coach Boyet Fer­nan­dez, who also coached An­dre at San Beda, added (also quoted here as is): “Si An­dre kasi ga­nun ang as­set nun, more on re­bounds and de­fense but then he can shoot the three and yung en­ergy nya an­dun lagi… Ganda nga ng katawan ngayon me­dyo nag­ing solid.”

Bas­ket­ball’s come­back kid takes the good words with self- de­pre­ci­a­tion. “Some­times I con­sider it ku­lang pa,” An­dre says mat­ter-of-factly. “But that’s me, you know. I guess I just re­ally don’t

pay at­ten­tion to what peo­ple say, like, ‘You need to do bet­ter,’ or ‘We ex­pect you to be here,’ or ‘We ex­pect next year na…’ I do hear it or see it na, ’cause of so­cial me­dia. I saw na what to work on, so I use it as an in­spi­ra­tion lang for me.”

Ul­ti­mately, An­dre sees him­self turn­ing pro, as his fa­ther did in 1989.

“Hope­fully,” An­dre nods. “’Cause I’m twenty-one, and I guess the ideal age here in the Philip­pines [to turn pro] could be twenty-four, twenty-five. Be­cause at that age, your body is ma­ture, and I guess ma­ture in the sport in a way. I think I have two or three years more for me to im­prove… If I had the drive or in­spi­ra­tion, I would.”

And what will hap­pen to his other pas­sion and pro­fes­sion? “Ah, showbiz will be there, like bas­ket­ball will be there,” he points out. “So it’s all about time man­age­ment. Kasi Dad na­man, na­pagsabay niya, e. No one can tell me he slacked off be­cause Dad won mul­ti­ple awards while in showbiz. So, you know, if he can do it, why can’t I? There’s noth­ing wrong with do­ing, like, mul­ti­ple things at once if you know you love it.”

But if a lu­cra­tive of­fer comes to the Sun­day Pi­naSaya co-host to star in a big showbiz project that will re­quire his full at­ten­tion, then he may be forced to make a choice. “I guess it’s gonna be the most ma­ture de­ci­sion of my life,” the self- con­fessed easy­go­ing guy re­marks. “Like, where do I go first? Where should I rest first?”

THE BOND OF BROTH­ERS

An­dre finds it funny when peo­ple com­pare him and his younger brother Kobe as bas­ket­ball play­ers. “’Cause they’re not gonna get the an­swers they want,” he rea­sons. “We play dif­fer­ent po­si­tions, e. He’s a guard; I’m a for­ward­cen­ter. I play in the Philip­pines; he plays in Amer­ica. I’m un­der­sized; he’s got per­fect height. So the more you com­pare, the more you won’t find an­swers.”

In­deed, the kuya only has praise for what younger brother Kobe has achieved so far. “I’m happy, like, that was our dream ever since,” An­dre points out. “Kaya when he was mak­ing his name and when he was prov­ing him­self, it’s a good feel­ing, also to me as a kuya. So, you know what, he did it with­out his name. He did it with his skills... Pretty much he did it ’cause he wanted to do it.”

The kuya is aware that Kobe looks up to him, too.

“But I just hear it from in­ter­views,” An­dre says, try­ing to play the com­pli­ment down. “I un­der­stand he just wants to say it straight up, like, he just looks up to me ’cause I guess ever since na­man, I was there to take care of him. But ngayon, I look up to him when it comes to sports or be­ing ma­ture and in­de­pen­dent…

“At least, we look up to each other and not to any­one else—and Dad also. We don’t look up to role mod­els that are not us in a way, like, we don’t look up to ac­tors or other ath­letes. We just look up to each other, which is good ’cause we keep our cir­cle re­ally, re­ally small.”

Kobe walks into the den for a lit­tle makeup and hair styling. He has a big smile on his face, as he greets ev­ery­one with “Hi, ku­musta?” His de­cid­edly out­go­ing per­son­al­ity con­trasts with An­dre’s laid­back at­ti­tude.

An­dre throws our ques­tion to Kobe, “Did you ask for ad­vice from me?” A puz­zled Kobe asks him back, “What?” They ban­ter a bit, and An­dre goes back to our in­ter­view.

“No’ng bata po kami, like, he’d ask ad­vice from me,” An­dre says, “But there were times I didn’t have an­swers, so I just made it up or I just made sure it was a good, like, a white lie.”

Kobe in­ter­jects: “I al­ways be­lieved him.”

An­dre agrees: “He al­ways be­lieved me, yeah. No’ng kids kami, he asked for ad­vice. But now we’re older, I ask ad­vice from him, of course—how to dress up, how it’s like in Amer­ica, about bas­ket­ball.” “Mostly dress­ing up,” Kobe stresses. His older brother con­curs: “Yeah, mostly dress­ing up, kasi I never had style. He just looks nice even if he didn’t try. I have had style be­fore, kaya hope­fully now, you know, like, when I go out and all, he’s al­ways there—un­til he’s here.”

As of this writ­ing, Kobe had flown to Le­banon with the rest of the Gi­las Pilip­inas team to com­pete in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017, where they would reach the quar­ter­fi­nals. Then the Philip­pine del­e­ga­tion was set to see ac­tion in Malaysia for SEA Games 2017, from Au­gust 19 to 30.

Af­ter Kobe ful­fills his du­ties as a na­tional team mem­ber, the one be­lieved by many of his com­pa­tri­ots to be the fu­ture of Philip­pine bas­ket­ball will re­turn to the U.S. to join his new coach, team­mates, and class­mates at Cal State.

“My goal is just to, you know, play in col­lege, do my best,” Kobe says. “And then, hope­fully, play pro­fes­sional over­seas be­cause, ah, mahi­rap dito sa Philip­pines, e. Full of pol­i­tics. I mean, ev­ery­where you go, it’s full of pol­i­tics… So, if it’s Europe, if it’s some­where in Asia, if it’s in the NBA, I don’t care. I just wanna play in the high­est level of bas­ket­ball. But as of now, I’m just fo­cused on rep­re­sent­ing my coun­try and ang col­lege ko.”

With ev­ery step that Kobe will take in reach­ing his goal, An­dre and the rest of their fam­ily will be there, watch­ing, ap­plaud­ing, and root­ing for him. Kobe will do the same for his other sib­lings, par­tic­u­larly An­dre, his kuya and his best man.

ns va s oe sh / n ui ng pe t or sh dn teui inng prpe /t onor onsh tt& colo vepo eete d slin ngpr lo :e: bedr koan

Here’s a nifty fea­ture in the liv­ing room: the two low white swivel cof­fee ta­bles, each of which has a ro­tat­ing top that re­veals a hid­den stor­age so­lu­tion. The stor­age part is where Ben­jie stows his kids’ books and toys.

In Novem­ber 2016, An­dre vis­ited Kobe in Omaha, Ne­braska, where the lat­ter was then on his fresh­man year at Creighton Univer­sity. This was be­fore Kobe trans­ferred to Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Northridge in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia.

An­dre’s visit was, of course, im­mor­tal­ized on Kobe’s In­sta­gram (_kokowave). Left photo, show­ing the broth­ers on a bench with cups of ice cream, came with the cap­tion: “this guy vis­ited me here in Omaha for a cou­ple of days and he just made my whole year. miss you al­ready, Dré. to in­fin­ity and be­yond”

To the cu­ri­ous, “Kokowave” has be­come Kobe’s nick­name, a vari­ant of Koko. “Ever since I got there in the States,” he says, “my friends called me Koko, so it stuck with me.”

The kuya in the fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to Dad Ben­jie, has been look­ing for a suit­able place of his own: ei­ther for him­self or as an in­vest­ment op­tion. “Gusto nga ni An­dre na bu­mili ng condo for in­vest­ment. Sabi ko, ‘Sige, mag-usap tayo.’”

Ben­jie ad­mits that when it comes to big pur­chases, he doesn’t like to med­dle with An­dre’s de­ci­sions. He would come in only when An­dre asks for his opin­ion. “Like, sa kotse, ’yong first car niya. ’Ta­pos, bu­mili rin siya ng van for tap­ing. Then, meron siyang old car. Kung makikita mo diyan sa labas, ’yong Mercedes na black.”

An­dre loves cars, vin­tage or mod­ern—a love that An­dre must have in­her­ited from his dad. “Mahilig din ako kasi,” Ben­jie says. “So nag-re­store siya, tin­u­lun­gan ko. Na-re­store namin. And then, meron pa siya sa shop na 1969 na Mus­tang. So in­aayos pa. Mura lang namin nabili, pero gano’n ta­laga. Pag hindi ka pas­sion­ate about cars, ’yon [ gas­tos] ta­laga ang unang mai­isip mo.”

Their love for cars, how­ever, doesn’t sit well with the lady of the house. With a laugh, Ben­jie says: “Kaya ’yong wife mo, na­ga­galit. Min­san nga, may tinit­ing­nan akong kotse na na­man, sasabi­hin niya, ‘Ano na na­man ’yan?’”

The younger brother ad­mits that af­ter he left for the States in 2013, he be­gan miss­ing his Kuya An­dre a lot. Kobe would sud­denly re­mem­ber those ran­dom “lakad” that he and An­dre used to make just out of kicks. “And he [An­dre] re­al­ized na he has no one to make kulit. There’s no one to ran­domly wake up and, like, ‘Let’s go eat and hang out.’”

The sib­ling re­la­tion­ship that they had at the time was a dif­fi­cult one, Kobe says: “It’s hard na parang it’s like a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship. But we make the most out of it since there’s a lot of elec­tron­ics, there’s a lot of gad­gets, that could help us stay con­nected.”

Kobe is aware of the fact that the pub­lic can’t get enough of him. But in­stead of get­ting pres­sured by the at­ten­tion and the ex­pec­ta­tions, Kobe fo­cuses on do­ing good and mak­ing a name for him­self.

“At first, it started as be­ing, like, ‘Anak ni Ben­jie Paras.’ So that kind of mo­ti­vated me to make my own name. And the only way I could do that first was through bas­ket­ball. And I think I did a good job be­cause now peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate me. When they see me, it’s not ‘Anak ni Paras.’ It’s just, like, ‘Oh, it’s Kobe Paras.’ So I worked hard for it, I can say. There are a lot of peo­ple out there who wanna do stuff, who wanna be some­thing, but they don’t put in the hard work.”

Ri­ley and Sam, An­dre and Kobe’s half-broth­ers, share a room on the sec­ond floor. This room is fur­nished with a por­ta­ble plas­tic bas­ket­ball hoop stand, where the boys can prac­tice shoot­ing; sev­eral open shelves that hold their toys; and two iden­ti­cal kid­die loft beds, which have draw­ers and pullout desks un­der­neath.

To add a per­sonal touch, Ben­jie let the kids write their names and draw their fa­vorite car­toon char­ac­ters on the roller blinds. “’Ta­pos, ’yong mga Lego toys nila, ayaw na ipa­galaw sa kanila ng mommy nila, kasi maayos na, buo na. E, sin­isira lang nila.”

No­tice the floor­ing? It’s lam­i­nated wood. Ben­jie says he chose this type of floor­ing be­cause it’s per­fect for the kids who keep run­ning around, jump­ing and drop­ping things on the floor.

“Ang ma­g­a­nda sa lam­i­nated wood, mainit. So ’yong mga bata, pag naka-air­con, hindi siya malamig. ’Tsaka kahit mag­bagsak, hindi main­gay. ’Yong lam­i­nated kasi, be­fore you in­stall it, you will put a soft na parang cloth, so pag naka­paa ka, mararam­daman mo.”

Kobe is a dot­ing kuya to his younger sib­lings Sam, Ri­ley, and Ge­orja. And be­cause he doesn’t see them of­ten, he has promised him­self that as soon as he starts mak­ing money, he would go ahead and spoil the three kids. “I’ve been strug­gling my whole life. I just want them to be happy,” Kobe says. “But I’m not gonna spoil them to the point na they’re go­ing to brag about it. I’m just gonna spoil them, like, if they have high grades or they do good in bas­ket­ball, I’ll give them a nice sur­prise. I just wanna be that kuya that treats them well.”

Be­fore you can reach An­dre’s bed­room, you have to pass by a re­ceiv­ing area, which is a large room fur­nished with a couch, a car­pet, a TV set, and shelves over­flow­ing with Ad­ven­ture Time mem­o­ra­bilia.

Those aren’t real brick walls, by the way. They’re just wall­pa­per, which An­dre per­son­ally picked.

Lin­ing the walls are An­dre’s elec­tric and acous­tic gui­tars, as well as dumb­bells and other gym equip­ment. The dou­ble doors—plas­tered with the signs “Re­stricted Area / Keep Out” and “Au­tho­rized Per­son­nel Only”—open up to An­dre’s in­ner bed­room. In case you’re won­der­ing what those red ca­ble wires firmly fixed on the door are, they’re ac­tu­ally ten­sion ca­bles or door an­chor re­sis­tance bands.

The ex­er­cise equip­ment comes in handy when An­dre doesn’t have the time to work out in the gym. It’s for up­per body and core (trunk) ex­er­cises.

An­dre is proud to say that he was per­son­ally able to cover the ex­penses for the con­struc­tion of the mod­ern-in­dus­tri­al­ist toi­let-and-bath in his room. He got big help from his fa­ther Ben­jie, who took on the role of con­trac­tor and made sure that ev­ery­thing went smoothly. Ben­jie, a fan of in­te­rior de­sign TV shows and mag­a­zines, is equally proud of this project.

Kobe and An­dre hold up their fa­vorite stuffed toys, char­ac­ters from the an­i­mated TV se­ries Ad­ven­ture Time.

An­dre says he’s ob­sessed with the car­toon se­ries fea­tur­ing a boy named Finn and the boy’s shape-shift­ing yel­low-col­ored dog named Jake: “It’s been my ad­dic­tion, pretty much. I’m ad­dicted to Ad­ven­ture Time. It is re­ally weird. And it doesn’t make sense. I think that’s why it’s nice for me. It tar­gets all au­di­ences.”

He proudly re­veals that he also bought Ad­ven­ture Time mer­chan­dise for him­self. And he doesn’t feel he’s too old for it. “Oh, no. I even have Ad­ven­ture Time po­los I could wear. Can I wear them? Fans give me gifts din. But these are just stuff I buy.”

The for­ever-young An­dre adds that he also likes Steven Uni­verse, an­other pop­u­lar an­i­mated se­ries of the Car­toon Net­work, about a boy’s com­ing of age.

Ben­jie, here in an old photograph pub­lished in the April 2000 is­sue of YES! Mag­a­zine (above) and in a photo taken for this is­sue (below), clar­i­fies that he’s not the strict type. He says he knows the reper­cus­sions if he be­comes too hard on his sons.

“Hindi ako ’yong mahig­pit. Kasi meron akong mga kak­i­lala na ’yong mga anak ni­lang lalake, they lie to their par­ents about where they’re go­ing. I don’t want that to hap­pen. So ako, ‘Sa’n na na­man ’yan? Ano ’yan? Sige, sige. Basta you go to a place, ’yong me­dyo dis­creet na­man.’ ‘Opo.’ Ayun, okey na­man. Okey na­man ’yong re­la­tion­ship namin.”

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