CaRMiNa VillaRROEl kaRla EstRada
M other and actress Carmina Villarroel-Legaspi considers herself twice blessed. In 2001, she gave birth to beautiful twins Maverick Peter and Maria Cassandra. In 2012, her longtime love and partner Zoren Legaspi pulled off a flashmob proposal (Carmina said yes!) and they were married minutes later in the surprise garden wedding of the year.
In January this year, the twins, aka Mavy and Cassy, celebrated their 16th birthday with a Boho-themed comingof-age party.
“Ang bilis!” Carmina exclaims, with a mix of disbelief and sadness in her voice. “Akala namin, forever silang gano’n lang, forever lang silang babies.”
This, she goes on to say, is probably why she and Zoren didn’t have any more kids. “Siguro kasi, first-time parents kami. ’Tapos, dalawa agad. At di lang dalawa, pair agad— boy and girl! So parang masyado kaming na‑overwhelm, ’tsaka masyado kami nakatutok. Pero when they were growing up, napapaisip ka na sana pala nasundan pa natin ng isa. O isa pa, para apat.”
No regrets, though. “Feeling ko, baka ’yon talaga ang gusto ni God, na dalawa na lang. Pair na ’yan, okey na ’yan, happy ka na. Hindi naman kami nagpigil, hindi rin naman kami nag‑super‑try magka‑baby ulit. So baka ito na lang talaga.”
While raising twins is difficult enough, the 41-year-old actress admits that parenting teenagers is nothing short of a challenge. “Alam mo, mahirap. Parang mas gusto ko, toddler na lang sila.”
She explains that the issues and concerns of adolescents are totally different. Still, Carmina says, she’s lucky her twins are good kids. “I’m very thankful na kahit na nandiyan na sila sa barkada stage, they still prioritize family. ’ Yon talaga ’tinuturo ko sa kanila, na dapat pamilya ang una.”
Known to be a fun and affectionate couple, Zoren and Carmina have an easygoing vibe. This is palpable in their family commercials and extends to their parenting style and their house rules for Cassy and Mavy.
“Hindi naman kami strict,” says Carmina. “They can go out with their friends, have dinner, punta sa mall. We’re fine with that. Kasi gusto ko naman na maging normal silang mga bata. Gusto ko ma‑experience naman nila ’yong gano’n.”
The twins don’t have a curfew because Carmina feels there’s no need for it—for now, at least. “Meron kasi kaming Viber [messaging app] group, so
Mommy Carmina thinks a showbiz career for Mavy and Cassy is possible, but then again, the future may hold something else altogether.
“Actually, gusto talaga nila ’yong sumayaw. Hindi ko pa alam kung gusto nila ’yong acting. Sabi ko naman, kung gusto talaga ninyo, tapusin n’yo muna ’yong college n’yo, and if you really want to be an artista like [me and Zoren], then go.
“Ngayon kasi, ang gusto nila, sa business side talaga. Parang they want to have their own business. They have two more years in high school, so parang dapat pag-isipan na nila ‘yong course nila. Consistent, e— business.”
On the differences between Mavy and Cassy:
“Maverick is a morning person. He sleeps early, he wakes up early. Si Cassy, baliktad. Si Cassy sleeps late, ’tapos medyo mahirap gisingin sa umaga pag papasok sa school.
“’Tapos, si Maverick, medyo OC [obsessive-compulsive]. Parang ako. Very organized sa mga gamit niya. Si Cassy, hindi naman siya magulo, pero mas OC lang ’yong lalake ko. Cassy is like Zoren, na nandiyan lang ’yong gamit… hindi naman magulo, hindi rin maayos, pero alam niya kung nasaan ’yong mga gamit niya.
“Maverick is somehow like me. Ako kasi, pagdating ko sa bahay, pahinga lang nang konti, ’tapos gagawa na ako ng homework. Si Cassy, chill lang muna. So hindi mo siya puwedeng sabihan, ‘Cassy, do your homework.’ Kahit no’ng bata siya, meron siyang sariling diskarte. Parang si Zoren. Pero makita mo naman, ‘Ay, nagawa na.’ She has her own concept of time. Mas gusto niya ’yong nagkacram, ’yong gano’n. Ako naman, oh my God, hate ko ’yan. Pareho silang mag-ama.”
nagre-report sila,” she says. “Before umalis, nagpapaalam na sila. So alam na namin ang details, saan, sino’ng kasama, anong oras uuwi, bakit gano’ng time. E, nasusunod naman. Hindi naman sila ’yong pag sinabi nilang dinner, twelve midnight na sila uuwi. Hindi. Right after dinner, uuwi na talaga sila.”
To her relief, the kids are not in the partying or barhopping stage yet. When that time comes, she and Zoren may have to start imposing a curfew. “Baka sumama ako sa bar!” Carmina says with a nervous giggle. “‘Tatay [Zoren], do’n tayo sa kabilang table.’ Di ba? Nakakaloka!”
Another thing that makes her—or any other parent, for that matter— nervous is the thought of her babies starting to date. “Naiisip ko siya because that’s the reality,” she confesses. “I don’t want to be selfish… Kasi dumaan ako do’n. Ayoko ipagkait ’yon sa kanila, pero sa tamang edad.”
She adds: “Like I said, mababait ’yong mga anak ko, kaya alam nila na hindi ’yon priority. Ang priority e pagaaral nila.”
Luckily, her kids exercise good judgment when it comes to choosing friends, and this helps calm Carmina’s mommy nerves. “Kilala ko ’yong mga kaibigan nila. Importante ’yon sa mga magulang—kilalanin ang mga kaibigan ng mga anak mo.”
Starting ’ em young
Carmina shares this parenting advice: Start molding them while they’re young.
“’ Yong foundation talaga ang importante, e. Kasi, kung maganda ’yong naitatag mong foundation sa kanila, di ka na mahihirapan.”
A concrete example is how she and Zoren have trained their kids not to be heavily dependent on electronic gadgets.
“Wala naman akong ini-impose sa kanilang rules, especially sa social media, kasi they’re not addicted to it. Siguro kasi, baka late ko sila na-start sa mga gadgets. Alam naman nila na pag-aaral muna, at pag nandito sa bahay, pag kaharap kami— especially pag kumakain, kahit sa labas— hindi puwedeng may hawak na telepono o nanonood ng TV. Basta gusto ko, nag-uusap kami. So siguro, kung maaga mo na-instill ’yon sa kanila, hindi ka na makulit ngayon.”
It also helps that they’ve exposed the kids to physical activities and sports. Mavy plays basketball and tennis. Cassy, on the other hand, is a volleyball player who also plays basketball. “Nagwoworkout din kami together,” says their mom. “So marami silang ginagawa, kaya hindi masyado ma-social-media.”
Ultimately, they encourage their kids to talk—to her and Zoren, especially. “Bata pa lang sila, gano’n na kami sa kanila, e. Ine-encourage na namin sila magkuwento… from small things like ‘How was school?’”
Now that the kids are young adults, the openness remains. “Very thankful kami dahil nag-o-open-up sila, so pinaguusapan namin lahat— anything under the sun… Kasi ’yon ang kinalakihan nila. Kahit na busy kami sa trabaho, we make sure na alam namin what’s going on in their lives.”
Their topics, she says, include even sensitive subjects such as death and suicide, as well as the problems of their peers and classmates. For Carmina, it’s important to make her kids aware of what’s happening in the real world. “As much as we protect them in our house or sa school, iba, e. ’ Yong mga dapat mong matutunan sa real world, di mo matutunan sa eskuwelahan ’yan.”
Actress, commercial model, wife, and mother of two— Carmina does it all and she apparently does it well. But the showbiz personality who has been in the industry for almost 30 years claims she has no clue on how she managed to survive—no, thrive—especially when the twins were much younger. “Siguro, if you really love what you’re doing, you’ll find ways. It’s a matter of prioritizing… and time management.”
What’s tricky, though, was finding time for herself—particularly in the early years. “Magtratrabaho ako, ’tapos ’yong konting time sa bahay, I would spend with my kids. Kung ’yong iba natutulog, ako, di ako natutulog. Do’n ako sa kambal nakatutok.”
She recalls catching up on her zzz’s in the car going to work or on her way home. “’ Yon ’yong ginawa ko para magampanan ko ang pagiging artista, nanay, at asawa.”
Clearly, all that she has done in the past has paid off, having raised two wellrounded and good-natured 16-year-olds. This, while nurturing a strong marriage with husband Zoren! But Carmina doesn’t want to call her hardships a “sacrifice.”
“I love what I’m doing and mga anak ko ’to, e,” she says. “Siyempre uunahin mo muna pamilya mo, and then your work.”
On her showbiz idol: “I want to be like Gloria Romero. ’Yong tumanda na [ sa showbiz]. Di ba, nakasama ko siya sa Palibhasa Lalake? Every time na titignan ko siya, sinasabi ko, ‘Tita Glo, I want to be like you.’ Gusto ko maging gano’n, kasi nga ito lang ang alam kong gawin, at mahal ko ginagawa ko. So ayoko magbigay ng time limit. Basta hangga’t kaya ko, hangga’t gusto ako ng mga tao, hangga’t may projects ako, dito ako. I’m here to stay.”
( Palibhasa Lalake, directed by Johnny Manahan, was a sitcom that ran from 1987 to 1998.) On Carmina: White Top, RELIGIOSO Brown Pants w/ ring, SFERA
On her love for showbiz:
“When I was starting— mga thirteen ako no’n, di ba? Siguro no’ng mga fifteen, sixteen ako, alam ko na, na this is what I want to do. Pinagsabay ko, e— nag-aaral ako, nagaartista ako. When I joined showbiz, I knew this is what I really wanted. Gusto ko na talaga ’to. Nag-eenjoy ako.
“Oo, mahirap, it’s not an easy job. But I just love what I’m doing, I’m in love with my craft. Looking back, wala naman akong naging problema with anyone, with my coactors, directors, producers… I want to believe na pag sinabi mong Carmina, alam mong she’s a very dedicated actress. Alam mong she loves her profession. Kasi I don’t think tatagal ako nang ganito, na more than half my life nasa industry, kung wala akong passion and dedication.” On Carmina: Olive Jumpsuit, MISS SELFRIDGE