Hello, Alas Joaquin!
A not-so-little “Little Prince,” Baby Alas has certainly got his good looks from his artista parents. But who does he look more like, Mommy Kylie or Daddy Aljur? “Akin ’yong mata, kasi singkit siya,” Kylie points out. “The hair, kay AJ [Aljur’s nickname]. ’Yong dimples, Abrenica ’yon. Skin color, parang halo namin. So halo-halo siya talaga.” Aljur doesn’t see things quite the same way. “Hindi ko na makita,” he laughs. “Ang nakikita ko, si Alas na. Siya na.”
No matter who Alas takes after, one thing’s for sure: the adorable baby boy is now as much of an Instagram star as his parents, who have taken to social media to share how proud they are of their Little Prince.
So, sabi ko, parang eto na ’yong right timing. Kailangan ko nang sabihin.”
Due to its high ratings, Encantadia’s run, which began in July 2016, had been extended to May 2017. It was a requel—a term coined by Encantadia creator Suzette Doctolero and director Mark Reyes, blending the words remake and sequel— of the original 2005 show of the same title. Its story chiefly revolves around the four royal sisters Pirena, Amihan, Alena, and Danaya. They are all born to lead and become great warriors, but Amihan is the one chosen to rule.
As Amihan, Kylie had many actionfilled and dramatic scenes that could jeopardize her pregnancy. What then?
“Actually, ang dami ngang nangyari, e,” she says, admitting that her situation put the production in a quandary. “But the Enca set was so ano, so flexible. They’re really nice. They handled it really nicely. I mean, I’m really thankful for them, lalo na si Direk ’tsaka ’yong producer namin. They talked to me and told me na ‘If you want to do this, we can adjust to you or whatever.’
“But ’yong final decision was to take me out na. Kasi, siyempre, kailangang nag-a-action si Amihan. Siya ’yong pinakamagaling na mandirigma, so imposibleng nakaano lang siya [ hindi nag-a-action].”
When the show’s fans, who called themselves Encantadiks, got wind of the new development in the story, they went berserk on social media. After all, Amihan ( played by Iza Calzado in the original show) is a well-loved character, and she’s not meant to die in the story. Encantadiks put the blame on Kylie’s boyfriend Aljur, accusing him of pulling the popular actress down.
Aljur remains unperturbed by the online bashing.
“Kasi, for me, what’s the big deal?” he coolly says. “Sabihin na natin na big deal for you, guys, dahil maraming nagmamahal kay Kylie. But for me kasi, tao lang kami, e, di ba? Para sa akin, normal ’yon, di ba? Me taong nagmamahalan, parehas n’yong ginawa, me nabuo dahil sa pagmamahalan.
“So nag-prioritize ako sa kalagayan ni Kylie. Pangalawa, ’yong maibibigay ko lahat ng gusto niyang kainin, ’tsaka ’yong maging komportable siya kasama ’ko. Sinabi ko sa sarili ko na sa buong nine months ng pagbubuntis niya, hindi dapat lilipas ’yong isang araw na hindi ko siya nakakasama at naibibigay ’yong gusto niya. Do’n ako nag-focus.
“Nagbigay din ako ng panahon sa family ko, lalong-lalo na sa tatay ko, kasi ang pagiging tatay, do’n din ang punta ko, e. Apat kaming magkakapatid na napalaki niya nang maayos. So, ’yong lessons na ’binibigay niya sa amin, do’n ako nag-focus. Hindi ko masyadong binigyan ng panahon ’yong mga bashers.”
Kylie believes that Aljur is “very misunderstood” by a lot of people.
“The thing that people don’t understand about him is that, ’yon nga, sobrang totoo siya sa sarili niya na he doesn’t like editing,” she explains. “Before, I didn’t understand it either. Kasi, ’yon nga, e, alam ko ’yong laro ng showbiz. Minsan talaga, kailangan mong timplahin.
“But then, siya, sabi niya, ‘No, eto ang paniniwala ko. Kailangan kong panindigan ’yong paniniwala ko. And then, after a while, sabi ko, ‘Oo nga, ’no, kailangan mong magpakatotoo.’ Sabi niya nga, kailangan ding masaya ’ko sa personal life ko. Hindi puro work ako. So kailangang ’pakita ko kung sino ako. Nirespeto ko na rin ’yon. Natututo na din ako. Ang saya din naman talaga.
“Sobrang ano lang ng tao, may expectation na kailangang perfect ’yong artista. Kailangan, perfect. Kailangan, ganito. Minsan, nakakalimutan nila na may sariling pinagdadaanan. Not everything is what you see on TV, or whatever.”
When Kylie’s Amihan character died in the January 26 episode of Encantadia, the actress continued to appear in the series, but with limited participation as the spirit of Amihan. Encantadia wrapped up on May 19, 2017, and Kylie took an indefinite leave from showbiz.
Aljur, on the other hand, got a new lease on life, career-wise. After his contract with GMA Network expired, the homegrown Kapuso actor found a new talent manager in Jon Ilagan, a
“She’s a great mother from the very start,” Aljur says of Kylie. “All praise ako sa kanya dahil tinutukan niya talaga. Binitawan niya lahat. Nag-focus siya sa pagiging nanay even before dumating si Alas… I’m proud of her bilang partner ko sa buhay.”
former actor and TV director, who put up his own talent agency, Eleven Eleven Entertainment.
“I’m grateful na naniniwala sila sa akin, sa kakayahan ko,” he says glowingly of his new management team. “Kinausap nila ’yong mga network, even GMA, kung saan ako maganda, ’yong best place for me. Ang pinili nila is ABS. Grateful din ako to ABS-CBN, kasi naniniwala pa rin sila sa akin. Nakalipat ako.”
Aljur clarifies that there’s no bad blood between him and GMA, the network that discovered him and built him up as a leading man.
“Well, me kanya-kanya kasi tayong lakad. Me kanya-kanya tayong dahilan pagdating sa aspeto ng paglilipat ng network. Grateful ako sa kanila. Sila rin naman ang nagpakilala sa akin, e. Sa kanila ako nagsimula. Isang dekada ako sa kanila. Sila rin ang nagbigay ng bread and
Plenty of natural light makes Aljur’s secondfloor sanctuary the ideal place to laze the afternoons away with a good book or with deep conversation. The “exposed brick” walls add to the charm of the minimally furnished space, which also serves as a gym and a study area.
This room is bare of decoration, save for the far-left wall, which is adorned with an unfinished mural painted by Kylie herself. Aljur says that he gave Kylie free rein on the subject of the painting, and she came up with the nude forms.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya na ‘Gusto kong magkaroon ka ng touch sa bahay. Basta mag‑paint ka.’ Artist si Kylie, e. Si Kylie, yes, mahilig mag‑drawing ’yan ng images, depends on how she feels.”
butter ko. Sila ’yong dahilan kung bakit ako nakatulong sa pamilya ko, kung bakit ako andito sa Maynila.
“So, I’m thankful sa lahat ng ginawa nila para sa akin. It’s just that lumilipas ’yong panahon at maraming nangyayari. At kapag maraming nangyayari, natututo tayo sa buhay…
“Marami tayong pagkakamali sa buhay, e. ’ Yong pagkakamali, tinatrato ko ’yan na lesson in life. Para pagdating ng panibagong pagsubok, mas alam ko nang hawakan, o mas matalino ka na, mas alam mo na. So, kino-consider ko ’yon na parte siya ng pag-grow ko. Pero for me, wala akong ano [ problema] sa GMA. For a time, yes. Di ba, nagkaroon tayo ng galit or tampo? Pero ngayon, wala na. Grateful na ’ko, kasi totoo naman, e, ang laki ng naitulong nila sa akin.”
Aljur has his biggest supporter in Kylie. “I’m happy for him, very, very happy,” she says. “Siyempre, nakita ko, nasubaybayan ko ’yon no’ng wala siyang work… Masaya na siya na he has another chance. No, not really another chance, but a chance to start anew, di ba? ’Tsaka ngayon, ano na, mas focused na siya sa acting niya.”
Last August 8, Aljur appeared on ABS- CBN for the first time via the hit
action- drama series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. But that acting gig wasn’t part of the projects offered by the Kapamilya network. It was lead star Coco Martin who made things possible.
“Grateful din ako kay Coco,” Aljur says. “Kasi no’ng nalaman ni Coco na lilipat ako, pinakiusapan niya daw na sa Probinsyano muna ako.”
BABY ALAS ARRIVES
Aljur’s first taping day for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano became even more memorable and special because it coincided with Kylie’s date with the stork. He recalls that in the early hours of the morning of August 1, his fiancée started having contractions. But they decided that he would go to his taping and she, to the hospital. He called up his mother so that a family member would be with the mom-to-be while he was working.
When Kylie got to St. Luke’s Medical Center–Global City in Taguig City, she was brought to the water-birthing suite, since she had long decided that she would go for natural childbirth, which means giving birth in a tub of water. Then she went into labor, but the baby wouldn’t come out.
When Aljur finished taping his scenes for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, he got a call from his mother that Kylie was still in labor. Tired from work, he fell asleep, but upon waking up at dawn, he went to the hospital. There, he saw his younger brother Vin, also an ABS- CBN actor, with some of their friends. Aljur took over in looking after Kylie.
Later that day, in the afternoon, he was set to attend a press conference for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. He was hesitant to leave his ladylove’s side. But Kylie told him, “Mahal, puntahan mo na, para kay Alas.”
So the actor went to the presscon. When he came back, she was still in labor. Her cervix wouldn’t dilate enough to accommodate childbirth. Kylie and Aljur did some walking exercises to induce further labor, and then she sat in the tub of water.
At around three a.m. on August 4, he left for another taping, this time on location in Porac town, Pampanga. Seven hours later, at 10:31 p.m., Kylie and Aljur’s panganay arrived via medicated vaginal birth. After four days of earnest trying, she had realized that water natural birth wasn’t happening for her.
Kylie looks back on her birthing experience with mixed emotions.
“Masaya naman ako, although no’ng nando’n ako, it was hell. Kasi nga, contractions became… Wala kang control. You can’t tell your contractions to stop. Talagang ’yong katawan ko lang ’yong nagpu-push-out ng baby. So kahit gusto mong magpahinga or matulog, wala.
“On the fourth day, nanginginig na ako, ’cause I can’t control my bladder. Kasi nag-crack na ’yong water ko. And the contractions get harder pag gano’n, e. Ayaw niyang bumaba. So I was just having contractions with no progress. Pagod na pagod na ako, wala pa akong tulog, nanginginig na ako.
“Ayaw kong mag- CS [cesarean section]. If I lose consciousness, isi- CS ako, so kailangan ko nang magdesisyon kung ano. Ayaw ko kasing maggamot sana, e. Ayaw kong mag-epidural. I have nothing against epidural, but as much as I can, sana natural, para pati siya [the baby], hindi siya nakatikim ng gamot bago siya lumabas. But things don’t really happen the way you planned.”
When the baby finally came out, the first-time mom exclaimed: “Thank God, nakalabas ka na!”
The feeling of relief was more for the baby than the mother. “Kasi sinasabi nila na bumababa ’yong heart rate,” Kylie explains. “Siyempre, I was just really scared na baka may mangyari sa kanya. So, no’ng paglabas niya, ‘Oh, my God, I’m so happy, you’re here!’”
Looking at her newborn, she told him: “Kamukha mo ’yong tatay mo.”
At that time, the baby’s father was still taping in Porac, Pampanga. Aljur got a phone call from his mother, who was with Kylie. He recalls: “Sabi niya, ‘Anak, lumabas na. Ang gandang bata.’ Sabi ko, ‘Lapitan mo, lapitan mo.’ ‘’Nak, hindi puwede, dahil inaayos ng duktor. Bawal na kami.’ Sabi ko, ‘Lapitan mo, lapitan mo.’ ‘Sige, sige.’ Paglapit niya, umiyak [’ yong baby]. Wala na, umiyak na ’ko. ‘O, sige, Ma.’ ‘O, sige, ’nak, okey na, ha? Kailangan nang ibaba.’”
As he was putting down his phone, somebody from the production team motioned to the actor, saying “Aljur, take na tayo.” And Aljur’s quiet jubilation was comically cut.
Aljur lets out a hearty laugh when he remembers that moment. He then shares the story of his first meeting with his newborn.
“Nakakatawa, kasi pagbalik ko [ sa Metro Manila] from taping, kaya ko naman magsasakyan papunta do’n. Pero from hotel to St. Luke’s, nilakad ko siya. Hindi ko alam, naano ako. Hindi ko maexplain, basta.
“Pagpasok ko sa kuwarto, ang sabi sa akin ni Kylie, ‘Mahal, ’yong anak mo.’ Hindi
What does being a father mean to Aljur? The actor doesn’t reply immediately, giving the question deep thought. Then he says: “Before, ang daming nag-a-advice at nagsasabi, ‘Ano’ng pakiramdam ng pagiging tatay?’ Ngayon, na-discover ko na kung pa’no maging tatay talaga… Ang ibig sabihin ng pagiging tatay, you should put an effort sa pag-grow as a person. Kasi ’yong bata, kahit ano’ng sabihin mo sa kanya, he will look up to you. Kung ano ang ginagawa mo, ’yon ang tutularan niya.”
ko tinitingnan. Na-overwhelm ako. ’Tapos, pumunta ako sa may bintana. Medyo madrama nga, isip-isip lang. ’Tapos, inulit ni Kylie. ‘Mahal, ’yong anak mo.’ Hinawakan ko lang siya.”
Aljur didn’t cry anymore because, he says, “naiyak ko na” when he first heard the baby cry on the phone. But he felt peace.
To this day, Aljur feels peace whenever he sees his child.
“Ang laki ng ’pinagbago,” he says of his life now. “Dati, pag me ginagawa ako, pagka nagtatrabaho ako, bawat galaw ko, para sa akin, e. Para sa akin, para kay Kylie, pamilya ko. Ngayon, every decision I make, laging nasa likod si Alas. Ano ba’ng pakinabang nito kay Alas? Gano’n nabago ang buhay ko. Every small decision, kahit lumabas lang ako ng bahay, ano ba’ng pakinabang nito kay Alas? Kung hindi naman gano’n kaano [ kaimportante], dito na lang ako sa bahay. Gano’n niya nabago.”
HOPEFUL FOR THE FUTURE
Before their first child was born on August 4, Aljur and Kylie were already set on naming their baby boy Alas Joaquin. The name Alas had been on Aljur’s mind since his high school years. He was on a bus going from Pampanga to Manila, and was thinking of a name he would give to his future son.
“No’ng time na ’yon, nangangarap na ako para sa pamilya, e,” he says. “Sa pamilya ko. Lahat kasi kami sa pamilya, A ang simula ng pangalan. ‘Ano pa kayang A ang wala? Alas.’ Naisip ko ’yong deck of cards, ace.”
Ace— alas in Spanish and Filipino—is ranked as the highest card in each set: ace of spades, ace of hearts, ace of diamonds, ace of clubs. So the Spanish- derived Filipino word alas is identified in card games with luck.
Fast-forward to a few weeks before the baby’s arrival. Aljur was in the part of his house that he calls a sanctuary when the name Alas came to him again. He said the name to Kylie, but she didn’t warm up to his choice. And he thought, “Parang hindi nga maganda.” As days passed, though, he could hear her saying Alas.
Kylie confesses to finding the name Alas weird at first. That’s probably because in the English language, it’s an expression of grief, pity, or concern, as in the exclamation “Alas and alack!” In Spanish-derived Filipino, it also connotes time, as in alas dos, alas tres, alas kuwatro. She tried uttering Alas as if her son was already in her arms, and she eventually liked the sound of that name.
Then an idea hit her: add a second name starting with the letter J, so that the baby’s initials would be the same as his father’s. Aljur, whose real name is Alfonso Abrenica Jr., is nicknamed AJ.
She chose Joaquin for Baby Alas’s second name as a nod to Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in Walk the Line, the 2005 biopic of legendary country music singer-songwriter-musician Johnny Cash. Joaquin also won the award for best actor at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in France just last May 2017, for his role in the thriller film You Were Never Really Here.
If Aljur could have his way, he’d want Baby Alas to be christened on his first birthday. But his elders talked him out of his plan, explaining that baptism should be done “very soon.” No specific date has been set at press time.
Kylie, for her part, would like Baby Alas to be baptized in both Christian and Islamic rites. (When Robin Padilla converted from Christianity to Islam in the late 1990s, he did so together with his then-wife Liezl Sicangco and their children, including Kylie.) If and when that happens, she’s confident that her father Robin will turn up and finally see Baby Alas. Hopefully, too, Robin and Aljur will finally see eye to eye.
“Actually, sa totoo lang,” she points out, “sabi naman ni Papa na okey naman daw siya [ kay Aljur]. Gusto lang niya, official na, kasal na kami [ ni Aljur] bago kami pumunta sa kanya. ’ Yon lang ’yong sa kanya. As a father, siyempre, iniisip niya ’yong iniisip ng ibang tao na hindi kami kasal. And I understand that. I’m a girl, e. Tingin niya sa ’kin, little girl pa din. Gusto niya, kasal ’yong anak niya. And I understand that fully.”
But there’s the rub: “Ayoko din, on our side, na madaliin. Kasi marriage is not a joke. It’s a lifetime commitment. So we’re not rushing it din.”
She reiterates that her father has no problem with her fiancé: “He told me na he’s okey na with AJ, and he’s happy he [Aljur] has work.”
Baby Alas will be turning only three months old on November 4, but this early, the new parents look forward to having more babies. “I want a girl,” Kylie says, giggling. Aljur reasons that he’s only a year older than his brother Vin, which is why they practically grew up together. “Me ka-tandem ka sa kalokohan, lahat!” he laughs.
Then again, Kylie has an acting career that she’s intent on going back to. In fact, there are projects waiting for her to work on, including another sequel to Encantadia.
“I really love acting,” she asserts. “Makikita no’ng anak ko na hinahanap ko ’yon. Mararamdaman niya na parang may kulang kay Mommy, or ganyan. So naiintindihan ko na moms pala are… There are so many facets in one person. Sobrang galing. Kaya pala ang dami kong napapanood na mga babaeng ang daming jina-juggle [ na responsibilities]. I have more respect for them now talaga.”
It may take several months more for Kylie’s showbiz comeback to take place. First, she needs to prepare both herself and her baby. “I wanna give him, you know, the right amount of time for breastfeeding, brain development, and everything,” she points out. “’Tsaka gusto ko na may bond na talaga kami. Maalala niya ako. Nakakapraning, kasi minsan parang feeling ko, makakalimutan niya ako pag every other day I’m gone. ’Ta’s may show din si AJ, ayokong sabayan. Ayokong parehas kaming wala [ sa bahay].”
While Kylie is having her interview with YES!, Baby Alas cries from the adjacent room. “Gutom na ’yon,” the mother announces, as she rises from her seat and walks towards the door. She sees the house helper holding her son. Baby Alas stops crying.
The actress used to think that her pregnancy happened at the wrong time. Not anymore, not since he was born. “Feeling ko, right timing siya,” she explains. “Since I found purpose and one family na kami, I have more reason to work now. I have more focus now. I know what I’m working for now, I know what I’m gonna spend my money for. Hindi lang puro sa ’kin, sa ’kin, sa ’kin.”
Kylie gets Baby Alas from the house helper and carries him while leading us downstairs, where Aljur is talking to the rest of the YES! team. “Uy, may spaghetti pa?” she asks him. “Wala na, ubos na,” he replies, teasing. “Inubos ko na.”
They discuss what’s available for her to eat. We say our goodbyes. As we’re getting out of their red gate, we hear their chirpy voices wafting through the air.
Aljur says that his relationship with Kylie has improved since the arrival of Baby Alas: “Partners na kami. ’ Tapos, no’ng dumating pa ’yong baby, nabigyan kami ng tasks. Nag-improve ’yong relationship namin, ’yong partnership namin.”
“Mabait na bata” is how Aljur describes Alas, who is now the frequent star of his daddy’s Instagram posts. “Hindi siya maselan na bata. Iiyak lang ’yan pag gutom na or hindi na siya kumportable sa diaper.”
Exactly a month after giving birth, Kylie posted, on her Instagram account, this photo of Alas with his name spelled out in alphabet blocks laid out on his back. The new mommy addressed her newborn in her caption: “Our lives are so much more colorful with you in it. We love you baby boy. Song of our souls apple of our eyes .”
The proud father announced the birth of his baby boy on Instagram with this simple photo. The Spanish words “ALAS Diez Treinta Y Uno” refers to 10:31 p.m., the exact time Alas was born.
From afar, it looks like the framed piece on the left side of the corridor is a commissioned painting of the Abrenica siblings—Aljur, Allen, Alleah, and Avin, aka Vin. But it’s actually a crossstitched work by Aljur’s mom Amor. “Bata pa lang kami, nagko-cross-stitch na siya,” says the actor.
Hanging on the opposite side of the corridor are two posters—one of The Beatles, and the other, of the band’s lead vocalist John Lennon. “Idol na idol siya ng tatay ko,” Aljur says of Lennon. “Gusto ko lang kung pa’no niya [Lennon] makita ’yong mundo.”
This is Aljur’s former bedroom, which has been left unoccupied since the arrival of Baby Alas. It opens to a compact terrace that faces the west, making the space particularly pleasant just before sunset.
Aljur says this room won’t stay unoccupied for long: “Eventually, the plan is magiging baby room na ’to.”