DING­DONG MARIAN & BABY ZIA

Pic­ture Per­fect, Fu­ture Per­fect

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - text, in­ter­views & shoot pro­duc­tion by ANNA PINGOL photos by SHAIRA LUNA ART DI­REC­TION: JEREMIAH IDANAN SHOOT CO­OR­DI­NA­TION: IRENE MIS­LANG CHRIST­MAS STYLING: TEDDY MANUEL OF FLOW­ERS & EVENTS SPE­CIAL THANKS: RAMS DAVID OF TRIPLE A MAN­AGE­MENT INC. & PERRY LA

The good-look­ing Dantes fam­ily—Daddy Dong (Jose Sixto Gon­za­lez Dantes III, aka Ding­dong), Mommy Yan (Marian Rivera Gracia), and Baby Z (Maria Le­tizia, aka Zia)—couldn’t ask for any­thing more these days.

Ex­cept for maybe an ad­di­tional fam­ily mem­ber.

Zia, two years old at press time, specif­i­cally wants a baby brother. And her mom and dad are al­ready gear­ing up to give her one.

“Al­ways ready na­man,” Dong laughs. “Da­pat, oo. No’ng ’ki­nasal na­man kami, ’yon na­man ta­laga ’yong pakay namin— mag­palaki ng pam­ilya. So, in God’s time... kailan­gan din, ’hi­na­handa na namin ang sar­ili namin.”

For her part, Marian prom­ises to give show­biz work a rest af­ter her drama-fan­tasy se­ries Su­per Ma’am is over, so she can pre­pare for that mag­palaki ng pam­ilya goal: “Sabi ko nga ta­laga, sig­uro af­ter ng Su­per Ma’am, time na­man para sa sar­ili ko at saka do’n sa gusto nam­ing mang­yari ulit na magka­roon [ ng isa pang anak]. Siyem­pre, kailan­gan ko ring ala­gaan ’yong sar­ili ko para mag­ing healthy pa ’ko. Lalo kasi, pag pagod ako, stressed ako, wala akong tu­log, pa’no makak­abuo, di ba?”

But un­til a baby sib­ling ar­rives, the par­ents are fo­cus­ing all of their at­ten­tion on Zia. The su­per mom ad­mits that when she learned two years ago that she would be hav­ing a baby girl, she al­ready be­came ex­cited about the prospect of dress­ing her daugh­ter in ex­actly the same way Marian her­self dresses. In so­cial me­dia cul­ture, it’s called twin­ning.

“Kaya naku, baby pa lang ’yan, nakatwin­ning na kami,” says Marian of her mini-me.

Go­ing twin­ning never fails to ex­cite Marian. “Nag-e-ef­fort ta­laga ako diyan,” she elab­o­rates. “At saka, pag me event ta­laga, ‘Ay, alam ko na ang susuotin namin.’ Hindi ako nao-on-the-spot. Pi­na­plano ko la­hat. Christ­mas, New Year, a-at­tend kami ng wed­ding... La­hat yan, kahit busy ako, naku! Basta idea muna ang pri­or­ity ko. Itong Pasko [ na darat­ing], hindi ko pa na­pa­plano kung ano. Pero def­i­nitely, meron.”

Marian has a list of de­sign­ers who make dresses for the two of them. “De­pende sa mood ko kung kanino gusto kong mag­patahi. Kasi la­hat, patahi ko, e. Maarte ako, e. Gusto ko one piece lang [ ng tela]. Ayoko ng me ka­pare­has. Kam­ing dalawa lang.”

We can’t help ask­ing Ding­dong if he will at­tempt, should his sec­ond baby be a boy, to do a male ver­sion of twin­ning?

He laughs: “Haha! Hindi sig­uro. Siya lang [Marian] me trip no’n.”

Blessed with her par­ent’s good looks, Baby Z is also grow­ing up to be a charm­ing, smart, and talk­a­tive lit­tle hu­man be­ing. She’s so adorable that her par­ents are hav­ing a hard time trad­ing work with Zia qual­ity time. Us­ing mod­ern par­lance, they call this sep­anx, or sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety.

“Bawat se­gundo pa lang na mawalay ako pag pupunta akong work, gus­tong­gusto ko na siyang makita ulit,” Ding­dong ad­mits. “Kaya pag nasa ba­hay ako, wala akong ibang at­ten­tion kundi sa kanya.”

Marian, who has breast­fed Zia since birth, says things are even harder for her:

“Ka­pag dire-di­retso ’yong tra­baho ko, ’tapos aalis ako tu­log, pag-uwi ko tu­log? Me­dyo nasa-sad ako pag gano’n. Ang hi­rap, e.

“’Tapos, ka­pag wala na ako sa tabi niya, mas ma­bilis siyang mag­is­ing. Pero hang­gang hindi ako bum­a­ban­gon, hindi rin ’yan ba­ban­gon. Me mga times na pag dire-di­retso ’yong tra­baho ko, ’tapos nagigis­ing siya sa tabi, ginigis­ing niya ’ko. ‘Mama, wake up na, let’s play.’

“So, pag gano’n, hindi ko tinatang­gi­han kahit pagod pa ’ko, an­tok. Wala, gis­ing ka ta­laga. Baka mag­tampo, e.

“Pero sabi ko nga, hindi na­man for­ever na gano’n. At saka, sabi ko nga, kung anu­man ang gi­na­gawa kong tra­baho ngayon, e, ini­isip ko na lang, para sa kanya, sa amin, sa fam­ily. Kum­baga, kam­ing mag-asawa, mag­ta­tra­baho tayo para sa fu­ture natin. Higit lalo, mabi­gyan si Zia ng kung anu­man ang gusto nam­ing ibi­gay sa kanya. Im­por­tante sa kanya, ma­g­a­n­dang school, kasi ang lak­ing fac­tor ng school sa per­son­al­ity na made-de­velop sa anak mo, e. Siyem­pre, ibibi­gay namin ’yong pinaka the best para sa kanya.”

At this point, Baby Z is un­de­ni­ably a daddy’s girl. When Ding­dong and Marian di­vided their par­ent­ing job, Marian ex­plains, it was she who took on the role of dis­ci­plinar­ian.

“Sabi kasi ni Dong, ‘E, ikaw na ’yong madalas niyang kasama, alan­gan na­mang ako pa ’yong ma­sun­git sa kanya pag nagkaka­mali siya. So, baka mas mag­ing iwas siya sa akin. Hindi kat­u­lad ikaw, lagi niyang kasama.’ Oo nga na­man.

“Pero takot ’yan sa akin,” Marian says of Zia. “At saka, ano ’yan, pag galit na ’ko, ‘Mama, sorry. Mama, sorry.’ Magso-sorry siya. ‘Mama, love na.’ At saka, pag ako nag-iiyak-iyakan, ‘Mama, stop. Love na.’ Malamb­ing, so­bra...

“Spoiled din na­man siya sa amin. Pero in a nice way. Hindi to the point na mag­ing bratinella. Dahil ako mismo, hindi siya puwe­deng mag­ing bratinella sa akin. At saka, takot nga siya sa akin. Sa akin, sumusunod ’yan.”

Both blessed with good show­biz ca­reers, Ding­dong and Marian— pop­u­larly known, by the way, by their uni-name DongYan—are noth­ing but thank­ful for life’s con­tin­ued bless­ings. They both re­main on top of their games as bank­able TV and movie stars and trusted prod­uct en­dorsers.

“Kasi ’ki­nasal ako, parang nag­ing okey na­man ’yong ca­reer ko,” Marian muses. “Hindi ko ine-ex­pect na ang daming bless­ings. Sabi ko no’n, sig­uro pag nag-asawa ako, me­dyo la-lie-low na ’ko. True enough, nabun­tis ako af­ter the wed­ding. Nag-ano ako, e, nag-lie-low ako ng two-and-a-half years. Nawala ako sa soap opera. Sabi ko nga, kung ano ang nangya­yari sa buhay ko, so­brang bonus na bonus na.”

But clearly, the DongYan cou­ple’s pri­or­i­ties have changed since Zia came into their life. And now that they are

think­ing of hav­ing more mini-me’s (Marian, who is an only child, wants four more), they are both mak­ing sure that they lay the best foun­da­tion for the fu­ture big fam­ily they dream of.

“Bukod do’n sa pagkaka­roon ng mga anak, kailan­gan humingi rin kami ng strength para sa amin,” says Ding­dong, who con­sid­ers “er­pathood” the best job in the world. “Dahil we want to be the best par­ents that we can be for them. So, it doesn’t come easy also. Kailan­gan din nam­ing humingi ng lakas at kailan­gan din nam­ing matuto. Kailan­gan nam­ing humingi ng ad­vice sa mga mag­u­lang namin, di ba, sa mga kaibi­gan. And along the way, marami kam­ing learn­ings from bring­ing Zia up.”

Ding­dong adds, “Basta as a par­ent, ako, free-flow­ing lang, e. I’m learn­ing along the way. Basta my job is to pro­tect my fam­ily all the time.”

Marian says she didn’t know she was ca­pa­ble of lov­ing some­one so much un­til Zia was born.

“Grabe pala ’yong ano, ka­pag pala para sa anak mo, la­hat kakayanin mo. Ta­la­gang... ayoko kas­ing gamitin ’yong word na sac­ri­fice para sa anak... pero parang wala pala ta­la­gang im­pos­si­ble. La­hat ta­laga, pos­si­ble at kaya mong gawin.

“Can you imag­ine ang rou­tine ko? Mag­ta­tra­baho ako. Pag wala akong tra­baho, aala­gaan ko siya. Nagbe-breast­feed pa siya sa akin. Bago ako pumunta sa tra­baho, naglu­luto pa ’ko ng food niya. Gu­migis­ing pa ’ko nang maaga para pag-alis ko, me pagkain siyang kakainin.

“Lit­eral ta­laga na nagig­ing su­per mom ka. Alam ni Dong ’yan, tanun­gin mo sa kanya ’yon. Min­san nga, awang-awa na siya sa akin, e. Siya ’yong nagsasabing, ‘Rest ka na­man.’

“Okey na­man ako. Saka, af­ter na­man ng soap [opera], ma­gr­erest ta­laga ako. Mahi­rap, pero min­san gumi-give-up ta­laga ako na... ’yong pagod na pagod ta­laga, pero san­dali, kasi ako pa maglu­luto, ako pa’ng gan­ito. Ako pa mamim­ili ng mga para sa ba­hay. Ako la­hat— lit­eral. Kaya na­man. Sabi ko nga, hindi na­man ako for­ever na may soap, di ba? Parang so­brang bonus na. At saka para sa kanya na­man ’tong pinag­ta­tra­babuhan namin.”

Ding­dong, for his part, is hats off to his wife when it comes to her deal­ing with moth­er­hood. As he told Esquire Mag­a­zine last June, most of the par­ent­ing du­ties are re­ally taken care of by Marian.

“So­brang hanga ako sa kanyang com­mit­ment to moth­er­hood,” Ding­dong said in his Esquire in­ter­view. “The best that I can con­trib­ute as a fa­ther and as a hus­band is to re­ally sup­port her in her role as a mother. Un­til now, she’s still breast­feed­ing Le­tizia. ’Yong com­mit­ment na ’yon re­ally is... not just coura­geous... Parang spir­i­tual ded­i­ca­tion na rin ’yan be­cause, nakikita ko, it’s not only phys­i­cal—[it’s] emo­tional. ’Yong buong pagkatao ni Marian, in­aalay niya para sa anak namin. So what can I con­trib­ute as a fa­ther, siyem­pre: the stuff na puwede kong gawin na­man with­out [Marian], like giv­ing [Zia] a bath, play­ing with her.”

On top of the wood table are some of Ding­dong and Marian’s cof­fee-table books, in­clud­ing JFK: Su­per­man Comes to the Su­per­mar­ket, Nor­man Mailer’s pho­to­book on John F. Kennedy’s 1960 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign; Jac­que­line Kennedy: The White House Years: Se­lec­tions from the John F. Kennedy Library and Mu­seum, by Hamish Bowles, Arthur M. Sch­lesinger, and Rachael Lam­bert Mel­lon; Jesse M. Ro­bredo Me­mo­rial Book, given to Ding­dong by Vice-Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo; and Baby Zia’s photo book.

Dur­ing the YES! photo shoot, Marian makes sure we do not for­get to write about her flo­ral ar­range­ment adorn­ing some parts of the liv­ing area. “Pi­naghi­ra­pan ko ’yan kagabi,” she says of the classy ar­range­ments of red roses en­cased in glass domes and that one on the white round vase.

We tell her that her Flora Vida by Marian flower busi­ness—which was a gift from Ding­dong for their first an­niver­sary as hus­band and wife—needs no fur­ther pro­mo­tion or pub­lic­ity. “Palagi ka na­mang sold out,” we tell her.

Ear­lier, the flower lover told us that she wants to make time for her flower busi­ness this Christ­mas sea­son.

“Magkakaro’n ako ng time. Nanini­wala ako magkaka­roon ako ng time. Kasi na­man, ako la­hat. Meron lang akong sekre­tarya para ku­muha ng or­ders, pero ako la­hat ’yan. Ako nagpa-pack­ag­ing, ako nag­susu­lat... Kaya nga ano, e, pag naso-sold, hindi ako nakak­a­gawa agad. Pero gagawan ko ng paraan ’yan, kasi nga ang dami ko nang or­ders.”

For those who would like to or­der, visit flo­ravid­aby­mar­ian.com.

Marian re­veals that Zia is al­ready beginning to grasp the fes­tiv­i­ties that come with the Christ­mas sea­son. “Mas ki­lala na niya si Santa, e,” Marian laughs, re­fer­ring to the iconic west­ern Christ­mas char­ac­ter Santa Claus. “Pero pare­has sila ng tatay niya, fa­vorite ang Hal­loween, mahilig silang mag-cos­tume.”

But Zia also knows the Christ­mas char­ac­ters de­picted in the Bi­ble. Zia’s ma­ter­nal great grand­mother Fran­cisca, whom Zia fondly calls Lola Kakang, saw to that.

In fact, Zia’s fa­vorite thing to do these days is to show off, to house guests, the be­len setup placed near the main door.

The YES! photo shoot takes place in the liv­ing room of the Dantes res­i­dence in Makati.

At the time of our shoot, which is mid-Novem­ber, the spa­cious sala is al­ready be­decked with Christ­mas decor, per­son­ally cho­sen by Marian with the help of florist and event stylist Teddy Manuel.

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