Since their fairy-tale wedding on May 28, 2001, and subsequently becoming parents to fraternal twins, Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzalez have been happily married. That, to use social media parlance, makes for #relationshipgoals.
The 48-year-old actor and his beauty queen-turned-TV host/actress wife, who’s five years younger than he is, have maintained a quiet family life. They have especially kept their son Andres and daughter Atasha away from the public eye—except for the two times that the twins, at four and five years old, appeared in a TV commercial (TVC) for Jollibee, the fast-food chain that their father has been endorsing for a long time.
When Charlene set up her Instagram account in 2012 and Aga followed suit a year later, the couple began to open up about their home life, posting personal photos of their milestones and activities. These days, their online followers and those who read articles based on the celebrity couple’s Instagram posts get to know more about the Muhlach family and are particularly interested in how Andres and Atasha, now 16 years old, have grown up to be as good-looking, sportsloving, and artistically inclined as their parents.
Then, last January, Jollibee released its new TVC to promote its Chicken Joy product on TV and online. The Muhlach family—Aga, Charlene, Andres, and Atasha— star in the ad campaign, titled Mula Noon, Hanggang Ngayon. It focuses on how far Aga has come as a brand endorser, starting from The Muhlach family—(L-R) Aga, Charlene, Atasha, and Andres—met the press for their launch as Jollibee celebrity endorsers.
In the Muhlachs’ interview with YES! Magazine, Aga related how his life changed after he was tapped to endorse the proudly Pinoy fast-food chain 25 years ago.
“Because of Jollibee, gumanda ’yong takbo ng buhay ko, because I had to take care of the brand, the name,” he said. “Yes, you got paid big by all these endorsements, but it’s not easy also. Parang it’s not easy to live, like, a super-straight, clean life. But then, because of that, it taught me how to live that kind of life. And it was nice.
“Because of that, I was led to, you know, parang to meet her,” he added, referring to Charlene. “A very nice person with good values—’ yon ang naging asawa ko. And then, nagkaanak kami, and Jollibee was still part of that... I’m proud and I’m grateful. Thank you, Lord, na, you know, nakasama pati ang buong family ko.”
when he was a bachelor 25 years ago to the time he became a husband and a father, and now that his and Charlene’s children are teenagers.
The ad campaign generated a lot of buzz, especially concerning the twins’ entry into showbiz. By the time the Muhlachs met the press for a media launch, Andres and Atasha already had their fair share of questions and photo ops.
Just before the Muhlachs went onstage for the program proper, YES! Magazine had a few minutes with them in their holding room. They went for the interview not so much as a formal Q&A but as a casual talk. Aga, Charlene, and Atasha parked themselves in a comfy red couch, while Andres chose a wooden makeup table for a relaxing space to sit on. They gave generous answers and laughed a lot.
When the questions were addressed to Atasha and Andres, their parents let them speak their minds and listened intently. At one point, while Andres was talking, Aga rose from his seat and walked to where his son was seated. Charlene explained why they wanted to catch every word the teenagers were saying: “It’s nice to hear them.”
All four family members agreed that filming their current Jollibee TVC was a fun activity.
Atasha particularly enjoyed the break in between takes, when they were just lounging around in their tents, swapping jokes and laughing together. For her, the shoot was about “creating new memories and experiences.”
Aga admitted to serving as acting coach to Atasha and Andres both in their old and new commercials. “Even now, they had a hard time acting,” he said. “I had to be behind the camera and just act it out…” Charlene teased him: “Stage father!” Grinning, Aga—whom director Mel Chionglo calls the most natural-born actor he has ever seen—went on to relate how he coached his children: “Sabi ko, ‘Just follow, ha?’ Parang sa bahay pa lang, I always tell them to just relax. But I can only say so much, really. Because I never talked about acting in the house. You know, it was never about artista… I was nervous because parang when I saw the storyboard, what’s the line? Atasha’s, okay, one line. Andres, his line is ‘Na-miss mo, ’no?’ E, hindi pa nagta-Tagalog ’tong mga ’to!”
The award-winning actor then explained how he had helped his newbie son by translating the line into English. He told Andres to say the line “Na-miss
mo, ’no?” as if he was saying “You missed it, right?”
“Gano’n!” he said. “It’s hard for him.” He turned to the teenage boy and asked, “How was it?”
Andres sheepishly replied: “There was, like, how many takes? Like, easily more than twenty takes.” And everyone in the room laughed with him. Aga added: “With that one line!” “With that one line,” Andres agreed. “And I had, like, one segment where I just had, like, rapid burst of saying it, like, two minutes long. I wasn’t used to that.”
Through it all, Aga and Charlene were on the edge of their seats.
“I think, as parents, mas mahirap in a way,” Charlene said. “Kasi you get anxious, di ba? Parang you forget about yourself. Ang iniisip mo, ’yong mga bata.”
So, no, the Jollibee TVC is not a signal for the twins to join showbiz.
“Even if I’m busy again doing movies, I don’t see them being part of that, the industry,” said Aga, who had taken five years off from showbiz before starring in the 2017 family drama Seven Sundays. “After they finish college, then it’s really up to them.”
Aga, who shot to fame at barely 15 via the teen flick Bagets, expressed reluctance in having Atasha and Andres follow in his footsteps.
“As much as possible, parang I wanted them to be normal lang muna,” he pointed out. “Parang I don’t want them to be judged. I don’t want my children out there, you know. I want them to be normal, meaning, if in college, they wanna work, they wanna experience, let’s say, being a waiter, a gas boy… Normal life, I want them to experience that. Parang kunwari, kailangan nila ng weekend money, di ba, it’s not gonna come from us. They’ll have to do mga part-time jobs.”
Apparently sharing her husband’s sentiments, Charlene added: “And now that they’re sixteen, I think we learned how to let go of it as parents, you know, so they can have their own individuality and, at a young age, also have their own experiences.”
media launch with the muhlach family the green lounge ortigas avenue, san juan february 18, 2018
Aga and Charlene, who met and fell in love on the set of his old sitcom Oki Doki Doc more than 16 years ago, are considered an enviable couple in showbiz. They’ve proved to be good partners in building a family and raising their two children as independent-minded individuals.
“He started kasi life very young, parang thirteen,” she said of her husband, who learned to fend for himself early on. “So he doesn’t try to shelter the kids. He wants them to grow and experience life because he experienced life at such a young age.”
In the same breath, Charlene teased Aga that he’s still not ready to let go of their children if and when Andres and Atasha decide to study abroad. “Pag nandiyan na, time na, nando’n na siya, nakabuntot,” she said, laughing.
Aga couldn’t agree more. “There was one time, wala sila sa bahay,” he recalled, shaking his head. “I’m like, oh my God! Parang sabi ko, ‘I’m not used to this.’”