• Jackie Lou Blanco's Secret to Aging Gracefully: 'I'm Not a Worrier'

    It does not mean she doesn't work out. But aging gracefully takes a certain mindset.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
  • Jackie Lou Blanco's Secret to Aging Gracefully: 'I'm Not a Worrier'
    IMAGE @jackielou.blanco/Instagram
  • As a mother to three millennial children, Jackie Lou Blanco sees a big difference in today’s generation from the era she grew up in. “Now that everything is available to them through social media, they can speak out, they can give their comments about anything or about anyone,” she says.

    The 53-year-old actress, who plays the main villain in GMA-7’s fantasy-action series Super Ma’am, tells SmartParenting.com.ph in a recent interview the plus and minus points of social media’s prevalence especially among the youth. “These advantages would be, like, mas bukas sila sa lahat. Everything is there. Kumbaga, they’re like a sponge, just taking in everything,” she explains. “Pero I guess the disadvantage is you [as a parent] would have to really be conscious in making it a point that they listen to your advice and what you think of certain things. Siguro, do’n na pumapasok ’yong i-instill mo ’yong values… Ang problema ngayon is so much info is available, di ba? They can get it from social media, they can get it from their friends.  

    “Kaya nga I say the lines need to be open because at the end of the day, ikaw bilang magulang, you would like to instill values in them na dadalhin nila sa pagkatanda nila at puwede nila ipasa sa mga magiging anak nila. So ako, for me, if your kids are open to you and they can tell you anything, advantage ng parent ’yon. Kasi masasabihan mo sila. Kapag hindi, they can just get sucked by the system.”

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    Jackie is glad she maintains open lines of communication with her kids -- son Kenneth, 28; daughter Rikki Mae, 24; and another daughter Arabella, 20 -- who all use their father Ricky Davao’s real surname, Dabao. Kenneth, nicknamed Ken, runs a diet food delivery service with his girlfriend. Rikki Mae works at the Human Resources department of a publishing company. Arabella, nicknamed Ara, is a third-year college student taking up International Studies.

    For instance, she talks to them about their choice of college course. “Ako, it’s always kung ano ’yong gusto nila kasi sila naman ang magte-take no’n,” she explains, and singles out Ara’s case. “She said, ‘Mama, I don’t want to be in a 9-to-5 job.’ Ayaw naman ding maging doctor, mga gano’n, so that’s why she took up International Studies. She can work abroad. Puwede din s’yang mag-Marketing. Depende, di ba? So, we’ll see. 

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    “Kasi at the end of the day, hindi ko rin puwede ipilit ’yong sa akin, eh. It’s always kung ano ang gusto ng puso nila. You guide them, of course. ‘Eto ba talaga ang gusto mo? Can you see yourself being in this job for a long time?’ I tell them, ‘You don’t get into a course because your friends are taking the course. It has to be what you want and you can see yourself in that job.’ And then, of course, you’re just there to guide them.”

    The working mom of three is aware of the so-called millennial job hopping, and she’s actually sympathetic. “Mahirap din kasi to stay in a job na hindi mo gusto,” she says. “Pero ako, if I would give any advice, like si Rikki Mae, she used to be a preschool teacher. She did that for two or three years, and then after that, sabi niya parang nagawa na n’ya daw lahat, hindi na n’ya makita ang sarili n’ya doing that for a long time. But at least, she was there for, like, three years.

    “Ngayon, siguro mahirap ’yong parang after the first six month, you quit. I think, for me, sana kahit six months to about a year. Kasi minsan, may mga trabaho na in the beginning pa lang parang hindi okey, pero after a while, ‘Ay, I like it pala!’ So give it a chance -- unless you know sa sarili mo na ‘Ay, hindi talaga ’to para sa akin!’ But a least give it a try.”

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    Jackie understands how persistence, discipline and hard work can pay off -- and we've seen it. The actress, who has always been known for her beauty, is aging gracefully and it's not all becuse of genetics. Long before she became a mom, Jackie has been a health and fitness buff, and she’s now reaping the benefits of having learned the discipline early on. “I’m glad I was able to start it when I was younger kasi kumbaga it’s a habit na. Parang I don’t feel good pag hindi ako nag-exercise,” she points out.

    However, two years ago, she experienced changes in her body; she had already entered perimenopause, or the stage in a woman’s life when she transitions to menopause. “I had a hard time losing weight then,” she recalls. “In the perimenopause stage, your hormones get kinda crazy, eh.”

    Jackie consulted a nutritionist, who helped her deal with her problem, and she eventually found her way back to her normal weight. “Sabi sa akin ng nutritionist ko na siguro daw ngayon medyo steady na ang hormones ko,” she points out. Luckily, she hasn’t been having hot flashes and other perimenopausal symptoms. She says it’s because she has a healthy lifestyle.

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    Her regular exercise routine includes circuit and bodyweight training, plus running in between. Rather than going on a specific diet, she practices portion control by eating just a little bit of everything. She also keeps herself busy with work and other activities. “I’m not a worrier,” she happily declares. “Siguro nakakatulong din ’yon na hindi ko na masyadong ginagawang problema ’yong problema ng iba.”

    Jackie shares the wisdom she’s gained with women going through the same transition: “You have to recognize na you are in that specific stage and accept it. You have to be aware of the signs and signals para you can do something about it. Get yourself well informed. But, for me, it’s really acceptance so you can manage it. You cannot deny it. Also, listen to your body. Like ako, kunwari I will work out today then parang mafi-feel ko, ‘Uy, parang medyo strange feeling ko sa lower back ko.’ Hindi ako magyayabang na it’s nothing. It’s either I would rest that area and train tomorrow, or I’ll do something else na hindi ito mai-strain. You have to listen to your body. Be kind to it.”’

    She also has a message for those who are afraid of aging: “Don’t be afraid of it but take care of yourself properly. Find some sort of exercise that will help you age gracefully, naturally. I don’t have anything against people who do something to their face pero parang mas maganda ’yong less is more, di ba?”

    For the record, Jackie states that she never had anything done on her face and body. “Natatakot ako,” she reasons, adding that the only times she went under the knife were when she gave birth to her kids. “I just always clean my face, put moisturizer, sunblock… I’ll have a facial pero ’yong mga botox, I’d rather not.

    “I wouldn’t want to be 50 and look like 20. I want to be 50 but maybe look like 40. I mean, if you have a few gray hairs eh di few gray hairs, di ba? That’s natural naman. I think when you’re relaxed about your age, you age gracefully.”

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