IMAGE @ginalajar and @samanthalopeznyc / Instagram
If you’re already a grandma, but you don’t want to be called lola, you can get creative and take a cue from Gina Alajar and Samatha "Gracia" Lopez. Gina is called Madz by her grandkids Madz, while Samantha is Mamita to her only apo.
Gina, who’s been an actress since she was 8 years old and who, at 58, now also directs TV drama series, has three sons: Ryan, Geoff, and AJ Eigenmann, the real family name of their actor-father Michael de Mesa. Ryan, an actor, and his wife Cathy have a daughter, Catalina, 7, and a son, Ruis, 5. AJ, a former actor and currently a licensed veterinary technician based in Las Vegas, U.S.A., has a son with his wife, Rosetti named Azi, 2.
Gina says there’s a big difference between being a mom and grandmom. “Kasi mas mahal mo ’yong grandchildren mo,” she says we think in jest . “Basta iba sila. Iba ’yong lambing nila sa grandma. Iba ’yong responsibility mo. I feel I have the responsibility dahil, you know, kailangan maturuan rin sila ng magandang asal, especially when they’re with me. Hindi naman puro na lang ’yong ‘Okay lang.’ Spoiled, gano’n. So, kailangan disiplinahin.”
Disciplining her grandchildren includes on-the-spot reminders, such as, “if they’re getting rowdy in a party ’ta’s takbuhan na lang silang nang takbuhan,” and then she just tells them to stop. “Pero I spoil,” she admits, grinning.
Gina regularly sees Catalina and Ruis when they all go to church every Sunday. She bonds with Azi when she gets the chance to visit Las Vegas. Gina dotes on them and enjoys being their refuge when they get a scolding from their parents.
“Nagsusumbong sila sa akin,” she explains. “’Tapos it becomes our secret. Pag nagsabi sila ng, ‘Madz, Madz, don’t tell Mom and Dad,’ I tell them, ‘Okay, it becomes our secret.’ Siyempre, ’tsaka na lang sila makakampante.”
Among her three grandkids, it’s her first, Catalina, whom she considers her favorite. “Pero siyempre,” she hastens to add, “’yong kapatid niya na lalaki [si Ruis] is growing up to be a very sweet boy. ’Yong anak naman ni AJ [si Azi], isa ring little sweet boy. I just love them all!”
For first-time lolas, Gina shares some words of wisdom: “Just love your grandkids, but remember they’re not yours. Have that space. You may get very, very close to them, but you should always remember that hindi pa rin sila sa ’yo. Meron pa rin silang nanay at tatay, who have the last say if they want to make pahiram to you the baby or not.”
Samantha Lopez is gradually learning the role of lola. She had shot to fame in the 1990s as Gracia, the showdown girl in the noontime show Eat Bulaga!, but she has now established a career in the real estate industry in New York, U.S. She has a daughter, Kaye, 24 who gave birth to Lucas just last March. They reside in the Philippines.
“Mas masarap talaga maging lola,” Samantha exclaims. “Di ikaw ’yong nagpupuyat, di ikaw ’yong nagbe-breastfeed, you know? Di ikaw ’yong twenty-four hours na nando’n. Ito [as a lola], puwede mong makita whenever you want, ’tapos nai-spoil mo.”
She believes it’s quite normal for a lola to spoil her apo. But, she adds: “Practical naman rin ako. It’s not about mga material things, you know. But ’yong spending quality time, ’yong mga gano’ng bagay.”
Being a grandma for merely five months, Samantha can’t believe that she’s reached a new phase in her life, but she’s happily navigating her way and enjoying every minute of it. “I’m just excited!” she says. “And, yeah, at 48, medyo young to be a lola. No preparation at all. I mean, you know, excited lang na maging lola. I’m happy.”
As early as now, though, the first-time grandma knows her place in her grandson’s life. “You have to set your boundaries kasi,” she explains. “Lola ka talaga, and meron silang parents.”