• Jodi Sta. Maria's Beauty Secret: Forgive and Do What Makes You Happy

    The single mom shares how she found peace of mind after a turbulent past.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
  • Jodi Sta. Maria's youthful appearance betrays the fact that the 36-year-old actress had weathered a lot of storms in her personal life: a marriage that ended after five years that made her turn to alcohol and drugs and a string of bad relationships that she thought would fix the mess she was in. Two years after she made that admission as a speaker during a church event, Jodi is back on her feet, bearing no trace of the dark past she spoke about.

    A single mom to son Thirdy, Jodi considers her role as a mother the most important above all else. But, she tells Smartparenting.com.ph, like most moms, she finds herself second-guessing her parenting even though Thirdy will soon be a teenager. "When they're growing up, makulit na sila, iba na sila, may mga iba na silang gusto. Sometimes I feel, anak ko lang ba ang ganito?

    "And then when I'm in [my] school, I realize na, ay hindi, my case is not unique. Talagang nasa edad yung son ko na he's trying to find his own identity," the actress shares.

    Thirdy is turning 13 in December "two months from now!" she exclaims, and Jodi stops momentarily during the interview to let sink in the realization that she will soon be a mom to a teenager. What challenges does this new chapter bring?

    "[Thirdy] tends to compare himself with other students. He's a basketball player in school, part sya ng varsity, and sometimes he gets insecure because most of his teammates, mas matangkad. So ngayon meron kaming wall sa house na every now and then, papa-measure sya [ng height].

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    "Dumarating talaga sila sa age na they compare everything, kung may hair na sa ganito, ano'ng size ng paa, sino'ng mas matangkad. Sabi ko, 'Babe, your time will come. When puberty sets in, you're gonna have your growth spurt, and the next thing you know, matangkad ka na.'

    "I just continuously assure him, 'your height doesn't have anything to do with your basketball skills, or who you are as a human being, as a person. You are still you, you are unique, and you are special.' As parents kasi, [we can only] support them, encourage, affirm, validate, and assure them."

    Boys' talk

    Despite her separation from her ex-husband, Jodi says Pampi Lacson is "not only physically present but also emotionally present in [Thirdy's] life. And I'm thankful to the Lord for that. Our relationship as friends has been restored," she tells us. They are such in a good place that Jodi can comfortably defer to Pampi when it comes to matters that she feels he can discuss with their son more authoritatively.

    "'Yung mga father-son talks, pinapaubaya ko yan sa daddy nya." 

    "It's easier for me na, 'o Pampi, ikaw ang bahala dyan. Kayo mag-usap nyan.' Especially nung cinircumcise si Thirdy, [sabi ko,] 'Pampi ikaw ang sumama dyan. Kasi that's your moment bilang mag-ama,'" she adds.

    And what advice does she give her son when it comes to girls now that Thirdy is approaching puberty? "I always tell my son, 'Anak, never ever toy with a girl's emotions. You do not court somebody na you don't have long-term plans with.' Lagi kong sinasabi to treat them like they are special and precious. He just listens. He has crushes na, and he's very open naman, pero for now hindi pa girlfriend. Puro pa sya basketball," the single mom shared.

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    Those who follow Jodi on social media know that co-parenting Thirdy with Pampi also brings into the picture the latter's current partner, former actress Iwa Moto (Aileen in real life), with whom Pampi has a 5-year-old daughter. It is a setup that continues to amaze netizens because not only are the two women amicable with each other, they are, in fact, friends. But Jodi says it wasn't that way in the beginning. 

    "'Yung reaching out came when [Iwa] gave birth to Mimi. I was really praying, 'Lord, how do I do this? Guide me.'"

    "Parang God said, just humble yourself and reach out to her. I was in New York that time, and one way of reaching out was, I got her daughter a pair of shoes. And then I gave it to her," she recounts.

    It is a friendship that has grown over time, Jodi says. "It didn't happen na isang click, chummy na. What we're experiencing now didn't happen overnight. Syempre [sa umpisa] nandun pa yung medyo ilangan, until dumating yung time na parang wala na, everything was just okay."

    Ultimately, it is the kids who benefit most from it. Both women's social media feeds are filled with pictures of their modern family taking on adventures together. "Once everything is restored, once there's forgiveness, wala nang resentment and bitterness. It is possible. And it is only by the grace of God."

    Back to school

    This year, Jodi is celebrating two decades in show business, which has been marked by numerous awards and nominations for her films and TV series. Most notable of these is the long-running soap Be Careful With My Heart, and a nod from the International Emmy Awards for her work in Pangako Sa 'Yo.

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    Her achievements as an actress aside, Jodi is also an outstanding student. In 2017, at 35 years old, she went back to school to pursue her dreams of earning a college degree. She is currently enrolled in Southville International Schools and Colleges' BS Psychology program and has recently received recognition as a Dean's lister

    Jodi bares that while she initially wanted to go to medical school after completing her course, she has to be practical since pursuing Medicine would mean quitting show business, her primary source of income. "Wine-weigh ko, parang hindi yata uubra. I have to be realistic also. And then I realized, there are other options. So after my bachelor's degree, I plan to take up my Master's degree right away and pursue my Ph.D., and then put up my clinic. Actually, after I graduate from college, I can do counseling already," she discloses. 

    Time for self and others

    Juggling motherhood, school, and career — and being successful in all — is a tall order, but Jodi makes it look easy. She credits her mom for filling in the gaps she can't cover, but she also makes time for self-care. "I drink lots of water. I eat a balanced diet, and always in moderation. I get facials at least once a month (the Power Facial of Flawless Face and Body Clinic is her favorite), and I exercise," she shares. But on top of all these, she says the most important thing is to "do the things that will make you happy."

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    "No matter the amount of facials you get, if you're not happy inside, hindi magwo-work."

    "I feel that natural glow really comes from within. So do the things that will fill your soul."
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Flawless Face & Body Clinic

    It's the same principle behind the Pink Movement, a campaign she leads, which is all about women "supporting each other, encouraging each other, uplifting each other."

    "It's something you can do with even small acts of kindness. Just ask a person, 'How are you? Have you eaten?' It doesn't have to be grandiose, it's really a way of life. It's how you treat people, especially those who cannot do anything for you." 

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