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Martin Nievera Says He Is a Better Man Because of Santino, His Special-Needs Son
PHOTO BY @martinnievera/Instagram
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Balladeer Martin Nievera shared in an interview with Inquirer how having Santino, his 12-year-old son who has special needs, has made him a better person. 

    Santino is the 57-year-old singer’s child with former partner Katrina Ojeda. He has two older sons with ex-wife Pops Fernandez: Robin and Ram

    “He has really changed me a lot. I’m definitely more patient nowadays than I was with my elder sons,” Martin says of Santino.

    If there’s anything else that having a child with special needs has taught Martin, it’s to be more empathetic toward those who are in the same situation as he.

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    Martin finds that being a performer is a gift he can use in fulfilling his role as a father, because he can be as funny and silly when Santino wants him to be. “And I love every minute of it.”

    He adds, he now has a different notion of what parenthood is about. Because Santino stays with his mom in the U.S., Martin says, “I find myself going to the States a lot more often. Because of Santino’s condition, I feel like he needs to have that family atmosphere. The first thing he says when we are together is, ‘Look, we’re a family!’ His quips sting sometimes! So I try to be really hands-on.”


    Occasionally, Santino also gets to spend time with his kins in the Philippines whenever Martin brings him over. Two New Year’s Eves ago, Martin, Santino, Pops, Robin, and Ram, and their extended families watched fireworks together as they welcomed 2018.

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    Martin describes Santino as adept with technology. “He’s quick and knowledgeable with gadgets. He knows his way on the internet… If I let him use my phone, for instance, he would return it to me with its settings all changed.”

    Still, Martin feels he needs to catch up on a lot about his son. Because they don’t get to spend as much time as he wants to, Martin makes it a point to make every moment count when they’re together. “I try to bring him wherever I go. I want to continue on getting to know him better.”

    Martin is thankful that despite the distance and the limited time he is able to spend with Santino, they’re able to sustain their special father-and-son bond. “I don’t know what it is. I can’t say I’m the good guy, because I do scold and discipline him more than his mother does, so I don’t know how this bond came to be — this despite us being far apart most of the time. But I’m grateful for it.”

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