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  • Pandemic Meant Loss Of Income: How This Radio DJ Couple In Davao City Is Surviving

    Abby and Brandy Fuentes lost many job opportunities but gained more time with their kids.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
  • "Hawid" means hold on. The family was asked "to send a photo to be a part of the music video for the song, "Hawid," by Davao artists.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Abigail Pague-Fuentes

    Welcome to Real Parenting, a space where parents can share the joys, pain, and the mess of parenthood. Want to get something off your chest? Share your #parentinginapandemic journey? Email us at smartparentingsubmissions@gmail with the subject "Real Parenting." Click here to read more 'Real Parenting' stories.

    December used to be the busiest time of the year for Abigail Pague-Fuentes and her husband Brandy Allen F. Fuentes — but not in 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple, who both work as radio jocks and event hosts in their native city, Davao, lost many job opportunities

    “The pandemic greatly affected our finances,” Abigail, nicknamed Abby, told SmartParenting.com.ph in an email interview.

    “Brandy, on average, would have three events a week in lean months. We lost revenue because of the restrictions, which we understand, are imperative. We prayed hard for wisdom, guidance, and blessings to be able to sustain the family and pay the bills and loans.”

    “We took it one day at a time,” she states. “Prayed as a family each night expressing our intentions for sustenance and safety. The answers were almost always immediate. Ask, and you truly shall receive. And that's how we're getting by, so far.”

    Besides her primary job as DJ Gabee of Magic 89.1, Abby now works as an online English tutor to Japanese students. She and Brandy (a.k.a. Big Brother Brandy of 89.9 DXGN Spirit FM) are voice talents, too. They perform in local and national commercials, as well as in international YouTube content channels.

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    Adjusting to quarantine as a family

    To learn more about COVID-19, they watched newscasts as a family during the pandemic's early stage in March 2020. With restrictions relaxed, and each one has gone back to some routines, they rely on their chat group to share and discuss the latest news.

    Abby explains, “When we go out for work, get essentials or run errands, they can see that we'd always go to such lengths to make sure we don't bring the virus into our home. We'd quickly change our clothes, hang them out in the sun, and keep a safe distance from them.

    "We also carefully sanitize our footwear. When we're bringing in groceries, they already know that they have to wipe them to sanitize before stowing away. So it’s clear to them that it’s not safe out there.”

    You cannot put a price on family time 

    On the days that her children “would be bummed out,” Abby would “indulge them with what they’re interested in.” She got them puzzles, building blocks, and different art materials. She even borrowed her brother’s electric organ, so they could learn how to play the musical instrument.

    Mom and kids also did household chores together and watched movies or just idled around afterward. The girls learned how to cook and bake to let other family members try out new recipes at least every weekend.

    Abby adds, "We introduced them to our childhood games and played outside on a fine day. And on rainy days, we'd sometimes troop out and enjoy bathing in the rain. We also allowed them to repaint and spruce up their room.

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    "We thought we'd run out of ideas, but the possibilities are truly endless. This time we have spent together is priceless!”

    If there’s one good thing that came out from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more time to be with family.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Abigail Pague-Fuentes

    Knowing when to let go 

    Abby points out that she and her husband of nearly two decades (they’re celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on January 6, 2021) would like to hold on and keep their children, who are “growing up real fast,” close to them “while we still can.”  

    She looks back in reflection: “Pre-pandemic, it was challenging to be together for a long period to bond, share stories and hope that they'd pick up the values we're trying so hard to instill. Time and circumstances were tough to beat. Either we're the ones who are busy, out and about trying to earn for the family, or them with their projects and ‘other’ distractions.

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    “I admit, we have moments where we tend to be selfish and want them sheltered. There'd be several times last year [2019] where I'd confiscate their mobile phones to thwart late-night chatting that fosters prohibited relationships. It's a rule to prioritize family and studies. 'Uyab2x' or having a boyfriend is out of the question for now

    “The pandemic grounded the kids 24/7. They're prohibited from going out, so we had all the time to do things together during the lockdown. The phones of some of the kids are also still grounded, but they can use the computers anytime, during waking hours with a reasonable time limit, with the screens visible to us and not against.”

    Abby has also realized another longtime wish: to regularly say the rosary together as a family. They do that now every day or night, except on Saturdays when they prepare for the Sunday mass.

    Raising kids to be ready for the future

    As for the children's homeschooling, Abby describes it as “so far, so good” about three months into the new normal of learning.

    Abby is thankful for having “smart kids”: (from left) Triniti, 13; Shandy, 15; Gabrielle, 18; and only boy Jude, 10. “It wasn’t hard to lay the facts” about COVID-19 and its implications. 
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Abigail Pague-Fuentes
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    She says with pride, “They've always been high achievers so they already have it in them to do their best and be on top of their game. We're also really grateful that they've become diligent by themselves and understanding that I couldn't be as hands on to them like before.” 

    “Working for more than eight hours at a time is all too new for me, and I'm still adjusting to it,” she explains. “The girls have been amazing, they took the initiative to do kitchen duty like cooking, cleaning up and other chores and even help out the youngest with his subjects. We are truly blessed.

    “We always tell them that grades, looks, talents and achievements are just second to being kind-hearted. We hope we have instilled the values of humility, honesty, love of God. That in everything they do, they should give their best and give God the glory.”

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