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  • “Back in the day…”

    That’s the cue Judy Ann Santos gives to her children Yohan, 14; Lucho, 8; and Luna, 3, that she’s going to tell them stories from her past. 

    “Gusto nila ’yung mga stories na gano’n,” Judy Ann said. “Nakikita nila kung ano ang childhood ko. Na-appreciate nila, more so si Lucho. Kasi hindi siya makapaniwala. ‘Ma, you do that?’ Happy naman sila, at happy ako na they learn a lot from me.”

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    One such story was when Judy Ann told them she was doing the laundry at age 10. At that time, Judy Ann, now 41, had been in showbiz for two years and was playing the lead role in the daytime soap opera, Ula: Ang Batang Gubat.

    Judy Ann recalled to SmartParenting.com.ph she learned how to hand wash clothes from the two people looking after her and her siblings in those days: their Ate Binay and Ate Me-ann. The Santos children’s mother, Carol, was then working as a caregiver in Canada. 

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    Judy Ann encourages her kids to do chores 

    “Kasi wala naman kaming washing machine no’n, e,” she told us at an event hosted by the detergent powder brand that she endorses, Champion. “Kami-kami lang. Nagpapalo-palo pa ako. Meron pa akong ’yung kung saan mo ikukuskos [washboard], nagkukula ako. ’Yung mga maong, tinatadyak-tadyakan ko ’yan. That’s my favorite part—’yung ginaganyan [stomping her feet]. Feeling ko, grapes ang tinatapakan ko.”

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    Judy Ann explained why she preferred hand washing for certain clothes: “I’m more confident na mas malinis ’yung mga damit. Mas wala siyang mga stain…Old school kasi ako. Lumaki ako ng walang washing machine. Kapag brownout, matatawid ko ’yung labada kahit wala akong kasama sa bahay.”

    She added she’s taught Yohan the basic steps of laundry, and the teenage girl tried the chore while the family, headed by Judy Ann’s husband, TV host and actor Ryan Agoncillo, spent some time in the U.S. 
    “Siya na ’yung naglalaba, enjoy siya,” she said of their eldest child and then added with a chuckle: “Lumiit naman lahat ng damit namin. Good job, anak! Kasya kay Luna ang mga damit ko.”

    The mom of three said she and Ryan encourage all their children to do household chores. “Ang unang tinuturo namin sa mga anak namin is after they eat, they bring their plates in the sink,” she pointed out.

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    “Dapat hindi nililigpit ng mga kasama namin sa bahay because it’s something na…I want them to appreciate our helpers at home. And I always tell them that they [the household staff] are a part of the family, and they have to help them.”

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    Raising kids with large age gaps

    With a five-year age gap among her three children, Judy Ann has learned to adjust her parenting style. “Pag 14 [years old] ang kausap ko, 14 ako,” she said, referring to Yohan, and went on talking about the younger ones, Lucho and Luna. “Pag 8, umi-eight din ako. Pag 3, maintain ako sa 41 [my age].”

    On Yohan, Judy Ann added, “Looking at her, I cannot compare myself to her kasi at that age, I was already working. I started working at 8. Whenever she’d ask me, ‘Mom, at what age did you start going out with your friends without a yaya?’ ‘Ah, anak, di ako palalabas no’ng bata ako. Hindi applicable sa akin ’yan.’

    “Si Mommy Carol would always tell me, ‘Pag naging nanay ka, mahihirapan kang magsabi ng oo.’ It’s hard to say yes in difficult decisions. Like, ’yun, going out with friends. You wanna say yes, but you do not trust pa people around her, so you have to say no. Then, at the end of the day, magkakatampuhan kayo. 

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    “It’s something that I’m trying to get used to. Kasi naman malaki na si Yohan. Sinusubukan ka na rin tanggapin na at some point, mag-e-eighteen na ’to. Sabi ko nga, ‘Daan muna tayo ng 16, ha? Pili ka lang: 16 or 18. Pag nag-party ng 16, wala ng 18. OA na dalawa ’yung party.’

    “I’m just so lucky that I have my eldest daughter to set an example to the younger ones, and she listens naman. May resistance ng very, very slight. 

    “Isa rin ’yung sinabi ng nanay ko sa akin. ‘Magkakaroon ka ng anak na parang ikaw. Ang daming dahilan.’ Tama na naman siya. Grand slam na ’ko. Nakuha ko na ang lahat ng awards sa nanay ko. Pa-grand slam na rin si Yohan.”

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    Lucho, the middle child and the only boy, has taken much from his Ate Yohan in imbibing the values their parents have taught them, such as being grateful, compassionate, and responsible. 

    Judy Ann talked about how Lucho and Yohan willingly share whatever they can give, not just to the child beggars but to the needy in general. They appreciate everything that’s given to them, regardless of the price, and will even go for the less expensive stuff. They also understand that their parents work hard, and they make it a point to show how much they care. 

    “We are so blessed that our children are hindi marason or lawyers-in-the-making,” she said, using the legal profession in jest. “Maaari pang si Luna ang lawyer do’n. Kasi marami siya talagang eksplenasyon, e…Our jobs as parents, hindi mahirap. Parang gusto mo pang mag-anak nang mag-anak. Pero parang lang. Parang lang naman.”

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    Judy Ann described the 3-year-old girl as the smart one who never runs out of explanation and reason for everything. “Siya si Delia Razon,” she said of Luna, referring in jest to the last name of the veteran actress. “Lahat ng bagay na gagawan niya ng rason, rarasonan niya talaga. Abogado talaga. So do’n nate-test ang English ko, e.”

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    Disciplining the Agoncillo kids

    Judy Ann, who currently appears as a guest star in the hit primetime series, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, has observed that “ang hirap magdisiplina ng bata ngayon” because of the prevalent use of social media and the proliferation of people she describes as “epal,” or those who act as if they know better than the parents themselves.

    But for her and her husband Ryan, whom she calls by his nickname, Rye, it boils down to this rule: No means no. 

    “Automatic na pag sinabi ng isa, hindi, hindi pwedeng mag-yes ’yung isa,” she explained. “Kung ano ang punishment na ginawa ng isa sa amin, ’yun ang punishment na nirerespeto namin. It’s something na hindi na namin kailangan pag-usapan. It was a chemistry as a parent na basta na lang nagkaintindihan. 

    “Siguro masuwerte din kaming nabiyayaan kami ng mga anak na hindi mahirap pagsabihan, hindi matitigas ang ulo. But we have our bumps and turns along the way na hindi naman maiiwasan. But I guess that’s the challenge of being a parent and raising three beautiful children.”

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    The actress, who also hosts the YouTube cooking show, Judy Ann’s Kitchen, noted that Lucho learns about discipline from observing his Ate Yohan. “So nakikita niya na, ‘Ah, di ko na dapat ’to gawin para di na ako mapunta sa sitwasyon na ’yan.’”

    As reported here last April 2019, Judy Ann and Ryan don’t allow Yohan to have a social media account even if a lot of boys and girls her age already have one. The rule applies to Lucho as well.

    “We’re preparing them and protecting them from bashers and people that might harm them,” she explained. “Eventually, at least pag 18 na sila, they’ll be able to face this kind of things already. Pag bata kasi, di ba, very sensitive, madali silang maniwala sa mga bagay-bagay.”The use of gadgets is allowed, but there are rules. Lucho, for instance, can only play video games on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

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