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Rica Peralejo Spices Up Popular Parenting Notions As Smart Parenting Editor-At-Large
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI
  • Every day a new page, every week a new vlog filled with refreshingly candid and sensible insights. This is how we’ve come to know Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio since she shied away from the limelight of show business more than 10 years ago.

    A wife to Every Nation Church pastor and youth leader Joseph Bonifacio, and mother to their sons Philip and Manu, the 40-year-old actress-turned-writer/digital content creator has been a constant source of inspiration for women on marriage and motherhood, among many others.

    This Year 2022—drum roll—Rica officially joins the Smart Parenting team as our first-ever celebrity editor-at-large! It's an addition to her already glowing résumé and another chapter that’s sure to fill the pages of her life with more for her readers and followers to look forward to.

    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI

    Sharing even the hardest truths about parenting

    “I’ve really been missing editorial,” Rica tells us in an exclusive interview. Not known to many, our new member graduated with a degree in English Literature from Ateneo de Manila University, and is also a published author.

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    “I really am a writer," she beams. "I like words. [Writing] was one of those things that took a backseat because I choose to be more present [in my kids’ lives], so I’m very excited for this.”

    As an advocate of gentle parenting, Rica relates to the ups and downs of today’s moms and dads. “Iba na rin talaga ’yung generation [ngayon] kaya kahit na nasasabi mo, ‘Bakit kaya ganu’n ’yung parents ko noon?’ you also have to understand them," she points out, and offers an explanation in line with information and technology, "None of them had access like we do today."

    With her new role here at Smart Parenting, Rica is committed to sharing even the hardest truths about parenting.

    She herself has gone through what other millennial moms experience: giving birth to a rainbow baby at home, breastfeeding despite having low milk supply, dealing with a child's lip- and tongue-tie,  struggling with COVID-19, working to raise independent kids, finding time to exercise, planning to move to the province, and homeschooling for the first time, among other things.

    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI
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    Rica goes on explaining, “I want to be someone who pushes na we can be more understanding of the children, but also the parents. We were all once kids, ’di ba? That’s overlooked when you’re a parent."

    She points out that people tend to "forget that we were once kids and, as kids, we had pains," adding, "that’s the reality." She expounds, "Even as careful as we want to be as parents, alam natin na, someday, our kids are going to have hurts about the way we raised them and we just need to be open and humble to say na, ‘We’re sorry, we could’ve done better and we didn’t know any better.” 

    That’s why as Smart Parenting’s editor-at-large, Rica promises to be a “co-sufferer” with other parents.

    “I’m a highly opinionated person,” Rica says. “I take stands in my life. I don’t like to be safe. Sure, it’s a more peaceful life, to make safer choices all the time, but I don’t think that’s how God designed me.”

    In her new role, Rica is hosting a vlog called Poprica: Popular Parenting Spiced By Rica Paralejo. It will premiere on February 14, 2022, Valentine's Day, on Smart Parenting's YouTube Channel. For the pilot episode, Rica talks about the boundaries of love and forgiveness. You can expect new videos Mondays at 6 p.m.

    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI
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    'I don’t want to look thin. I want to look strong.'

    If you’re among Rica’s million-strong following on social media, you’re already familiar with her recent journey to strengthening her mind and body. Between giving birth, in 2019, to second child Manu via unmedicated VBAC homebirth, spending the first six months of the pandemic in the U.S., and recovering from COVID-19, she felt she needed a change in lifestyle.

    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI

    With a promise made with her husband Joseph to become more active, Rica took on a 30-day yoga challenge to kick start her fitness journey. “If you’re going to do something, you have to go beyond 28 days kasi ’di ba dapat malagpasan mo daw ’yun to form a habit," she points out.

    "I did this unwittingly because when I did Yoga with Adriene," she says, referring to American yoga instructor Adriene Mishler, "31 days ’yung program na pinasukan ko. Ginawa ko talaga siya kasi sabi ko, ‘Lord, ayoko naman pong mamatay na hindi gumagalaw-galaw ’yung buto ko saka hind nagfo-flow ’yung blood ko!’

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    "Hindi ko talaga naisip na may magbabago sa akin pero sabi ko ‘It feels good.’ Tama naman pala si Adriene na ‘Find what feels good.’ Hindi ko akalain na lalakas pala ako sa kagaganu’n ko.”

    This is how our new editor-at-large wishes to encourage other moms to go about their own path to wellness: slow and steady.

    “’Pag hindi mo nakikitang nawawala ’yung taba, akala mo hindi ka lumalakas. Mali ’yun.”

    Rica emphasizes that more than exercising to fit a certain size, focusing on strength is key to gaining momentum. “Nagkaroon ako ng goal na I don’t want to look thin. I want to look strong. I want to build muscles because when I lose my muscles, I lose my strength. I now focus more on ‘Does it make me feel better? Does it make me feel stronger?’ The correct focus will help you sustain that good habit.”

    Nowadays, you can see Rica on social media sweating it out with her favorite jump rope. She loves it so much, she can’t recommend it enough to other moms who wish to start getting fit.

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    “Isipin mo, sa halagang Php800 para sa magandang jump rope, ’yun na ’yun," she says, grinning. "Hindi mo na kailangan ng gym membership. Garahe mo na lang! It’s doable kaya gusto ko rin i-encourage ’yung mga moms out there na hindi niyo kailangan bumili ng sobrang mahal na equipment para makapag-exercise. Puwede na kayong gumalaw-galaw na hindi pa kayo nagsa-sacrifice ng so much time away from your kids.”

    “It doesn’t take much,” Rica says about her fitness routine. “Pinakamahirap na part talaga is to say that you want to be consistent about it.”

    Aside from taking care of her body, Rica appreciates how feeling good about herself helps her become a better parent to her children and wife to her husband. With a stronger mind and body, she’s able to take care of herself and her growing brood.

    'Kami ni Joseph, magkaiba. Hindi lang ’yan sa parenting, ha?'

    Even after 12 years of marriage and eight years of motherhood, Rica is still in awe of the transformations she has gone through as an individual and as part of her family.

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    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI

    She says of her husband, “Nu’ng kinasal kami, meron kaming verse na ‘No eyes have seen, no ears have heard, no mind can say what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ Truly, I still can’t see, can’t know, can’t conceive in my own limited human mind what God is going to do for us. So many things have happened na hindi namin ma-imagine na mangyayari sa amin.”

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    True enough, Rica loves regaling how her husband had a change of heart while they were in the U.S. and how they’re still growing in their union both as a couple and as parents.

    She goes on sharing her observation, “May mga couples kasi na parang almost the same background, so parang wala masyadong adjustment. Kami ni Joseph, magkaiba. Hindi lang ’yan sa parenting, ha? I think we’re in the middle, like we agreed on a lot of things, but there are some things na [we disagreed on].”

    She then points out, “You also have to factor in that your parenting changes. It’s not as if the way that I parented Philip when he was just one is still the same way that I’m parenting today. Kasi so much of who I am today is born out of realizations."

    Rica looks back on the time her panganay Philip, 8, didn't yet have his little brother Manu, 2: "Sobrang privileged kasi wala siyang kasabay, so solong-solo niya ’yung parents niya. Pero hindi rin siya privileged in a sense na solong-solo din niya lahat ng kamalian."

    "So ’yung mga pagkakamali namin," she confesses, as if talking to Philip, "‘Pasensya ka na, anak, ha? Sa ’yo namin nagawa lahat." She adds, turning to us, "So pagdating [kay Manu], ‘Hindi yan nag-wo-work, so ’wag na natin gawin.’”

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    Rica likewise candidly talks about her and Joseph as a couple: "Feeling ko lang na we have to incorporate so much of the difference between us as individuals because we have chosen to become parents together.

    Through time, she adds, "you learn a lot of things from the stuff that you read, the experiences that you actually go through, and the different things you try. You see that ‘Oh, this works. This doesn’t.' So by the time that you’re a parent to your second-born, you’re a completely different person.”

    Admittedly, it has taken Rica eight years of parenting with Philip to “get it.” She muses, “’Di ba, they always say that ’pag dumarating na sa bunso, nawala na lahat ng rules sa first [child]?”

    “Kaya one thing I encourage our readers to do is to NOT  expect themselves to get it right away. It didn’t really come overnight for me. No one gets it right away.”

    Rica just relishes the beautiful chaos that is her day-to-day life.
    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN HALILI

    She goes on to say how lucky we are in this day and age to have access to a whole new world of parenting online. “Imagine all the positive parenting na nakukuha natin today,” Rica says. “You can just imagine how our own parents had to raise us na wala naman internet.

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    "We really have to acknowledge that we come from a very different generation. One of the greatest things you can do as a parent is [to accept] that your kids are born in a different time and for a different time. You were born for yours and your time is completely different from theirs. Kahit pa sabihin mo na young mom ka, ibang-iba na ’yung pagpapalaki sa ’yo kaysa sa pagpapalaki sa kanila.”

    “One thing that having children has taught me is to let go of my own preferences so that others’ lives around me will thrive as well,” she says.

    Nowadays, two years into the pandemic, Rica just relishes the beautiful chaos that is her day-to-day life. “Sabi ko nga, kung ako ’yung nanakawan ng isang tao, baka mahirapan siya talaga kasi wala kaming pattern. That’s how spontaneous my days are as a working mom”—and that’s how she opens herself up to Year 2022 and the years to come.

    Producer: Cherrie Julian
    Photographer: Christian Halili

    Hair and Makeup Artist: Don De Jesus
    Fashion Stylist: Steven Coralde
    Fashion: Loungedco.com and Reverbelle.com

    Staff Writers: Jocelyn Valle | Angela Baylon
    Art Director: Steph Ocampo
    Growth Lead: Jasmin Sencil

    Brand Head: Iza Cuyos

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