Jodi, Ogie, Dennis, Derek on how to make the blended family setup work

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Jodi, Ogie, Dennis, Derek on how to make the blended family setup work
Jodi Sta. Maria and son Thirdy with former husband Pampi Lacson and his partner Iwa Moto and their kids Hiromi and Caleb.
Photo from Iwa Moto’s Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — Celebrities lead lives that often seem far from our own. But many of them face the same challenges and joys as regular families, including navigating blended family and co-parenting setups.

We spoke to some of these stars who’ve shared their insights on making blended families thrive, offering learnings that can resonate with people from all walks of life.

Peace as priority

Jodi Sta. Maria’s journey into a blended family life was driven by her commitment to providing a peaceful environment for her son, Thirdy, from her previous marriage to Pampi Lacson. She felt that her son was being caught in between conflicting parents, prompting Jodi to shift her perspective.

“Para siyang naiipit sa dalawang nag-uumpugang bato. I kept thinking, I failed to give my son a complete family, I don’t want to deprive him of a peaceful life. I, at least, want him to have parents who can be civil to each other, who can get along. Do I want to raise him in a chaotic environment? Or do I want to be selfless and decide to settle my differences with his father? That was where I was coming from,” said the Unbreak My Heart lead star, who has also gotten along with her ex’s new partner Iwa Moto, in an interview.

“We were able to set aside our personal interests and turned our attention to what our son needed (which is) a peaceful environment. While I know this is not the ideal setup, I realized that it’s also not ideal to continue bickering, to try to hide your children from their other parent,” Jodi said.

“We shouldn’t let our children get stuck in this awkward situation because this will surely have a negative effect on them while growing up. We just don’t know what specifically.”

Derek Ramsay and Ellen Adarna, who are celebrating their second wedding anniversary this November, with kids Austin and Elias.
Photo from Ellen’s Instagram

Stability before marriage

Derek Ramsay, who has a son, Austin, from a previous non-showbiz relationship and is married to Ellen Adarna for almost two years now (turning two this November), underscored the importance of personal stability before entering into family life and marriage.

When Ellen became his wife, he also embraced her son, Elias, like his own.

“That’s a very difficult question (on how to make blended families work). Where I’m coming from, it’s straight from my heart. I love him so much, he’s like my own son. He’s my bundle of joy and I know I married the right woman,” Derek told The STAR.

But he believed he would never have arrived at this point if he wasn’t stable enough before settling down.

“No matter what the situation is, you have to marry when you’re stable — mentally, financially, etc. — I married when I was 44. But if you have no direction even when you’re in your 40s, you shouldn’t jump into something big as having a family or marriage.

“You’re taking care of other people, you’re not just taking care of yourself. If you’re not taking care of yourself, what more if you’re taking care of others?”

Derek, who also plays a family man in his comeback movie (K)Ampon, further shared, “I know there are a lot of single moms out there. They reach out to me and say, wow, you’ve given us hope (with your marriage with Ellen). With the situation with Ellen and Elias… it just seems natural for me. I love them so, so much and I cannot picture my life without them.”

“It’s a really, really hard question but, I guess, the best way to put it is if you’re ready to accept a single mom or dad… or if you’re not willing to accept 150 percent, then don’t hurt them by getting into a relationship with them. Tanggap mo dapat yun from Day 1.”

Derek stressed, “The question shouldn’t be brought up. There shouldn’t be fights about it. And I know that I’m always No. 2,” referring to Elias’ father, actor John Lloyd Cruz.

As for co-parenting, he learned that “you just have to prioritize what’s best for the child. If that’s what you prioritize, it should be smooth-sailing.”

Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado with their kids Calix, Jazz and Dylan.
Photo credit: @bypaulgregory via Dennis Trillo’s Instagram

Acceptance and love

For Dennis Trillo, acceptance and open communication are the pillars of family life.

The Love Before Sunrise leading man emphasized the importance of recognizing and embracing each other’s quirks and differences while pointing out the role of love in resolving disputes and nurturing stronger familial bonds.

“Bukod sa magandang communication sa isa’t isa, ang pinaka-importante diyan ay acceptance,” said Dennis about building a family with fellow Kapuso star Jennylyn Mercado.

“Kelangan ma-accept mo, lahat lahat! Siya yung pinili mo makasama habang buhay. So kahit na may ma-discover ka na ‘di mo gusto na ugali, kelangan i-accept mo lahat. Kelangan mag-adjust…”

He believes that in any situation that involves a blended family and its challenges, everything comes down to love.

“Ang pinaka-main ingredient is magmahalan lang talaga kayo. Meron mang hindi pagkaka-intindihan, isipin niyo lang pagmamahalan niyo sa isa’t isa. Dun palang sapat na malutas mga problema niyo,” said Dennis who is happy that his and his wife’s kids are loving and close, especially now his son Calix is staying with them because of his fencing training.

Calix is Dennis’ son with former beauty queen Carlene Aguilar, while Jennylyn is mom to Alex Jazz, her son with actor Patrick Garcia. In 2022, the celebrity couple welcomed the newest addition to their blended family — their first child together — a baby girl named Dylan.

Ogie Alcasid, wife Regine Velasquez and son Nate, with the singer-songwriter’s ex-wife Michelle Van Eimeren and their children Leila and Sarah Alcasid
Photo from Ogie’s Instagram

Overlooked aspect of finance

Ogie Alcasid, on the other hand, highlighted an often-overlooked aspect of blended family dynamics: finance.

In his view, resolving financial matters is crucial for maintaining harmony within blended families. He also stressed the importance of fulfilling commitments to children from previous marriages and maintaining mutual respect among family members.

He believes this is the secret to being on good terms with ex-wife, former beauty queen Michelle Van Eimeren, with whom he has two kids, Leila and Sarah, and them having a good relationship with Ogie’s wife Regine Velasquez and son Nate.

“The biggest aspect of disagreements in a blended family is finance, if anything,” the veteran singer-songwriter said. “It’s always overlooked.”

“So fix that. Fix that and you’ll get along, to be honest,” Ogie emphasized.

The OPM hitmaker continued, “And be responsible. If you have a commitment to, I guess, your children from your previous marriage and wife, you better fulfill that. Otherwise, wala kang kwentang ama. And mutual respect is so important.”

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