Janice de Belen and her five children have been occupying this five-bedroom, rent-to-own condominium unit in Greenhills, San Juan, for around four years now. She and the kids decided they wanted to live in a "real" city this time. The house in Paranaque that they used to stay in, the conjugal property of Janice and estranged husband John Estrada, is now for rent.
The Sis co-host, who lives on the ninth floor, is now neighbor to her own parents, Philip and Susan de Belen, who live on the fifth floor of the same building. It was to her mother that Janice had entrusted the task of looking for a new place. "Gusto na nga namin, condo o maliit na house," Janice explains. "Pero walang tumatama sa budget. Nawawalan na kami ng hope noon ni Mommy, e."
When Susan de Belen finally found a condo unit that was within budget, she was initially reluctant to recommend it.
"Sabi niya sa akin, 'Janice, meron akong nakita pero tingnan mo muna.' Kasi ang itsura nito dati, ang gulo. 'Yong alam mong napag-iwanan? Madumi, makalat, tambak-tambak. Sabi ko, saan niya nakita? 'Sa building namin,' sabi niya."
Janice went to give the place a look-see. She liked what she saw. "Sabi ko, ayos! Tamang-tama sa amin ang laki."
Her mom asked: "Sigurado ka?" Janice replied: "Oo, ako'ng bahala."
After a general clean-up, Janice had the walls painted in terra cotta. Then she got old stuff from her old house, mainly built-in cabinets, as well as furniture and appliances, and reinstalled them here. She also bought a few new things—and voila!
"Masaya dito," she says. "Nage-enjoy ako. Malapit sa lahat."
And since the kids' lola is just four floors away, "kalmado ako 'pag wala ako sa bahay," says Janice, smiling. "Nandiyan ang Mommy ko for any emergency."
That's what you call family ties.