Turning three years old sa darating na August ang anak ni Bernard Palanca sa dati niyang asawa na si Meryll Soriano. Isinilang si Elijah noong August 27, 2007.
Kahit naging magkasintahan sina Bernard at Meryll ng more than a year and a half, nauwi sa hiwalayan ang pagsasama nila after four months of marriage.
Si Bernard ay pumunta ng Australia para magmuni-muni at makipagsapalaran sa buhay. Kuwento ni Bernard, umuwi siya sa Pilipinas noong nalaman niya na manganganak na si Meryll.
"When my mom told me that she's [Meryll] about to give birth any time soon, umuwi na ako. So, when I came home, eksakto. Two days later, my mom woke me up early in the morning and said, 'Congratulations! You're a daddy. It's a new boy!'" kuwento ni Bernard nang makapanayam siya ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sa set ng Panday Kids sa Malabon noong Biyernes, March 19.
"The very morning," patuloy niya, "he [Elijah] came out at four in the morning, I think. They allowed me only to get in at 8 a.m. Normally, it's 10 a.m. because of the visiting hours. Kaso, I'm the dad. Pinayagan naman ako to go in. I held him kaagad. It was my first time to find out what it feels talaga. Di ba, when new dads said na iba yung feeling, I never understood it then."
Lately nga lang daw ay hindi masyadong nakikita ni Bernard ang kanyang anak dahil sa busy schedule niya. Naging involved kasi ang aktor sa Backdoor Ventures Arts and Music Festival na ginawa last February at busy rin siya sa taping ng telefantasya ng GMA-7 na Panday Kids.
"He [Elijah] saw me once when I guested sa Family Feud. He called the yaya, 'It's Papa.' Nakilala niya ako through the TV. Parang for me, it was a nice feeling," nakatutuwang kuwento ni Bernard.
Ayon pa kay Bernard, nahihilig si Elijah sa drawing, painting, at cars. "I try to understand him kasi salita nang salita. Talagang kinukilit ako. Ang hirap niyang intindihin pero masaya."
Hindi na rin iba ang father role kay Bernard. Dito nga sa Panday Kids, he plays the role of James, the father of Charlie (Sabrina Man) and stepfather to Jenny (Ella Cruz). Si Isabel Granada naman ang gumaganap na kanyang asawa.
Kasama raw parati ni Bernard sa mga eksena sina Sabrina at Ella. Lately lang daw niya nakakasama si Julian Trono (who plays Hadji) and hopefully, makasama niya rin si Buboy Villar (who plays Oliver).
"Ang galing ni Sab. I like working with her," sabi ni Bernard tungkol sa kanyang onscreen daughter. "You know, she's very masunurin. And very professional. I mean she's so young pero napaka-professional ng batang iyan. I have nothing but praise for her. Ang galing niya."
ON HIS SHOWBIZ HIATUS. Nagpapasalamat naman si Bernard na hindi siya nawawalan ng trabaho. Kumpara sa ibang Hunks members na sina Piolo Pascual, Jericho Rosales at Diether Ocampo na hindi nawala sa spotlight, nag-lie low si Bernard mula sa showbiz noong 2007.
Ayon sa aktor, kaya siya bumalik noong 2008 ay para na rin sa kanyang pamilya.
"At first it was just to check my family to see what they needed. My stepfather died. Siyempre, he was the breadwinner of my family. I wanted to see what I can do for them or find out how I can help them. So, I came back to watch over them. I took care of them. I was not thinking na babalikan ko yung showbiz," kuwento niya.
Si Bernard ay mayroong anim na kapatid, isa na rito ang ang nakababatang kapatid niya na si Mico Palanca na nag-aartista rin. Mayroon din siyang tatlong half-siblings—two boys and a girl—sa kanyang stepdad.
"My two younger brothers are still young. One is still in high school. The other one is in first year college. My younger sister is finishing college pa lang," banggit ng aktor.
Ayon kay Bernard, nagpunta siya sa Australia upang ayusin ang kanyang mga dokumento at kung possible ay maging citizen ng tinaguriang Land Down Under. Ngunit hindi naialis ni Bernard ang pagkahilig niya sa pag-arte.
"I did a commercial over there for Campbell soup which was shown in the U.S.," kuwento niya. "I was signed by an agency over there in Melbourne. If a project comes up, they just email me. If I can go and the project is good, I will go."
ALMOST MADE IT TO THE PACIFIC. Isang malaking panghihinayang ngayon ni Bernard ang hindi niya pagkakasama sa HBO epic miniseries na The Pacific, kung saan sina Tom Hanks at Steven Spielberg ang mga executive producer. Ang The Pacific ay katulad din ng miniseries na Band of Brothers na ipinalabas sa naturang cable channel. Ipinalalabas na ito sa U.S. at ipalalabas naman sa April 3 dito sa Pilipinas. (CLICK HERE to read more about this new show.)
"I auditioned for that," sabi ni Bernard. "It was shot in Australia. There were thousands of guys who auditioned for it. I was standing there, thinking na I don't belong here. Puro mga Caucasians na parang mga Brad Pitt ang 'itsura.
"Fortunately, I got a first callback. And then they called me up again. I got the part. They chose me to be one of the soldiers in the main platoon. I was supposed to do boot camp already with the other actors."
Sa kasamaang-palad, hindi nakasama si Bernard dahil sa kakulangan ng legal papers para makapagtrabaho sa Australia.
"I needed one in particular, yung firearm permit. In Australia, by law, even if it's fake, even if you're firing blanks, you need that permit. You have to be a resident or a citizen to get that permit. So, I couldn't get one.
"Now, every time I see the trailers on HBO, I always say, 'Wow, I could have been part of that.' And have you seen the trailer? I could have been working with Spielberg and Hanks. They were working on the set. If only I had the right paper work lang," medyo nalungkot na sabi ni Bernard.
Pero sinabi na lang ni Bernard na maaaring hindi raw talaga para sa kanya ang nasabing Hollywood project.
"I'm a freelancer right now. I like it this way. There are more options," sabi ni Bernard tungkol sa kanyang pagkakataon na magtrabaho muli sa showbiz.
Dagdag niya, "Kung saan may trabaho, that's where I will go. For as long as the work is here, I'll stay for as long as I can. I'm not here to compete with anybody. I'm happy where I am."