Spending a whole day together with one's kids is a luxury for a busy father—more so if he's TV director GB Sampedro, a single father who's separated from his ex-wife with whom he has three kids—and he wishes nothing more than to spend more bonding time with his two sons aged 12 and six, and eight-year-old daughter.
So how does the busy director of TV5's Paparazzi and Five Star Specials spend time with them?
"Actually, hindi ako masyado nagplaplano, e, gusto ko lang lumabas with my kids." His normal activities include malling and watching a movie. Like other dads, he knows how hard it is "pag talagang very tight ang schedule, hanggang kain lang." And he too likes to take his kids out of town when his schedule permits. He isn't one to make plans for special days. "Even my birthday, hindi ako nagplano."
He recalls the most memorable Father's Day thing his kids did for him: "Sa akin, simple call or text, masaya na ako doon." Even a simple card will do. "Siguro magugulat ang anak ko paglaki nila, mayroon akong envelope kung saan lahat ng natanggap ko from them na kahit ano, kahit kalat o basura na pinagtupi-tupi lang na papel, I keep it." He keeps a pile of these 'memories' and he's proud to say, "'Andun lahat." On his birthday, his daughter gave him a card "na, simple lang: 'happy birthday, I love you'... sobra na akong na-touch, di ako kailangan bigyan ng mahal na regalo."
Single fathers like himself get a hard deal, he says. "Mahirap talaga, mahirap." People tend to think that just because he's a guy, it's easier, and it becomes "normal lang, nasa babae ang bata." Although he doesn't want to generalize, he humbly admits, "Ako talaga, there was a point na hirap ako. Medyo OA siguro pakinggan, pero the first half ng separation ko, literally, I'm with my iPod, para makatulog ako sa gabi and literally hawak ko yung pictures ng mga anak ko."
He'd be crying every night, but now, "through the years, medyo okay, masasabi ko medyo okay na ako. Mahirap lang kasi, ang hirap mahiwalay sa mga bata." What makes it doubly hard for him is not knowing "kung ano yung nangyayari sa kanila, you don't know kung nasaan sila palagi, yung saktong oras kung nasaan sila." So he's made it a point to call them every day as much as possible. "Tatawagan ko, marinig ko lang boses ng mga anak ko."
He remarks, "Siguro, hindi perfect yung sitwasyon. Ako, di naman ako galing sa broken family, bago sa akin ang sitwasyon na hiwalay." He's learned to adjust and adapt. "Hangga't kaya ko, gusto ko sila makita." He credits his ex with the relative ease now. "Pag gusto ko makita ang anak ko, pinagbibigyan ako." He's able to spend whole mornings or afternoons with his kids when he's free and whenever he wants.
On his relationship with his ex-wife, he says, "Every time pag nag-uusap kami, tungkol sa mga bata and yung nga lang, limited na yung topics namin to the kids. We're okay, much better now, hindi na kami nagpapatayan. Ako, detalye ako, kung gaano ako ka detalye sa work, ganun ako sa mga anak ko, inaalam ko kung ano ang nangyayari sa kanila."
He has resolved to see his kids at least once a week. "Makakasama ko sila, pero minsan akala ko bakante na ang araw na yun, pero may schedule pala ako na iba na, trabaho pala." The kids would sometimes sleep over, and "yung mga importante pangyayari, kasama ko sila at nakakasama ko sila maghapon."
Now that the kids are growing up and changing fast, he likes to take their pictures all the time and freeze as many memories as possible. "Ako kuha ako nang kuha ng picture pagkasama ko sila." He's surprised how fast they grow up, "Iba na yung language, terminology nila. Iba na pala yung mundo nila. In a week's time, ang dami na palang puwede mangyari or magbago sa kanila, iba na ang favorite nilang artista, singer."
SIGNIFICANT OTHER. Right now, Direk Sampedro is in a happy, long-term relationship. The lady who holds his heart willingly captive is comedienne Candy Pangilinan. He's been in a committed relationship with her for over a year now.
How's Candy with his kids? "Hindi pa sila nagkakasama, siyempre si Candy iniisip niya yung ex ko, yung mga anak ko, na iisipin ng mga bata mayroon makakasama na bago. Alam nila kung sino si Candy sa buhay ko, na girlfriend ko si Candy. Ako, I don't deny the situation."
Kids think differently about relationships and marriage, so even if GB and his wife have been separated for over five years, he's careful to protect them from having a skewed notion about the meaning of 'family'. He doesn't want them to think that it's just okay for mom and dad to not be together, for mom and dad to have their own boyfriends or girlfriends without explaining the situation and its context.
He finds the whole situation quite complicated. "Hindi talaga siya ideal, pero hindi rin naman natin ginusto na mangyari, pero nangyari." GB firmly believes that getting to instill the right values in Jabby, Sofia, and Gabby matters above all. He and his ex don't talk about their respective significant others and they've chosen to limit their topics to the kids. They take care, "just to protect the kids, na hindi mali ang maisip nila. Pero kung ako ang masusunod, gusto ko sana na very close lahat, kung ako lang ang masusunod. Pero hindi mo pinaplano yun eh, darating lang yun eh na okay na. Siyempre, si Candy, nangangapa rin siya, iniisip niya kung paano na yung mga anak ko... Complicated, pero ganoon talaga."
When we tackle GB's relationship with Candy's son, his face lights up. "Ayun, close kami nun, kasi wala naman siyang..." [Candy is a single mother with no connection to the father of her child.] They're very close, so close in fact that Candy's six-year old calls him "Dada" and he's the same age as GB's bunso. Candy and GB's children know of each other, but only by name since they haven't met yet.
The next level of their confirmed engagement is a thing to watch for in showbiz. At the time of this interview, GB revealed tidbits about Candy and their future together: "Siyempre, gusto mo yung pang habang-buhay. Yun naman ang concept ng having a relationship, someone na makakasama mo for the rest of your life."
For the guy who doesn't like to plan, he says that "wala naman pressure, pero gusto ko na rin to settle down again. Inaayos lang namin ang church annulment, pero civil annulment namin okay na."
He lets out a telling remark though, "Hindi mo alam, baka this year, di ba, alam mo yun, di mo alam, maraming puwedeng nangyari."
Candy has influenced GB's parenting style for the better by reminding him constantly to "find time for the kids, make time, spend time with your kids." Candy doesn't mind GB's schedule with his kids because she knows the value of time spent together. "Lagi niyang sinabi, 'O, di mo pa nakita anak mo.' Siyempre kami, mas madalas kami magkita kaysa sa mga anak ko." Candy is very caring, and if there is something he will always appreciate about Candy, "She wants me to spend time with my kids. Kasi ako workaholic ako eh."
Of his workaholic ways he reasons out, "Hindi forever may trabaho, hindi forever may darating na opportunities, at para naman sa kanila [kids] 'yan." Good thing Candy is there to keep him grounded on the value of time spent with his kids.
GB and Candy's favorite topic is about what makes them click and work together—talking about each other, basically. "Ano ako eh, kalog din ako, palabiro din kasi ako. Siya, yung pagkatao niya, ganun din. Yung importanteng nagkakausap, yung level ng topic ninyo, yung mga pinag-uusapan ninyo, nagkakaintidihan kayo...Ayun, nagkakasundo kami sa pag-uusapan, pareho kami ng trip."
When asked how it was to court Candy, Ligaw 101, he blurts out laughing, "Naku, baka matutunan ng ibang lalake at baka manligaw sa kanya! Ako kasi ang style ko, di ako marunong manligaw, eh. Di ko alam kung paano. Ako, pinaparamdam ko lang sa tao na importante siya, sa pagbibigay ng time... more than the flowers, the chocolates, magbigay ka ng time and effort. Siguro matiyaga ako."
He remembers that they first met when Candy was a guest in Boy & Kris and he arrived early for the taping. He had come, sleepless, from another long-haul taping. He was resting and already fell asleep in the dressing room that was supposedly for Candy when she arrived. They just started talking, "Very casual, very friendly," and that's how they started to grow closer.
For now, the Astig director, single father, man of many hats is happy and content where he is. He's become more grounded compared to the young man he was before (CLICK HERE to read related story) and he looks to the future with a smile on his boyishly charming, non-artista artista face.