"Behind a successful man is a woman," the old adage goes. For Pia Magalona, the pattern continues, this time with her children now that their father—the late Master Rapper Francis "Kiko" Magalona—is gone.
Pia is mother to eight children, two of whom are Francis's stepchildren. They are Unna, Niccolo, Frank Jr, Clara and celebrities Maxene, Saab, Elmo and Arkin.
She passionately talked about her three celebrity children when PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) talked to her recently at the La Femme Awards, where she was one of the awardees.
ELMO'S TALENTS. She took off by sharing some of the hidden talents of son Elmo, who we usually see singing and dancing on the screen.
"He is very good with computers. I think he can be a computer programmer. As early as four years old, he could set up the computer all by himself.
"He is also very good in drawing but of course all of my children are. Everybody is an artist. All are creative except me," she said with a laugh.
Elmo could play musical instruments like the guitar, the harmonica and also play the piano by ear, she added.
Pia also commended the team-up of her son with Julie San Jose.
"I really like that girl!" Pia exclaimed.
She cited Julie's unpretentious attitude as a pleasing quality, "...so natural so talented but she is still normal. And there are only a few people who are normal in this business."
Pia is even more impressed that her son's onscreen partner juggles her studies with her showbiz career.
She said, "I like it that they take it seriously, with their profession. There is no wasted time and everything is accounted for. She is actually more disciplined. Elmo graduated from high school but not yet in college. But Julie, I don't know what level she is, but she seems to be developing her talent and creative side and her academics."
Asked if she would approve of a romantic relationship between Julie and Elmo, Pia smiled and with a swinging of her head, she firmly said, "Not yet."
She explained, "Well it is not just for them but for all of my children that there is a rule in the house that before you enter the age of maturity or of majority you cannot enter any relationship. I always tell them to concentrate more on life and personal growth before they go into a relationship with other person."
To be very clear about her stand, Pia stressed again, "I do not disapprove of Julie Ann in particular. It is just that is my rule in the family.
"People might think that I'm against Julie Ann, No! I am very much in awe of her. I like it that she is very talented. I am a big fan of talented people. My standards are very high in order to please me, ha," Pia said
MAXENE'S BOYFRIEND. She may not allow Elmo to have a girlfriend for now, but she had already loosened her grip on her daughter Maxene who is now 25 years old.
"Neil Arce is the son of Francis's classmate in high school," Pia described her daughter's current boyfriend.
"My children, they always have boyfriends or girlfriends when they are of age. I think I have raised them well."
Does she approve of Neil?
"As long as he makes my daughter happy, that is important. And happy is not only in relationship but it is a balance of everything. It seems that she is happy with Neil and I am happy with that also," she answered.
SHARED VALUES. "Yes, I am," Pia replied firmly when asked if she's particular about her children's relationships.
"I just want them to have relationships with people who have the same values," she said.
"Relationships, meaning not only romantic but also their friends. So I say over and over again that when they choose their friends, I want that the have the same values. It would be difficult if you go with people who do not have the same values and background.
"When you are friends, you are supposed to be good to each other. You learn from each other," she added.
ARKIN'S MATURITY. Our conversation went on to her 11-year-old son Arkin.
"We call him Father Arkin because he is very mature for his age," Pia beamed.
She believes that Arkin's place in the sibling order could have contributed to his maturity.
"He has always been like that...very mature. My children are like three batches. I've got the 20 plus and then Elmo, who is alone in the teens. And then there is Arkin and Clara, 11 and 8. I think I figured it out. I think Arkin is the eldest in the third batch," she told PEP.
She went on to describe Arkin's grown-up attitudes, "He is panganay to Clara so he is very protective towards her. And even if he is younger than Elmo, Elmo is like torn to his older sibling and younger siblings. So kind of childish still," Pia said laughing.
"So I told him [Elmo], 'You know, Arkin is even more caring of me. He always remembers like you also want this... He is very particular about how I am feeling," she related.
Of her eight children, only three are living with Pia: Elmo, Arkin, and Clara.
"Once they go to college, they get to have their own place," Pia said.
TRUE GRIT. Towards the end of the conversation, PEP asked Pia how she managed to pull herself together after the death of her husband and with eight children under her wing.
Pia, who was jolly and cheerful throughout our talk, paused awhile and smiled.
She answered, "I am a very sane person."
"Very logical... it's gonna take more than that to break me. I know that I have to be responsible for the people who depend on me," she said slowly, giving emphasis to each word.
Pia is a successful homemaker, and she knows it.
Asked how she did it all, she said, "I go with them. I learn from them."
And then exclaimed, "Oh, I just love being a mom!"