"Being a dad is amazing. It's a fun journey for me."
This was how Ali Khatibi described his experience as a first-time dad to Baby Amarah, his daughter with ABS-CBN actress Cristine Reyes.
The 31-year-old model/athlete continued, "I'm learning new things about my daughter, and I'm learning new things as a husband.
"Beautiful, beautiful experience."
But that won't be how he would describe fatherhood the day after his baby was born prematurely on February 8, 2015.
With their baby weighing 3.12 pounds, the baby was in an incubator for four days.
Ali recalled, "Amara was a preterm baby. I'd say the struggle that we had is yung nights na she couldn't breathe.
"Kasi we feed her through cup, cupping pa siya nun back then, e, kasi she had no strength to feed through a bottle pa.
"So yung struggle namin yung mga times na hindi siya nakakahinga, she'd choke at night, she'd vomit so nagcho-choke siya.
"We have to suck out the milk from her nose, stuff like that. Ayun yung pinakamahirap."
For the next two months, Ali and Cristine's world revolved around Baby Amarah, who, according to the actress in her interview with Smart Parenting's website, was very "fragile" and "would not cry."
No matter how hard the situation then, Ali had to be strong.
"When you have a kid, you know you have to be ano e automatically, parang you have to be strong for that person, e.
"Hindi ka puwedeng mag-break down or you doubt yourself.
"So I was being strong.
"Siyempre, I wanted to show Cristine na we'll be okay and kaya namin.
"Kasi if I break down, of course, Cristine will also be [affected] so I had to be strong...
"I wouldn't say na nag-struggle ako but yeah, of course, the fear was there but na-overcome ko naman siya."
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) caught up with Ali at a Converse event last March 23, in Bonifacio Global City.
Amarah is now two years old, a very charming tot.
In such a short period, Ali has learned so much, and changed a lot.
The Filipino-Iranian mixed martial arts athlete told PEP, "Yung biggest learning ko is that yung love mo for someone...
"Paglabas, grabe yung love mo sa tao na yun, and grabe yung care mo sa tao na yun.
"So that's something I've learned, na-discover sa sarili ko.
"Grabe pala, I'm so overprotective. I could be so maarte with my daughter, inaalagaan ko talaga siya."
Who between him and Cristine is the spoiler?
"Sabi ni Cristine ako pero parang feeling ko naman hindi.
"Pero I guess so kasi sobrang daddy's girl siya e, so I could be a spoiler, maybe."
Who plays the bad cop?
"I'd say mas nagiging disciplinarian si Cristine.
"Well, I do my part also but si Cristine ang mas…she sets rules. Kasi parang ang napapansin ko sa kanila, parang same personality sila.
"Nakakatawa nga e kasi silang dalawa yung nagtatalo, sa akin sila nagsusumbong dalawa.
"So it's funny, nakakatawa."
Will he let Amarah enter showbiz?
"You know, our daughter, hindi siya nahihiya sa camera. She's very talkative, she's very active, she likes people, she loves people. As in.
"Ano siya, extrovert siya. She's like me, she likes people, she gets energy people. May chance na baka maging artista siya kasi very interactive siya sa mga tao."
But he will have one condition.
"I'll always push her to finish her school muna. If ever she wants to do showbiz or anything she wants to do in her life, we'll be there to support her naman."
One of Ali's recent Instavid showed Amarah playing with her new drum set. Adorable!
As early as now, Amarah has been dubbed by the netizens as one of the "next generation It Girls" along with Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes' daughter Zia, and Dra. Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho's daughter Scarlet Snow.
"That's something so flattering for us kasi we read write-ups na parang 'It Girls' just like what you said.
"Nakakatuwa, siyempre, nakakatuwa para sa amin ni Cristine na our daughter's part of that, and I'm sure the other celebrities are also happy na their kids are sinasabing 'It Girls' ng generation na 'to."
Amarah will no doubt grow up as beautiful as her mom. Has he thought about that time when his daughter would already introduce a boyfriend?
Ali quipped, "I always remember, my friends would always ask me, if you guys remember the movie of Bad Boys, the scene there na there was a guy trying to date Will Smith's daughter and he was there.
"Ayun yung mganyayari, if anyone [tries to]...just kidding!"
Ali was actually referring to Will's co-star Martin Lawrence who had a 15-year-old daughter in Bad Boys II. The two characters intimidated the suitor without mercy.
On a serious note, he added, "Kung may manligaw sa anak ko, I'd rather na I'd get to know the person.
"I think it's best na hindi sila magtago sa akin kasi maga-guide mo sila, and I think that's the best way to do it."