"Huwag na lang!"
That's a statement of resignation and anger uttered by single moms who are done talking with their ex-husbands and partners about child support.
Ruffa Gutierrez knows this all too well.
In a recent interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), the unica hija of Eddie Gutierrez and Annabelle Rama revealed that Yilmaz Bektas, the father of her two daughters—Lorin, 14, and Venice, 13—managed to send peanuts and about "2,000 dollars" after their separation in 2007.
Ruffa said, "Because every time that we end up talking, it doesn’t end up in a good conversation, so might as well huwag na lang."
Regardless of the circumstances, the nitty gritty of asking for child support has always been a sore subject among separated parents.
In the case of most celebrities, foregoing claims to child support seems to be the more difficult but less stressful choice.
Meryll Soriano and Bernard Palanca got married on September 6, 2006. They broke up in February 2007. Six months after, in August 2007, Meryll gave birth to their child.
One of the first things she did after the split was to make peace with her mom, Becbec Soriano.
On the defunct Entertainment Live!, she tearfully said, "Humingi ako ng tawad... Humingi ako ng tawad, sinabi ko na nagkamali talaga ako.
"'Sorry dahil matigas ang ulo ko. Sorry dahil hindi ako nakinig.'"
Since that time, her family and friends have become her "support group," Meryll related to BabyandBreakfast.ph.
But the single made sure that Bernard won’t be alienated from their son’s life.
"I really made an effort as well na makita yung dad niya para hindi ever ma-feel na ako lang."
"Lakas ng loob"
For 13 years, Sunshine Cruz was financially dependent on her estranged husband Cesar Montano.
When she decided to leave their conjugal home in 2013, she signed a contract with ABS-CBN, where she was cast as a member in the series Dugong Buhay.
In a previous interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), she recounted, "I had no money. I had no job. I had to borrow from my mom para may malipatan kaming bahay ng mga anak ko. Hinulug-hulugan ko yun."
Sunshine, 40, has three daughters with Cesar—Angeline Isabelle, 15; Samantha Angeline, 12; and Angel Francheska, 11.
They all go to De La Salle Santiago-Zobel, where tuition fee costs at least PHP110,000 per student.
Bettina Carlos had just given birth to her daughter Gummy when it finally hit her: “Magiging single mom ako!”
With no television project or corporate gig at that time, she couldn't afford to wallow in self-pity.
So Bettina decided to learn how to bake, and with an investment of PHP10,000, she put up Baked Bites by ABC. It is now celebrating its sixth year.
In a previous interview with PEP, Bettina learned an important lesson. She related, “I think the upside of that is because you know you’re alone, you’re accountable for everything you do, and you’re responsible for the choices and decisions you make.
"Kasi walang sasalo sa ‘yo e, wala kang backup.”
And if there’s one thing she can tell all single moms: “It is difficult at first, but it is not bad at all.”
Ruffa said she's lucky that she has never felt alone in her journey as a single mom, thanks to her family.
"Ayoko nang ma-stress sa buhay ko. Tutal, okay naman ako," she said during her contract signing with Arnold Vegafria's ALV Talent Circuit.
She continued, "So sana kung hindi ako okay or walang pumapasok na projects, walang trabaho, then I would be stressed.
“But I’m also thankful that I have a strong family.
"So, bago ako mangutang sa kanya [Yilmaz], mangungutang muna ako kay Mommy 'tsaka kay Chard,” referring to her younger brother Richard Gutierrez.
Strong for two
When it dawned on LJ Reyes that it was over between her and actor Paulo Avelino, she discovered a kind of strength she never though she had.
In October 2013, "months" after the split, LJ was able to talk about her “discovery.”
One thing she learned: “Na ang tibay ko pala!
“Ang tibay-tibay ko pala. Ang tibay ko.
“Para akong puno. In-absorb ko lang yung tubig, yung ulan, lahat yung hangin, lahat, pero andun pa rin ako.
“Andun pa rin ako.”
She shed tears, yes, but she was able to pull through as soon as she decided that she needed to be stronger for her and her then three-year-old son Aki.
She told PEP in a separate interview early this year, "You become two persons—mom and dad, nurturing and strong. It's hard but it's necessary.
"Hindi lang kasi yung financial, e. Nakaka-overwhelm din yung mag-isa ka."
A proud single mom of five, Janice de Belen had only one constant concern as her children were growing up: "Napapalaki ko kaya nang tama ang mga anak ko?"
Her children—Iggy Boy, Ina, Moira, Kyla, and Yuan—are all grownups now.
And for Janice, seeing all of her daughters graduate from college and her youngest Yuan graduate from high school has been her greatest achievement.
In a previous interview with PEP, she described solo parenting this way: "It's not easy. There's really no formula. But giving up or being weak is no option, especially if you have a lot of kids."
Not holding grudges
Being able to raise her 19-year-old daughter alone proves that K Brosas is a good mother.
In her interview with Karen Davila in March 2017, the comedienne recalled how things turned out when she broke the news of her pregnancy to her daughter’s father. "From the start, nung nalaman niya na buntis ako, ayaw na niya...
"So tanggap ko na. Wala akong hiningi."
K was then 22 years old.
But even if her child’s father was merely a "sperm donor," K hoped that he would eventually become friends with Crystal, her unica hija.
Not the end of the world
In February 2008, Jennylyn Mercado confirmed her breakup with Patrick Garcia on national TV.
Six months later, she gave birth to their son, Alex Jazz.
Though she was able to easily move on from the breakup, it took Jennylyn six years before she could bury the hatchet with Patrick.
Despite what happened, the singer-actress did not consider her situation as a hurdle in achieving her career goals.
In 2014, she said in her Powerhouse interview that being a mom is "mahirap na masarap."
She added, "Hindi porke’t mag-isa ka, mawawalan ka na ng pag-asa."
Love your role
Her son Alejandro was only two years old when Denise Laurel and her Italian-American boyfriend decided to part ways.
Back then, she said her ex-boyfriend was able to give Alejandro financial support.
But her bigger challenge was becoming a mom and a dad to her son.
"It's no joke," she said in a PEP interview.
"So you have to embrace it, work doubly hard, and be proud of it."
Denise is glad that, just like her, Alejandro is not a spoiled child who does not throw tantrums and is not iyakin.
In 2003, the world of Candy Pangilinan fell apart when her husband left her for another woman a month after she gave birth to their son Quentin.
It was a very difficult period for her—she had no work, no money, and was dealing with body issues.
She became part of a theater project, and she recalled making people laugh onstage, but she sobbed backstage after her performance.
It took her a while before Candy could love herself again. "It was a process na kailangan para maging okay ako bilang ina.
"Siguro kelangan mangyari ang mga yun para mahalin ko ang sarili," she said in a PEP interview.
But her ordeal didn’t end with the dissolution of her marriage. Her son was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) plus a “high-sensory integration problem,” so raising him was more challenging than it already was as a single parent.
Candy related, "Kailangan doble lahat ng effort. When you talk to him, tuturuan mo talaga paano yung pronunciation. Kapag may sinasabi, you have to pay attention.
"Pero pag nakita mo na yung little milestones niya, ang saya. Sulit ang effort."
In 2014, Quentin could already communicate well, much to the joy of his mom.
Candy remarked, “May pag-asa because of therapy and consistency. Kailangan tutok at mahabang pasensiya. Magastos din.”
The bigger picture
"I felt I had to be strong," said Pokwang when asked about her failed relationships with the fathers of her two kids.
And just when she thought she had seen the worst, she lost her six-year-old son to a congenital brain ailment.
In her past interview with The Philippine Star, she revealed one of her realizations:
"Their fathers were nowhere in sight, and I have to take over. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Mawalan ka na ng asawa huwag lang mga anak.’”
The bright side
It was in 2013 when Vina Morales admitted that she's a single mom.
That same year, her legal battle with ex-partner Cedric Lee for the custody of their daughter began.
In an exclusive interview with PEP, she described her situation,"Okay naman as a single mom.
"I’m very open about it... Oo, siguro mako-consider na failure ang pagiging single mom.
"Pero suwerte yun kasi nagkaroon ako ng anak, isang buhay na ibinigay sa akin ng Diyos.
"I guess, I take it in a different way, mas positive...
"Maraming single moms kaya! 'Tsaka proud ako!"
Ai-Ai delas Alas is a single mom to two sons, Sancho and Sean Niccolo, and to her daughter named Sofia.
She married former actor Miguel Vera in 1989, but they called it quits in 1996.
Now that all her kids are grownups, Ai-Ai could only smile as she looks back on those early years of her struggle.
In a previous interview with PEP, she related, "Kayod kalabaw din. 'Tapos pag may activity school, siyempre dapat andun ka.
"May Father's Day event nga na ako lang ang babae at sumali sa basketball."
But all her hard work has paid off.
"Tuwing may magsasabi sa ‘kin na 'Ang babait naman ng mga anak mo,’ ‘Maganda yung pagpapalaki mo.’
"Yun, parang nanalo ako ng lotto dun.
"Saka pag tinetext nila ‘ko na, ‘Mommy, maraming salamat dahil pinalaki mo kami kahit mag-isa ka lang.’
"Yun yung napakasarap ng pakiramdam sa ‘kin, yung ina-acknowledge nila, naalala pala nila."