In the course of splitting with husband James Yap, Kris Aquino knows that she has been judged many ways, many times over. Her detractors feel less sympathetic towards her and more inclined to commisserate with James, thinking that the breakdown of her marriage must mostly be her own doing.
On September 29, when Kris was relaunched as the premier endorser of the Belo Medical Clinic at the Red restaurant of Shangrila-Makati, all this did not show. Kris was her usual bubbly self.
"I'm back with the best!" she said twice, in a happy tone.
Of course, she had just closed her doors on two important things in her life—her hosting job in ABS-CBN's Pilipinas, Win Na Win! and her five-year-old marriage.
She admitted feeling a bit cheerless when she learned about losing the job in the noontime show, but said she later welcomed it as a blessing in disguise.
"Honestly, before any other thing, I feel my personal life has to be put in order," the host-actress began. "Kasi, if I look back at the entire year, from August 2009 to now, I haven't really had the chance to just reflect—the loss of my mother, the campaign of my brother, the demise of my marriage."
She knew these have not been simple episodes in her life. But all she was able to do to recover, she said, was have a short break with her family and seek refuge in her work.
The youngest daughter of the late President Corazon Aquino continued, "Parang along the way, I just had to survive. Yung parang kailangan itawid ko lang nang itawid para hindi ako mapahiya, para hindi ko i-disappoint ang mga tao.
"But along the way also, nakalimutan ko 'ata na kailangan ko rin naman talaga mabuo as a person again.
"Kasi, I think, anybody who has gone through a breakup and gone through the loss of a parent, all in a span of one year, yung parang the two pillars of your life, nawala...
"So, ngayon ang kailangan ko is to make sure okay ako within, para my kids will really be okay."
HER ONLY REGRET ABOUT ANNULMENT. Two months since she made her "it's over" announcement pn The Buzz, her annulment case is now in progress at the Makati Regional Trial Court.
"Walang hiwalay na madali," she said.
She is particularly feeling repentant because she went against one of her mother's wishes.
Almost close to tears, she confessed, "Kung puwede lang ma-rewind ang buhay ko na nakinig ako sa mommy ko. May mga in-advise ang mommy ko sa akin bago kami ikinasal na sana kung nakinig lang ako sa mom ko, hindi ko pinagdadaanan ito lahat ngayon.
"I take that as the one lesson in life talaga na everything na sinabi ng mom ko sa akin has been 100 percent accurate."
When asked if she ever regretted being married to the cager, her answer was no.
"I have Bimby, di ba," she said, referring to their son, Baby James.
The Kapamilya star continued, "The regret, if you ask me, was that my mom had said to me, 'I only ask you one thing, humingi ka ng pre-nup [pre-nuptial agreement] para ma-secure mo si Josh." Josh or Joshua is her son with actor Phillip Salvador.
"It was not for any other reason. And sana huwag sabihin ng mga tao na naging matapobre ang pamilya namin or anything like that—hindi, e.
"My mom's concern was because Josh is illegitimate. Josh is a special child who has so many needs.
"So, my mom just wanted, nung time na yun, na kung anong mangyari, hindi darating sa point na maaagrabiyado yung isa kong anak. So, yun ang ano ko ngayon..."
She restrained herself when talk went to the terms of the annulment settlement, but was frank enough to reveal: "Kung meron man akong iniyak in this whole thing, nalugi talaga ang panganay kong anak."
Kris went on, "Medyo kailangan talagang magsumikap kasi, tutal napag-usapan na yung settlement, one-sided po yung settlement—na galing sa akin [lahat ng pagbibigay ng pera]. So, siguro, yun...Yun lang yun.
"It's my fault wala kaming pre-nup, so I'm paying the price for it. Kasi, if there was a child prior to that marriage, yung interest of that child, nasa-sacrifice. Kasi yung conjugal [sa batas], hindi siya [Josh] kaparte ng conjugal na 'yon, e."
At this point, elaborating on how painful it is to have Josh's future affected adversely by the annulment, Kris's voice shook.
"Kasi, tanungin niyo man lahat ng kapatid ko, lahat ng katrabaho ko—kung tungkol sa pera, hindi ako mahirap kausap.
"Pero kung tungkol sa mga anak ko, as much as possible talaga, ipaglalaban ko kasi, yung... Kung meron akong iniyak sa mga kapatid ko kasi...
"Bimby was blessed with every possible benefit—matalino siya, guwapo siya, sa genes niya alam mo magiging athletic siya. Sa school pa lang ngayon, sinasabi he's a born leader, so articulate, so smart.
"Lahat nun, hindi nabigay kay Josh. And yet, si Josh na mas nangangailangan—kung ano yung sana para kay Josh na buong-buo, nakuhanan pa. Yun lang...and yun ang masakit."
She said that if there are two things she has been praying for, these would be—first, that her three-year-old son will not forget his Kuya Josh; and second, that she will live longer than her mom so she can take care of Josh.
"Alam naman nating lahat that Bimby will be a huge success," she said.
"Ang ikinakatakot ko, pag meron nang sariling pamilya si Bimby, pa'no kung sabihin ng asawa na, 'Kelangan ba nating obligasyon ang kuya mo?' Nakuha niyo? Yun lang yun.
"Kaya gusto ko lang talagang ma-make sure na mabuhay akong matagal to be able to take care of Josh because he's the one who needs it."
A reporter brought up the issue of financial support.
Kris didn't give away too much on this subject. She said, "Wala. Hindi ko hiningi. At hindi rin naman in-offer. Kaya wala."
The press probed: Walang kusa?
She laughed, before answering, "E, tinatanong niyo ako, e. Pero, in all fairness, hindi na rin ako humingi kasi gugulo lang."
JAMES YAP'S POSSIBLE INCOME. The sought-after endorser could not give a clear-cut explanation why her husband—who, according to her, is presently the "highest-paid" player in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association)—did not pledge any amount for their son.
(At the PBA, although P350,ooo/month is the official cap on salaries of professional ball players, which officially totals P4 million/year—the real income of a well-known player does not go down P500,000/month. This is according to sports editors PEP spoke to.)
(Neither does the income end there, say the sports editors. There are many bonuses coming from team owners: win-game bonus, quarterfinals bonus, finals bonus, victory bonus, Mythical Five bonus, MVP-award bonus. There is also free travel and other behind-the-scenes deals or side agreements possible between the player and the team management, which may not show on the official contract. Then there is the most lucrative of all: their endorsement fees.)
During the Belo press launch, Kris said only, "But it's in my position to say na hindi ko hiningi 'yan. And siguro also, hindi mo naman kelangan hingin.
"Feeling ko kasi...ang iniisip ko na lang kasi...I honestly think na maybe you have to remember we're eleven years apart. He's twenty-eight, the level of responsibility... [He would be thinking] 'Malaki naman ang kinikita mo, e, di kayang-kaya mo.'"
Kris made it sound like it's no big deal to her, but she did say this wish aloud: "Sana lang na, pag may mangyari sa akin, hindi niya pababayaan si Bimby. Yun lang."
LESSONS LEARNED. Kris is grateful, she says, that throughout this ordeal her sisters—Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Viel Aquino-Dee, and Pinky Aquino-Abellada—have not left her side. She also didn't get any I-told-you-so line from any of them.
But they did say, "Sana natuto ka na."
And when it comes to her marrying again, "Ayaw na nilang lahat!"
She added, laughing, "Sinasabi lang ng mga kapatid ko sa akin na, 'Awat ka na!' And sabi pa ni Ate [Ballsy] sa akin na, 'Mag-boyfriend ka na lang, ha, but please don't get married.'
"Sabi ko, 'Ate naman, gusto ko naman makasal sa church.' Sabi niya, 'Krissie, siguro pag eighty ka.'"
Then Kris added, "Yung parang, at least, in all fairness my family has a sense of humor about me."
The Queen of All Media—which is how Kris was referred to during the Belo launch—shared this:
"They said it best. Na it was difficult enough to have a relationship with me when I was just Kris Aquino, the star, what more in the next six years that I'm Kris Aquino, the youngest sister of the President, di ba?
"So parang you will always have doubts about the sincerity. Everybody will always have an opinion."
And what do her kids say about her finding a new love?
Her face lit up as she recounted, "Sabi ni Bimby, 'Mama if you have boyfriend, ibabang-bang ko siya.' So yun talaga... So parang mahirap talaga.
"Si Joshy, tinanong ko, 'Can I have boyfriend?' 'Yes, Mama. Basta si Yaya A, no boyfriend.'" Yaya Ana has been taking care of Josh for 15 years now.
AVOIDING GOSSIP. So far, two guys have been linked to the youngest sister of President Noynoy Aquino.
The first was Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, whose sighting with Kris in Glorietta 4 last August 30 created a buzz. The moment was later satisfactorily explained as an accident of circumstance, but the buzz had reached far and wide.
Their status now, according to the Kris: "We stopped talking."
She went on to explain that Junjun, the current Mayor of Makati City and the son of current Vice President Jejomar Binay, even visited Bimby when the latter was hospitalized recently. But she underscored that they were just friends—and that she still made the decision to stop talking to him.
Her explanation: "Kasi I want to be proper, and he understood it. Sabi ko, 'Kahit na friends kami, mami-misinterpret yung friendship natin.'
"To be perfectly honest, dumalaw kasi siya sa ospital kay Bimby. And then, tinanong siya ni Bimby, 'You're my mama's friend?' 'Tapos sinabi niya, 'Yes.' Wala ako dun nung time na yun.
"And then, I talked to him after that, and then I said that, 'Even if we're just friends, it will be subject to misinterpretation by so many people, so, kawawa ka naman. Lalo na na ikaw ang may karapatan na manligaw ng kahit na sinong gusto mong ligawan.'"
Right now, she repeated: "So we don't talk, we don't communicate. Yun...yun lang...Kasi parang kawawa siya, kawawa ako, so kaysa ma-tsismis pa, mahusgahan pa kami, huwag na lang."
And to put an end to all rumors reviving her past with ex-boyfriend Joey Marquez, she categorically said during the interview that the Joey M she referred to recently was not Joey Marquez.
"Joey Manahan nga!" she exclaimed. "He was so nice to us, kasi he's a state representative in Hawaii who is in charge of tourism.
"'Tapos, kasi nga pamangkin siya ni Mr. M, nung nagpunta kami dun last year, nakuhanan niya ako ng discount sa mga hotel rooms. So, siyempre, greet ako nang greet sa kanya kasi election na. Everybody naman natutuwa sa discount, di ba?
"And because sinabi niya na, 'So many Filipinos know her and she'll promote it...' And then I had a whole magazine spread about Hawaii and all, so yun, he kinda upgraded kami.
"I paid the regular rate pero na-upgrade kami, yung mga ganun...And grineet ko lang siya 'tapos in-issue na 'ko...
"Sabi ko, 'Alam mo kung gusto niyo talagang maglagay ng malisya, makakahanap at makakahanap ka ng malisya pero, utang na loob naman, I know better."
BEING CIVIL WITH JAMES. When the topic finally segued to her husband, she said they were on speaking terms. "But we cannot be best friends," she declared.
"Iba yung interpretation ko ng friend. Konting-konti lang talaga yung friends ko. Pero yung friend for me, like Lucy [Torres-Gomez] and I, maybe two months had passed nang hindi kami nagkikita, pero with one conversation, naka-catch up na kami with everything that happened.
"And I know na everything I shared with her, hindi...hindi buong Kongreso o buong Ormoc, makakarinig, alam mo yun?
"In the same way that my friendship with [my managers] Deo [Edrinal] and Boy [Abunda] is like that, with my cousin Rina [Teopaco], it's like that."
A friend, she said, is somebody "na magpapakamatay ako at papatay ako para sa kanya kasi ganun ka-solid."
And she admitted that she could not commit to that kind of friendship with the man who was her husband of five years.
But she said she will always be civil to James. "We'll be polite with each other. And we have a common goal, to raise a good citizen in our son."
Continuing, she said, "Pero it's not like I'll share my secrets with him, and it's not like he's gonna tell me na, 'Hoy nililigawan ko na si ganito,' di ba? Walang ganun."
At this point, she touched on her background: "I saw my mother play all roles, and so maybe that has been partly why it's been difficult for me to succeed in a relationship.
"Because my role model was someone who was alone, and who really gave her children 100 percent of herself."
Cory Aquino had to play mother and father to the family because Ninoy—the original politician in the family and the man touted to succeed Ferdinand Marcos as president of the republic—was immediately thrown into a Marcos prison during martial law. He was allowed to rejoin the family, but only in exile in the United States, when he needed heart surgery. Cory stood as the center of the family throughout those years.
Today, Kris Aquino said, sounding upbeat: "Ang suwerte ko na lang ngayon talaga is, nakikita niyo...in love talaga ako sa anak ko."