Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

How Bianca Gonzalez-Intal keeps her daughters grounded in truths

By STEPHANIE ZUBIRI, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 07, 2024 5:00 am

It’s hard for me to look at Sebastian and think that he once was this super-chubby, roly-poly, happy baby that accompanied me everywhere. In two months, he will be 10. Double digits. Max, meanwhile, has just turned eight. Time spent with them is incredibly fun and conversations around the dinner table have become true teaching moments. Although they are more independent and there’s no longer the need for diapers and bottles, there is a much more demanding need for handholding and life lessons. The issues become more complex: they involve feelings, friendships, and social dynamics; learning to deal with failure or disappointment, or how to gracefully and graciously celebrate success.

The real parenting has begun. And so have the worries that come with it.

Both my daughters are morena like me, so I actively emphasize that it’s okay to be dark. I just tell them, what’s important is you’re not sunburnt and it’s not painful.’

Each generation has their own issues and it’s hard to ignore the fact that social media has made a huge impact on the way we parent. The digital world is difficult to navigate. Especially in the space where fame and validation have metrics and real numbers; where one can feel so close to a stranger and their advice or lifestyle may have more of an impact than those who are close to you. It’s a space where anyone can have their own limelight and our image and persona take center stage.

“It’s more important to be kind than cute. My husband and I do our best to praise positive personality traits rather than their looks,” says Bianca with husband JC and daughters Lucia and Carmen.

It’s not the environment I grew up in and, frankly, I am still coming to terms with my own issues about this and I know I’m not alone. I feel like this issue is more difficult for women, whose idea of self-worth often falls victim to traditional notions of beauty. I can’t help but think of the song from West Side StoryFeel Pretty—whose very lyrics celebrate the archaic notion that “prettiness” is the most important thing needed to feel loved.

Bianca Gonzalez Intal is one of my dearest friends. We spent many years co-hosting Modern Living TV when, each season, at least one of us was pregnant. We both saw our children grow from infants to real little people. The TV personality, author, podcaster and co-founder of She Talks Asia has built her career on breaking stereotypes and challenging traditional ideas of beauty. As a mother of two girls, these issues are important to her.

Bianca Gonzalez-Intal and Stephanie Zubiri spent many years co-hosting Modern Living TV. “ We saw our children grow from infants to real little people.”

“Just the other day coming home from school, my youngest daughter Carmen (was) sticking her head out the window,” shares Bianca. “Our ate was in the car with us and she told Carmen, ‘Ang itim itim mo na.’” This struck a chord with Bianca, who has spent most of her years as a model championing the natural morena skin. “It’s a very normal, Pinoy thing to say; I don’t fault them for that because it’s what she probably heard growing up all her life. Both my daughters are morena like me, so I actively emphasize that it’s okay to be dark. I just tell them, ‘It’s okay to be dark but what’s important is you’re not sunburnt and it’s not painful.’”

It’s small moments like these that lay the foundation of good values for our children. Fortunately, our generation of parenting knows the importance of being present. There’s been a big shift in the way we parent. “Presence is so important now,” she says. “Growing up, the norm was parents going to work and having bonding time with kids on the weekends. Uso na ngayon to make your child feel loved and supported.”

For someone who has millions of followers on social media, Bianca’s biggest concern is how to keep her daughters grounded. It’s a tricky situation because, on the one hand, her large following and solid audience base is not only a source of income but also an impactful platform for her advocacies. Her daughters are often exposed to her sitting on the makeup chair getting glammed up for events and hosting gigs. “My girls find it fun, the lipstick, the nail polish. I think it’s a girl thing and that’s okay,” Bianca explains. “But they know it’s for work. In the everyday, when I pick them up for school or in the house, I’m always bare-faced.”

She also shares that she never deletes negative comments or blocks trolls. “It might seem sadista but I want a balance of people who say nice things about me and not nice things, because that’s life…. So, for my children, I’m trying to figure out a way where you can make them feel supported but at the same time point out what needs improvement.”

Every day Bianca has a small ritual. She leaves little notes in her daughter’s lunchboxes: handwritten affirmations adorned with stickers to help build their self-esteem in a positive way. “I write things like: ‘Do you know how awesome you are?’ ‘You are brave,’ ‘You are strong,’ or ‘I love you.’ It might seem like just a small, cute thing, but I feel like if they hear or see these words every day then there will be some sort of effect on them.”

Here are a few more nuggets of wisdom Bianca shared with me during our episode of “Soulful Feasts.”

Respect consent

She recounts how difficult it was for her to take a major brand endorsement with her firstborn when she was still an infant. “It was for a baby skincare line and a huge campaign—commercials, posters, billboards. It was such a moral dilemma because consent is so important to me. I don’t want her to grow up and say, ‘Why did my mom make me do this?’” After discussing with her husband JC Intal, they decided that the compensation meant for her would go entirely to her. “It’s their own thing. They have their own payment and savings. The talent fee is theirs.” Today, at ages five and eight, Bianca shares that both Carmen and Lucia already understand the concept of product endorsements or photos. So she always makes sure to ask them first if it is something they would like to do. “If they don’t like the product, I will have to decline. And even further, my husband and I try to respect when they don’t want their photo or video taken. Even when it’s just for us to keep the memory because we think they are so cute. If they say no, we respect it.”

United front

Thankfully we both get along with how we raise our girls,” shares Bianca about her husband. “We were raised similarly in a Catholic family that was not too conservative and not too lenient; and we both have a sense of what we wanted to change from how we were brought up. It’s a good thing that we are aligned in that, because I can imagine how hard it is if, like, one says something different (from what) the other one says.”

It’s more important to be kind than cute

In the Philippines, the first thing people praise is one’s looks. I see it all the time with my own mother. She is so tied to how “guapo” her grandsons are to the point that I NEVER tell them they’re handsome because I don’t want them to think it’s important. I prefer to say things like “I’m so proud of you,” “You’re so smart,” or “I love how compassionate you are.” Or when they dress themselves and want affirmation on their appearance, I try to say “You look so cool, so stylish.” In a similar vein, Bianca always tells her children: “It’s more important to be kind than cute.” “My husband and I do our best to praise positive personality traits rather than their looks. Like how thoughtful or brave they are. It’s so hard when it’s everyone around them that does it, but hopefully they will always remember what we’ve said.”

Praise the effort, not the outcome

We both saw this phrase somewhere and it stuck with us,” she says. “For example with artwork, rather than simply saying ‘It’s so nice’— because, of course, as parents every artwork they do is so nice!—we try to say things like, ‘That’s so imaginative how you drew this house,’ or ‘I like the colors you used here.’”

Values are caught, not taught

This saying is important to me, because no matter how much we tell them, in the end it’s what they see in us,” emphasizes Bianca. “Sometimes, we don’t even have to tell them, but they see us doing it and they imbibe it. They get it.”