Family ties aren’t usually so good when dads are separated from moms, but it can become great if they meet in the middle through co-parenting.
Such is quite evident in the present relationships of Patrick Garcia and Jennylyn Mercado, Paulo Avelino and LJ Reyes, Jericho Rosales and Kai Palomares, among others. These celebrity parents continue to uphold their duties for their children even when they’re no longer together.
This Father’s Day, we at PhilSTAR L!FE are putting the spotlight on two celebrity dads who are doing their best to make co-parenting work for their children. Read on to know what Jake Ejercito and Rommel Padilla shared with us in line with this modern system, and what makes it worth every second of their lives.
Actor Jake Ejercito became a dad at the age of 21, co-parenting his 9-year-old daughter Ellie with actress Andi Eigenmann. It has been the same since Ellie was born, so the transition wasn’t a difficult feat. There were times, however, when he found the need to explain the situation more clearly. “One moment was when she started going to school and would see other families, but I made sure she would always feel secure of our situation and not feel any difference,” he said.
At first, he admitted, co-parenting was a tough mountain to climb. “It went through a lot of stages and phases before we found the perfect balance and got it right,” shared Jake. Through experience, he eventually learned that it doesn’t have to be rocket science if both parents are focused on their child.
How exactly is he doing that now with Andi? “We have consistent and purposeful communication with Ellie’s best interests as motivation and priority,” he revealed. “Differences and disagreements may still crop up once in a while, but we handle it with maturity and respect for each other knowing we both want what’s best for Ellie.”
The pandemic, he opened up, has posed a hurdle for their usual daddy-daughter dates. “Since Andi is based in Siargao, we have to consider travel restrictions set by the IATF in setting our schedule,” he explained. He’s happy to be able to stay with her for long durations each time the situation permits. “I’m not with Ellie 24/7, so I couldn’t help but spoil her whenever she’s with me,” he added with a laugh. “But I also make it a point she’s aware of it and that she can’t exploit our situation all the time.”
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That’s not the biggest challenge, though—for him, the most difficult ones ultimately boil down to pride. “For it to work, we, co-parents, must keep in mind that our personal relationship is separate from our co-parenting relationship. Our issues are not our child’s, so we keep those to ourselves,” he said.
For Jake, fatherhood has been life’s biggest blessing. “I’m Ellie’s dad before anything else. It’s something I look forward to every waking moment,” he declared.
While the current COVID-19 crisis has been a challenge for Jake in this set-up, it has been the total opposite for actor Rommel Padilla—co-parents of Karla Estrada, Anabelle Antonio, and Edna Mendoza. He's married to Charisse Hibek, with whom he has two kids.
Thanks to his work pass as part of the A4 priority group or “essential workers,” Rommel is able to see his kids more frequently. “Dahil sa pass ko kasi nagta-trabaho ako sa Department of Agriculture, mas napupuntahan ko ang mga anak ko. Nagkakaroon ako ng bonding time with them, nagkakaroon ako ng mas maraming oras sa kanila,” he said.
When asked how he would describe himself as a dad, he referred to him as a “cool” one. This also applies to matters like religion—his children have different beliefs, from Roman Catholic and Christian, to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Islam. “Hindi ko sila inuudyok o inoobliga na sumama sa religion na pinaniniwalaan ko,” he stressed. “The time will come na sila makakakita sa faith nila. Ang importante kasi since then na lahat sila, naniniwala na may Panginooong Diyos. May dapat katakutan at pasalamatan.”
There may be concerns and hitches with his children living in different homes with different people, but he mused it’s simply about knowing how to continue being a part of their lives. What makes everything worth it, after all, is knowing things are okay with his sons and daughters. “Hindi man kayo magkasama sa isang bahay araw-araw, pero kapag magkakasama, parang normal lang. Ganun pa din. Walang angst.”
Beyond that, he’s grateful for his co-parents who have been nothing but understanding with him. “Lahat sila, naging kabahagi ko sa pagpapalaki ng anak namin at natutuwa ako na yung mga nanay nila, hindi selfish sa akin,” he shared. “Kung ano ang pagkukulang ko, pinupuno ng mga nanay.”
“Kaya laging pasasalamat ko ‘yan—na nabigyan ako ng magandang blessing, nagkaco-parents ako na understanding, may sakripisyo sa pag-uunawa, at tinulungan nila ako na maging mabuting ama,” Rommel concluded.
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