For Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales, there’s nothing more rewarding than being parents to their twins, Atasha and Andres. But just like any other parent, they have had their share of challenges when it comes to raising their kids as well.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, the couple expressed some insights that most parents could relate to:
ON THEIR DAILY GRIND
Of course, we follow you guys on Instagram and we just love seeing snippets of your lives. But what is it really like in the Muhlach household?
AGA: Most of the time, we just stay at home. The kids go to school and we just wait. Charles and I have been doing the same thing for the past 16 to 17 years. Every morning, we talk and have coffee. Then, we work out, and go home. Then, the kids arrive.
It was different when they were younger. It was all play time, play time, play time. But now that they’re teens, they have their own lives. They go to their room, they have their friends, they go to the gym, they have practice. So it’s pretty normal. Kami ang hindi normal kasi lagi kaming nasa bahay. Haha!
CHARLENE: I think we were really just lucky to have the opportunity to give the kids the gift of our time. We see it now that they’re older, we are able to feel the fruits of time given to them. Before exposing the kids to our type of work, we made a conscious effort for them to have a private life--so they can grow up and enjoy their childhood memories.
AGA: But when the kids are away, it’s okay because Charles and I spend a lot of time together. We allow the kids to go out, to the mall, or have dinner with friends. We just always have to know where they are. Same with me when I go out and bike; I always report to Charles when I’m in my destination already!
ON JUGGLING MULTIPLE TO-DOS
Some fans consider you as the ultimate “#FamilyGoals”. How do you manage to maintain a close-knit family, despite your busy schedule?
CHARLENE: Just like any other family would. We have our priorities. We work hard but we remember to kick back and relax once in a while. Together, we like to stay home, order Jollibee, watch a movie, or play basketball. We’re all part of varsity teams! Aside from basketball, Atasha also plays rugby, while Andres goes to the gym. We take them to their games, watch them, take videos, and cheer them on.
AGA: Personally, our current routine helps us juggle the things we need to do. Charlene and I have our coffee in the morning and spend hours just talking. At night, before we sleep, we could talk for hours on end. We always do things together. She is my moral support. When I’m super stressed and feeling really down, she’s my gentle reminder saying, “Hey, everything’s okay. You’re in a good place, a good position. Remember that and keep that in your heart.” Just hearing those words from your wife, and everything changes. I sometimes get too involved with the world and get busy and overwhelmed. She’s there to say stop--and I’ll stop everything. She makes me realize that I really have nothing to worry about. And it’s the same the other way around, when she’s stressed.
ON BEING A CELEBRITY FAMILY
How do you keep up with the pressure of being a celebrity family?
CHARLENE: We try to live a normal life as much as possible. But what’s important is how we guide our kids to become grounded individuals, despite the challenges or pressures of the celebrity lifestyle. The hard part as parents is “letting go” of your children, as they become teenagers and then enter adulthood. Aga and I had to rethink and say, “You know what, they’re big already,” so we kind of have to redirect them.
AGA: Yeah, we know when we have to back off a bit. Now is the time to just let them be a little independent or let them grow on their own. I grew up independently and I want them to experience the same thing. There’s a certain age that telling them what to do isn’t always the way to go, so you let them be.
CHARLENE: We raised our kids to have a simple lifestyle, not to spoil them too much, and let them do what they want. We’ve always taught them to be independent at a young age.
ON BEING ATASHA AND ANDRES’ PARENTS
What is the best thing about being the parents of Atasha and Andres?
CHARLENE: I’m proud that they’re humble human beings and I feel that their kindness is there. I feel that they’re God-fearing. One of the hardest things in life is finding true happiness and that’s my wish for them. For them to be happy and for them to be able to find out what they really want to do in life.
AGA: Yes, happiness not with things, but with life as you wake up and experience it. That’s why now when they ask, “Dad can I go to this or that?” I would be like, “Go ahead!” I want them to experience that. What makes me proud is: You see them just being normal. Parang feeling ko sa pagiging artista kong active na active ako, yet we were able to bring up our kids to live as normally as they could. Not that there's anything wrong with being in the industry. It’s just that they don’t need it. If we can provide while they’re kids, we will do that. But they know for a fact that after college, they’re really on their own. We’ve instilled that, it’s not gonna be us providing them and working for them. Haha! Well, that’s what I tell them.
CHARLENE: While they were growing up, we really waited until the last minute before giving them cellphones and exposing them to social media. It was just recently that they got their phones, because we wanted to instill in them to enjoy life.
ON RAISING GOOD-NATURED TEENAGERS
We just adore how Atasha and Andres grew up to be well-rounded teenagers. Would you have any tips for parents on how to raise their kids?
AGA: Teach them not to be react negatively to people. There is no such thing as perfect. When we get offended, we learn to forgive and just free yourself from anger. So forgive freely. Just be kind always, because you never know who you’re going to meet along the way. I think the kids are okay naman. I hope so. Haha!
CHARLENE: My advice is to be close to your kids. We’re all pretty close. Sometimes the kids would already ask us, “After college can we stay with you guys?” That’s pretty unusual because some kids want to leave right after college. So Aga and I would laugh about it when they say, “Oh, we want to be with you guys, still.” I think it’s because now that they’re older, it’s more of a friendship that we have. And of course, because your family deserves the best, always give them the best—that will be the greatest reward in your life.
ON GIVING THEIR KIDS THE BEST
You did mention “giving them your best” in your recent Jollibee commercial. Could you share with us instances when you felt that you were able to give them that?
CHARLENE: We give them the best every day—in moments both special and mundane. We support them in things they want to do. We give them guidance and advice when they need it. At the same time, we let them experience their own mistakes. As a mom, it’s hard to let them grow that way but it’s a reminder that we really have to let them fly.
AGA: To add, I’m not just saying this because we’re endorsers, but Jollibee definitely plays a big role in giving the best because just like me, they grew up with the brand. Every time the kids would have their birthdays, Jollibee would be there. There was a time where we would sleep and go camping in Batangas with the kids--and the Jollibee mascot would be there in the wilderness! Haha! Because of Jollibee, the kids had so many wonderful memories.
In case you missed it, catch their latest Jollibee TVC here: