I Feel U: Karla Estrada, Sunshine Cruz, K Brosas, Marvin Agustin share the struggles and victories of being a single parent

Fatima Lorete from Hong Kong and Reynald Mendoza from Illinois 

As the 13th episode of “I Feel U” pays tribute to single parents from different walks of life, host Toni Gonzaga introduced two Kapamilya OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) who singlehandedly raise their kids. 

Fatima Lorete, a domestic helper from Hong Kong, has been a single mom since her only daughter was born eleven years ago. She hasn’t been home for almost a year now. As a mother working overseas, Fatima missed most of her child’s milestones and special moments. “Sobrang dami! Kung paano siya natutong magsulat, ‘yung mga achievements sa school, wala ako and especially birthdays niya,” she said. Yet, Fatima is willing to sacrifice all the more for her daughter’s future. She added that every sacrifice on her part is done out of love and desire to provide for her child’s needs.  

Unlike Fatima, Illinois-based entrepreneur Reynald Mendoza is with his children. The single father admits that he somewhat compromised his marriage for his career. But he made a decision to let go of the hurt, to forgive and forget. According to Reynald, being a single dad is not an easy task, especially for someone like him raising a son and a daughter with diverse personalities. Things were different, of course, when the kids’ mother was still around. Nonetheless, Reynald learned to mentor the children and raise them well. He emphasized the power of prayers and of knowing that everything happens for a reason in navigating the ups and downs of single parenting. 

K Brosas

In her 20 years in showbiz, K Brosas had both victories and defeat. Her journey wasn’t smooth-sailing and their came moments when it felt stagnant. Yet, passionate about her craft, K never thought of quitting. And with every effort to keep pressing forward came an opportunity to evolve as an artist. 

K started acting in theaters as a teenager. She got pregnant at 22, and then worked as an OFW while her daughter Crystal was only three years old. When she came back to the Philippines, she began to pursue a showbiz career. K was known as a well-rounded artist since then.  

The perseverance was rooted from the desire to give her child a good life. As a single mother for 23 years, K makes sure that her decisions are anchored on her daughter’s welfare, although showbiz commitments often force her to sacrifice quality time with Crystal. Seeing the latter grow up into a respectful and strong individual, K feels like every sacrifice was worth it. She also considers Crystal’s college graduation as one of the biggest rewards of parenthood. 

In an Instagram post, K expressed full support to Crystal who came out as a lesbian. She thought there’s no need to go public but it was Crystal who wanted to be more open about her sexual preference. “Ipaglalaban ko kung ano ‘yung karapatan niya,” said K. 

K won’t deny that she’s ready to enter a new relationship and she has Crystal’s support on this. “Lagi naman tayong handa, ang problema waley. Kasi kung may darating, bakit ko naman ide-deprive ang sarili kong kaligayahan?” The singer-comedienne revealed that she has high expectations which often halt potential relationships. “Ang hirap makahanap ng mas strong kaysa sa akin kasi nai-intimidate most of the time,” she admits. 

Answering questions from Crystal, K mentioned that she would like to be remembered for making other people laugh. She’s ready to see Crystal walk down the aisle five years from now, albeit she underscored that keeping a specific deadline for major life accomplishments is an attitude that millennials must break.  

As advice to single moms like her, K underscored the importance of keeping an open communication, adding that a strict parenting style might only push the child to keep secrets and become rebellious. 

Sunshine Cruz

When Sunshine Cruz got separated with ex-husband Cesar Montano in 2013, she realized the importance of self-love that can be practiced through the likes of exercise and beauty routine, although she doesn’t regret pouring all her time to her family and kids back then. Sunshine clarified that self-care isn’t a form of selfishness but an important aspect of maintaining a healthy well-being.  

Sunshine might have a pristine angelic beauty but she has a warrior’s heart. As a single mom to her three equally beautiful daughters for seven years, Sunshine once doubted her abilities to provide their wants and needs. She expressed gratitude to ABS-CBN for helping her get back up during those trying times. “Sila ‘yung sumalo sa akin. After a week na mabalita na separated na ako, dumating ‘yung offer sa akin at nagtuloy-tuyloy ‘yun talaga,” she recalled. The shower of blessings and projects replaced Sunshine’s fears with a brighter sense of hope.

Her kids’ scholastic achievement is what makes Sunshine most proud of being a single parent. She won’t deny that her family is far from being perfect yet she’s fulfilled to see her children grow up into respectful and loving individuals. She’s happy that her daughters listen to her advice. There are showbiz projects offered to Angelina, Sam and Chesca but their studies remain their top priority.  

After four years of being separated, Sunshine’s romantic life bloomed all over again when she met Macky Mathay. “I was so focused with work. Sa hindi inaasahang pagkakataon, may nag-DM at nagpakilala na kapatid daw siya ni Ara Mina,” said Sunshine, looking back on how she met her current boyfriend. 

Sunshine praised Macky for being supportive of her daughters as well. She revealed that Macky is always present during her kids’ special moments like graduation. “I’m very blessed to have someone like him na hindi lang ako ang mahal at tanggap kundi pati mga anak ko.”

Sunshine answered questions sent by her tres marias. Her eldest Angelina asked if having children once stopped her from accomplishing a goal. Sunshine had to admit that she took a break from showbiz and become a full-time housewife. This was a mutual decision between her and Cesar back then. “Pero hindi ko ire-regret na  dumating ‘yung point na 24/7 nandyan ako sa tabi ng mga anak ko. Maybe kaya sila lumaki na mababait na mga bata kasi natutukan at naalagaan ko sila,” she expressed. 

On the hardest obstacle of being a single mother, as asked by Sam, Sunshine thought of time management. They had to sacrifice time spent together, so Sunshine can go back to work and provide for their needs. She thinks being an introvert helps her set her priorities. When free from work obligations, Sunshine would rather crave for quality time with her children at home. 
Marvin Agustin 

The public has witnessed Marvin Agustin grow from a teen heartthrob to a mature actor, from working side by side a love team partner in romantic films to taking on serious dramatic roles. We’ve also known him as an entrepreneur and restaurateur, but we rarely get to see Marvin in the most important and fulfilling role in his life – being a father to his twin kids. In this episode of “I Feel U,” Marvin opens up about nurturing his modern family as a single dad.

But first, the actor had a nostalgic travel down memory lane as he looked back on his filmography. He said it made him feel like a teenager again. On top of the list is “FLAMES The Movie,” his first project with Jolina Magdangal on the big screen. This opened up a slew of many more assignments with his long time on-screen partner. Marvin and Jolina’s team-up started one afternoon during a live show for ASAP. “Pinagsama kami sa isang spiel and that’s when the management, the writers saw the chemistry and the potential of us being paired together.”  

He vividly remembers how things seemed surreal at that time. Being an actor at the age of 17, Marvin felt like he was just daydreaming, much more when they got to work with Maricel Soriano and William Martinez for “Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo” in 1998. 

In that same year, Marvin and Jolina headlined their first ever lead roles via romantic movie “Labs Kita, Okey Ka Lang” where they portrayed the now-iconic characters of Ned and Bujoy. The duo might have had apprehensions at that time but their undeniable chemistry was a hit to moviegoers, taking them to their second lead for “Hey, Babe” in 1999. 

Taking a break from mushy loveteam projects, Marvin served his audiences serious dramatic chops in “Tanging Yaman” in 2000. He felt different without Jolina by his side yet he considered “Tanging Yaman” as the beginning of a new chapter in his career. “’Yung transition ko noon bilang waiter and mascot into artista, it wasn’t just work that was being presented to me. It was a new life, a new beginning,” expressed Marvin, overwhelmed with nostalgia of his teenage years. 

Taking us to his life behind the cameras, Marvin considers fatherhood as his biggest and most life-changing role. He said having kids changed his perspective about life and taught him how to be selfless. His twin sons are his biggest source of motivation and the reason for all that he does. 

Although he’s long parted ways with the mother of his children, Marvin emphasized that they will remain friends. They made a promise to always be on good terms, so to co-parent the kids. “Pinangako lang namin sa isa’t isa na we may not be like the other families and typical parents na magkasama palalakihin ang anak, dapat may extra effort tayo to be best friends and make sure na maganda relationship namin.”

The doting father believes that seeing his kids happy and independent is the biggest reward of being a parent. “’Pag naramdaman mong hindi sila dependent sa tao. Pag nararamdaman mong they can stand in their own feet at na-prepare mo sila sa mundo,” expressed Marvin.

Karla Estrada 

Talking about the struggles and victories of a single parent, Karla Estrada looked back on being a mother at the age of 19, to now-famous actor Daniel Padilla. The surprising news came in during the peak of her career, three years after she was launched as a teen star. 

“Siguro dahil ako lang ang nagwowork for the family, so ako din ang boss. Walang makapagsabi sa akin kung ano ang tama at mali. Along the way mayroon akong mga nagawang maling decisions,” she confessed. Being a young single parent, of course, was difficult. But thanks to her own mother, Karla was able to survive all the struggles. Thankfully, the father of her children showed up to help her in the finances and in raising the kids. Karla, however, continued to take on the role of the family’s breadwinner. 

Asked about the challenges of being a mother, Karla thought of seeing her children get sick. She can always make a way to provide for her kids’ needs and wants but she can never afford to see them suffer from poor health. Despite the difficulties, Karla finds joy and rewards that only motherhood can bring, especially when she sees her kids growing up into responsible and God-fearing individuals. 

Karla believes that a child’s attitude outside the home always reflects the parent’s own behavior. That’s why she would always remind her children to be mindful of their actions. 

Now that Daniel and his siblings are all grown-up and doing well in their chosen careers, Karla does not deny her desires to get married someday. “Sana! Gusto ko kasi pangarap ng Mama ko din ‘yan and she’s 76 already at wala pa siyang anak na ikinakasal,” she revealed. 

Karla got a little surprise when boyfriend Jam Ignacio aired his question, “Ngayong nandito na ako, okay lang ba na huwag na akong umalis sa buhay mo?” Coincidentally, Daniel arrived before she was able to express her answer. As a response to Jam’s pick-up line, of course, she wants him to stay in her life. 

Karla expressed that Jam is her source of calm, simple feelings of happiness. She mentioned that Jam reminds her to look after herself while caring for others.