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I Feel U: Korina Sanchez and Ruffa Gutierrez on the role of women in relationships and society

Guest Kapamilya Cai Duenas worked as a Program Producer for ABS-CBN’s comedy and talent reality unit for 16 years. But her post was one of the casualties of the company’s retrenchment program brought about by the unfortunate non-renewal of its franchise.

Cai was teary-eyed as she looked back on that dreaded day. It was supposed to be just a day of clean up until she received her separation memo. The conversation with her boss lasted for only a few minutes but the pain was worth the 16 years spent in her beloved network.

Television production has always been Cai’s passion and dream. She grew up watching her mother work for events and productions. Sometimes she would tag along with her. Seeing how much her mother enjoyed the profession, Cai realized she also wanted to be like her.

She had her internship in ABS-CBN and she was absorbed right after graduation. The noise of the production, the lights, the pressure– it’s all in her system and she can do it every day of her life.\

But Cai couldn’t afford to just wait for a miracle to unfold. She knew she had to make a move. The lack of a stable source of income forced her to reduce household spending. She started by listing down their weekly menu to avoid purchasing unnecessary items.

Until, in the third week while writing down her mother’s specialty, Cai had the idea to put up their dream family food business. Her mother has always wanted to sell cooked meals but Cai was too busy with production works. Now that the world is given a universal timeout, she finally got the perfect time to materialize this dream hidden in the little corner of her heart.  

 

Korina Sanchez

With her badass journalistic prowess and ‘Lady Boss’ quality, Korina Sanchez is the epitome of an empowered woman. Even now that the veteran journalist has taken a break from television, she remains a busy woman juggling motherhood, married life and professional obligations.

Korina isn’t just a mother and a wife. Her quarantine days are still spent with virtual meetings and other hustle. But she tries her best to be a hands-on mom to twin kids Pepe and Pilar. If possible, the cutesy duo joins their mama on her Zoom appointments, like what happened in this interview.

Korina has always been a woman of substance and dreams. As a young girl, she wanted to become a singer like her mother Celia Sanchez, whose contemporaries include the likes of Pilita Corales. But her mom had to leave the entertainment scene and focus on other things. Korina grew up marvelling at her mother’s photos. Such dreamy sights spawned her wish to also become an actress someday which she even prayed to God.

As she matured, however, Korina developed her penchant for words. She loved writing. But she also wanted to be seen on TV. Coincidentally, she saw Loren Legarda reporting. That incident spawned her dream to become a broadcast journalist instead –hitting two birds with one stone. 

The smart woman described herself as impatient, although this sounded used in a good way. In college, Korina would skip classes to apply for a media-related job. She was first employed at the age of 19, still a student, as a weather girl for a government broadcast channel. She kept this hidden to her parents. However, her TV appearances inevitably revealed the secret. Not wanting to let go of her post, Korina promised to juggle her work and studies.

In retrospect, she also started at the bottom. There was a point in her career when she worked as an Editorial Assistant, making coffee for Mel Tiangco. 

All the while hustling in her career and education, Korina did not forget to add up a little more spice in her life. She isn’t a stranger to teenage romance, having fallen in love at a tender age. But even if she was young then, she took relationships seriously. All of them were long-term.  

And although she has strong beliefs about love, she made sure not to rush into marriage. “I was saying marriage is not necessary for me. Ang feeling ko kasi talaga, ang babae can be self-sufficient. I think marriage and children don’t have to define you because you define yourself.”

Korina further shared surprising revelations about her romantic life. Before she met her husband Mar Roxas, she was supposed to tie the knot with someone else. The wedding was on the horizon. Her gown was already made, waiting to clad the beautiful bride on the supposed big day. But for some reason, she and her fiancé would always get into arguments. Korina considered the fights as major red flags. She knew she had to take a pause and be sure of her decisions.

Just as when she was having second thoughts, she chanced upon an article about Mar. In that write-up, Mar described his ideal girl as independent, someone who also has a life of her own–exactly how Korina is. “Bakit parang dine-describe niya ako? There’s something here,” she thought. Korina had unexplainable feelings for the man she would often bump into during news coverage in Malacanang. 

It is safe to say that fate played its part when Korina was coincidentally tasked to interview Mar. They were both committed at that time, though. After his guesting on DZMM, he asked her out. It was just a one-time date. They stopped communicating for a year until Mar phoned her up while he was in the States. They went out again as soon as he arrived home. And that was the beginning of their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Korina and Mar exchanged wedding vows in 2009. With her strong personality and goal-oriented attitude, it is easy to assume that Korina is a dominant wife. But she would deny these assumptions. Korina said she is utterly submissive and even her friends are surprised to know that.

She loves to be of service to her husband, a stark contrast to her ‘Lady Boss’ image at work. She would even drop her Zoom meetings when Mar arrives home. 

But being submissive doesn’t mean being weak and loving one’s self any less. For Korina, self-love is the foundation of all human relationships. And this is the life principle she would like to teach her kids. “You have to love yourself first, the right way. If you love yourself, hindi ka magpapaapi sa partner mo. Alam mo kung hanggang saan ka lang and it’s okay to say this is not working. If you love yourself, everything else will follow.”

She added that men and women were made to complement each other. They were put together by nature and by the laws of man and God.  She believes that a supportive woman helps her partner soar higher.

The loving wife is a dutiful mother as well. She looks at Pepe as her source of joy while Pilar as the giver of hope. He is the adorably sweet one while she’s the spunky little Korina. Motherhood gave Korina clarity. The presence of Pepe and Pilar made her see where exactly she’s headed to, her purpose in life.

Korina believes making a difference doesn’t require big gestures. Humanitarian acts can be as simples as her Tsinelas Campaign in Rated K and saving a stray dog, or it can be as noble as sending a kid to school. But no matter how big or small, helping others is man’s greatest purpose. “Our purpose on earth is to make a good difference in helping other people or animals. ‘Yun ang gusto kong ituro kay Pepe and Pilar, na you’re not here for yourself. Yes, love yourself but you also have to make a difference.”

Asked what makes her cry, Korina said, “good movies.” Not that she believes strong women do not shed a tear. Her idea of crying is simply to release the pain and emotions at once. After that, you are brave enough to breathe and start all over again. “Cry a little but get over it because you can stand up. You can rise above that. You’re not having a bad life, you’re just having a bad moment. I refuse to be a victim. ‘Pag may victim mentality ka, waste of time ‘yun. Time passes so fast. Today will never come again. The sunshine is waiting for you. Opportunities are just there and when you’re open it will come.”

Korina does not neglect her skincare and fitness routine. She launched her own beauty line since she’s also a kikay and on a break from TV reporting. “Noong una medyo nahihiya ako sa sarili ko kasi as a newscaster, balot na balot kami. Bakit ako balot na balot? Mag-sleeveless kaya ako at magsuot ng body-fitting na damit, ipapauso ko ‘yun sa TV Patrol pero magpapapayat muna ako.” Korina can now confidently flaunt her youthful glow and sexy figure on social media.

 

Ruffa Gutierrez

If there’s one common trait that Ruffa Gutierrez shares with her onscreen persona Love Thy Woman’s Amanda Del Mundo, it would have to be their unbreakable female strength. As a single mother raising two teenage daughters, Ruffa feels she’s at the most difficult phase of motherhood. She said teenagers mature too fast, so she makes sure to always give Lorin and Venice pieces of advice.

Sometimes she’d find herself acting like her own mom–strict and ‘loud.’ Although she makes jokes about it, Ruffa knows she needs to be as involved as her mother. She makes sure to protect her kids from the public eye. The beautiful girls can do endorsements and online content but they are not yet allowed to take full-on acting projects. Ruffa’s biggest dream for them is they finish their studies first. She also tells Lorin and Venice not to entertain suitors for now.

Ruffa revealed that she cried when Lorin first talked about crushes. She misses cuddling with them and treating them like her babies. But the best thing she could do now is to enjoy the fleeting moments, to make the most of their teenage days.

Raising the girls singlehandedly is a continuous challenge for Ruffa. It’s not easy to act as both the good and the bad cop. Nonetheless, she’s fine with the setup.

Ruffa doesn’t rush into marriage despite her friends’ persuasion. She simply listens to what her heart dictates, adding that it will happen if it’s supposed to happen. The strong view about love is somewhat sharpened by her ‘tragic’ love stories in the past

Not that she’s scared to fall deeply in love again, Ruffa just learned that relationships do not have timelines. She has a story of her own and she is not afraid to bare even its ugly parts. The Kapmilya actress realized that relationships must be anchored on self-love. 

“Love yourself first and be complete before you love someone else,” she expressed. Ruffa also underscored the importance of healing from traumatic relationship experiences. She said bringing the emotional baggage onto the next relationship will only double the harm. There’s a tendency to project the pain to the present partner even if it isn’t his/her fault.

Ruffa has admittedly become more picky and wiser in love. She learned that she has the power to create her own happiness even without a partner. She needs a man who would grow with her and not someone who would try to complete her. She would rather be alone than settle with the wrong man in a destructive relationship.

At the moment, Ruffa’s heart is inspired and “stable.” She’s happy with her relationship with her non-showbiz boyfriend. It helps that her partner is non-showbiz. There’s no need to overshare or publicize their relationship. Likewise, there’s no need to rush. Ruffa said she could marry at 70 if she wants to, and if that’s her own timetable.

For Ruffa, women are the core of any relationship. As the saying goes, “Behind a successful man is a woman.” The former beauty queen believes the way a woman takes care of her man determines the course of the relationship.

In the latter part of the interview, Ruffa answered questions from her eldest Lorin. While studies remain the top priority, Ruffa believes Lorin can become an actress or a beauty queen if she would put her mind and heart into it. Ruffa does not want Lorin to enter showbiz half-baked. She added that the acting profession requires hard work.

The Love Thy Woman star believes the pandemic is changing mankind - from the way of thinking to economic patterns. People have grown more concerned about their health and hygiene. More importantly, we learned to live in the simplest ways. For instance, Ruffa only brought a few clothes and necessities to their locked-in taping. The pandemic is helping us weigh what’s truly important–like family and friends.

Ruffa appreciates the time spent with her parents who are also growing old. She’s known to react to her mother’s strict parenting style but deep inside, she’s grateful for her guidance. On top of that, she’s thankful for her work, knowing that a lot are currently suffering from unemployment. For a single mom like her, having a job is a true blessing. Not only she’s able to provide for the kids but she can also help others.

Ruffa feels proud to be part of Love Thy Woman. She has nothing but praises for the whole team and the ABS-CBN as well. To mount a whole teleserye is already a challenge but to do it amidst the pandemic and the franchise denial is something more. It’s been a test of passion, and she’s glad that they managed to pull off the remaining taping days.

More importantly, she is thankful to the loyal viewers who continue to support them until the end. Ruffa is happy to share that Love Thy Woman remains the top viewed and streamed teleserye in the Philippines and worldwide.