I Feel U: Stories of struggles and sweet victory by Assunta and Alessandra De Rossi

We all love to hear stories that strengthen our hope and leave us in awe of miracles. Assunta De Rossi sure has a beautiful tale that reminds us to surrender and trust in life’s perfect timing.

In this episode of I Feel U, it was discussed that Assunta tied the knot with politician and businessman Jules Ledesma almost two decades ago. She was struggling to get pregnant for eighteen years. In 2016, the couple started to take the scientific route. They tried to conceive via IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) but the first attempt was unsuccessful.

Assunta still had frozen embryos but since the first try turned out a failure, and emotionally devastating, she decided to take a pause. She didn’t want to go through the same process and the same heartbreak in case it fails again. She would instead divert her focus on work and try to feel better.

Moving on to 2020, Assunta felt she’s ready to try once more.  The couple was supposedly planning a series of trips abroad but then the pandemic happened. For her 37th birthday last year, they celebrated in Amanpulo along with relatives.

A week later, Assunta noticed the sudden glitch in her menstrual calendar. Her period was delayed but she assumed it was simply due to factors like aging and stress. Her husband, Jules, would chalk it up to pregnancy. Yet, she didn’t want to expect, tired of keeping her hopes up after the eighteen-year struggle.

To be sure, she went straight to her doctor for consultation. She was asked to undergo a blood test first. While waiting for the result, she decided to drive back home to take a rest before going back to the hospital by lunchtime, clueless that it’s going to be the day her prayers are finally answered.

The doctor told her the result was positive. She was in disbelief. It was followed by an ultrasound confirming that she’s five weeks pregnant.

Assunta thought of her pregnancy as a pleasant surprise. She didn’t get emotional, as one might assume. It didn’t sink in. “I know it’s a bit anticlimactic kasi nga siguro sa dami ng disappointments ko noon, parang ‘yung reaction ko, ‘Okay, pregnant ako.’ Hindi ko na siya ma-absorb. Hindi ako ‘yung mag-iyakan tayo o magtatatalon ako sa tuwa.”

Assunta’s baby girl, Giulia Fiorentina Alessandra or simply Fiore, is turning four months. It’s the stage of babyhood where a mom is totally sleep-deprived. Assunta thought long hours of taping was a good training ground for sleepless nights but it still feels different, more exhausting when due to taking care of a newborn. “Iniisip mo, ‘Artista ako, eh. Sanay ako sa puyatan.’ Pero pagdating ng baby, ‘Pwede bang mag-shooting na lang ako ulit?’”

Add to that the challenge of breastfeeding. She now feels for other moms, who are judged for staying at home. She said nursing a child is a draining activity, “Kailangan natin ng fuel kaya minsan pipilitin natin kumain kahit wala tayong gana o pagod na pagod tayo. We need fuel para mapakain natin ng maayos ang anak natin. It’s a lot of hard work.”

While being a stay-at-home breastfeeding mom is exhausting, Assunta treasures each moment with her “miracle baby.” She knows the time will come that her child would learn to thrive on her own, so she wants to cherish the fleeting baby days.

For the second part of the interview, Assunta is joined by her sister and best friend Alessandra De Rossi.

Alessandra recalled Assunta’s journey to motherhood. She knew her sister’s struggles and depression, thus she’d often try to uplift her spirits. As how we know Alessandra, she loves to pepper love and compassion with jokes.

She was with Assunta during the latter’s 37th birthday celebration in Amanpulo. She was trying to make her feel better that day, knowing her sister is still sad over the pregnancy struggles. Alessandra told Assunta not to confine a woman’s purpose just within the realm of motherhood. She quipped, “Kapag nakita ko si Suhsmita Sen, sasampalin ko talaga siya. Kasi sabi niya, ‘The essence of a woman is to bear a child.’ Sino’ng may sabi niyan? Paano ikaw, you cannot bear a child, wala kang essence? Ako, single, wala akong essence?” Alessandra was referring to the winning answer of Miss Universe Sushmita Sen in 1994.

Prior to that, Alessandra was supportive of Assunta’s decision to undergo IVF. She was even willing to carry the child for her. But she suddenly turned busy due to the blockbuster success of “Kita Kita.”  She revealed, “Sabi ko, ‘Gusto mo ba ako magdala?’ Eh, sumabog ‘yung Kita Kita, sabi ko, ‘Wait lang ha, may pupuntahan pa pala ako.’ Willing na talaga akong gawin para sa kanya pero tinawanan niya lang ako.”

By Assunta’s 37th birthday, Alessandra already gave up on her sister’s wish to conceive. After all, she believes that being childless won’t make Assunta less of a woman. She just thought their youngest sister would be the first mom among the four of them.

When she finally learned the news, Alessandra was over the moon and she was dying to spread the word. However, Assunta wanted to keep it a secret first. Besides the wish for privacy, they also didn’t want to invite outside factors that can affect the delicate pregnancy.

The De Rossi sisters are each other’s best friends. Now that one of them just embarked on a new journey called motherhood, the other one is also the happiest. Alessandra was even present when Assunta gave birth. Prior to the first time she held Baby Fiore, Alessandra already shed happy tears upon seeing the newborn’s photo taken inside the delivery room.

Assunta shared that Alessandra is a loving ‘Tita.’ She loves to bond with Baby Fiore and would even undergo swab testing before each visit.  In return, Alessandra would praise her sister’s selflessness. She said that Assunta, once the princess-like, is now a hands-on mother.

The two are each other’s partners in crime and safe space. They are grateful for the bond they’ve grown over the years. Assunta would vouch for Alessandra’s big-heartedness. While they’re often heard bantering with lots of jokes, Alessandra and Assunta take their sisterhood and friendship seriously.


Anthony and Roselle Taberna

Broadcaster Anthony Taberna and his family are a source of inspiration as they continue to survive, grow, and learn amid trials.

In this episode of I Feel U, the celebrated reporter and his wife, Rossel, become an image of strength as they open up about their family’s current ordeal. Their 12-year-old daughter Zoey is battling leukemia.

Taking us back to the early days of this challenging season, the couple said that they chalked up the warning signs to puberty. They also assumed Zoey was just seeking for their attention. Anthony said the child used to complain about leg pains and concentration problems at school. She was also losing weight but they thought of that as just part of puberty.

There came a point when Zoey couldn’t bear the leg pain, so she was rushed to the hospital.  Anthony added that the child wanted to be checked up. It was a surprise, knowing Zoey is typically scared of trips to the doctor.

Upon diagnosis, the couple blamed themselves, trying to figure the ‘whys.’ The devastating news somewhat triggered the guilt for being too busy with work. “Tumigil ang mundo. Iisipin mo bilang magulang kung ano bang nagawa mo. Masyado ka bang okupado sa trabaho mo kaya napabayaan mo ‘yung anak mo? Lalo na ako as a mother, nagkaroon ng time na sinisi ko ‘yung sarili ko. Dapat alam ko kung ano ‘yung kondisyon ng anak ko,” shared Rossel.

They were also in denial. They didn’t know how to tell Zoey about her condition, so it was kept a secret at first. The couple would act jolly in front of their kids. But behind closed doors, they would go into spiritual warfare. 

Since the confirmation of Zoey’s illness, Anthony and Rossel became more diligent in praying. As parents, of course, they would beg the heavens for their child’s life. Amidst the darkest times, they find the light through their faith.

Looking at the silver linings, the trial made them closer as a family and it watered their faith. They say that every pain has a purpose. But when facing challenges, the human heart is prone to asking questions. After months of fighting, the couple has somewhat figured the answer to their ‘whys.’

Rossel shared, “Ngayon namin na-aappreciate ‘yung pinagdaanan namin. Bilang pamilya, it made us stronger. Pagkatapos nito, ang dami pa naming pagdadaanan na mabibigat. Pero alam mo ‘yung feeling na napagdaanan na namin ‘yung pinakamabigat kaya sisiw na lang ‘yung iba diyan.”

The couple also draws inspiration from none other than Zoey, whose strength as a young girl is truly admirable. “Siya ‘yung malakas, siya ‘yung matapang. Nakakahiya naman kung bilang magulang sa amin pa makikita ‘yung kahinaan, eh ‘yung anak mismo namin is a fighter,” said Rossel.

Anthony added his realization that trials bring people closer to God. He said humans tend to neglect their faith when things are going well. “Noong nangyari itong kay Zoey, parang pinaalala sa amin ng Panginoong Diyos na ‘Hali kayo, lalo kayong lumapit sa Akin.’ Ayaw niyang lumayo ka sa Kanya, so ‘yung problema at pagsubok na pinagdaanan namin, ginamit niyang paraan para lalo kaming lumapit sa kanya.”

Prayer is now a bigger part of their daily life. They would thank the Lord even for the bad times, knowing that trials will one day serve its purpose.


Feel Pop

Himig 11th Edition is nearing its grand finals happening on March 21. This year’s entries are a mix of songs about love, survival, mental health, and more facets of human life. In this episode of “I Feel U,” interpreters JMKO and Jeremy Glinoga share more about their entries.

Jeremy sings a duet with Kyle Echarri. Their piece titled “Ms. Sungit” is written by John Francis and Jason Franz Pasicolan. It offers a fresh and fun sound coupled with ‘kilig’ lyrics. Jeremy loves its chill and smooth storytelling.

“It’s a very chill song but it tells something we all go through. Kahit gaano kasungit ‘yung tao sa’yo o how short-tempered they are, you still love them at gagawin mo pa rin ang lahat para sa tao na ‘yan. Kahit masungit ka, mahal kita,” said Jeremy.

Jeremy is grateful for being chosen as an interpreter for this year’s festival. It’s a dream come true for him.

JMKO’s “Tabi-Tabi Po” composed by Mariah Moriones combines old folklore and modern dating. We are all familiar with reciting “tabi-tabi po” when entering a new unfamiliar place with caution. This song tells us that the heart is also a fragile, scary territory that calls for a “tabi-tabi po.” Sharing his favorite line from this song, JMKO went for “Tabi-tabi po, may masasaktan ba? Pagbilang kong tatlo, hahanapin kita.”

This entry is a potential anthem for romantics who wish to take it slow in a new relationship. Because in this fast-paced world we’re in, it still pays to be patient with love. The music video features a group of friends trekking in a forest.

Talking about patience, JMKO proves that life works on its own timeline. He joined this years’ Himig Handog as a composer but his piece didn’t make the cut, only to find out he’s going to be an interpreter instead.

While pressure is a typical part of any contest, Jeremy and JMKO are just trying to enjoy the experience. Winning is beyond their control but they know they can always give their best.

Watch your favorite entry’s music video on Star Music’s official YouTube Channel.