MANILA, Philippines – Before actor John Estrada and actress Janice de Belen became parents of four, Estrada said he was just a mere fan of the former child actress, who was popular then for her role as Maria Flordeluna.
|John Estrada. File photo
"I was a fan of Janice. Fan ako ng 'Flordeluna' eh. I grew up watching Flordeluna. Ang una kong nagustuhan ko sa kanya 'yung naging Flordeluna siya.
"Una, star-struck talaga ako, 'Wow, Janice de Belen.' Of course she has a beautiful face, magaling umarte," Estrada said in an interview on "Showbiz Inside Report."
It was only when they got to work together in the popular 80's sitcom "Palibhasa Lalake," where she became a guest star, that Estrada and de Belen started to become close friends.
Their close friendship would eventually lead to them becoming a couple, Estrada recounted.
"Si Janice, na-meet ko si siya sa set ng 'Palibhasa.' Nu’ng naging close friend ko na siya, doon ko nalaman na mabait na tao.
"It took a while for us to be friends. Kung panliligaw, 'di ko alam. Siguro doon sa constant na pagsasama namin tsaka frequent, doon na na-develop," Estrada said.
Their young romance would eventually bear a child -- their first, which prompted their marriage.
Rift with Moira
While he refused to detail the cause of his separation from his former wife, Estrada admitted having a rocky relationship with one of his children over the much-publicized parting in 2001.
Following his separation with de Belen over his alleged affair with a former co-host, Estrada said their second daughter, Moira, had expressed her anger towards him for supposedly causing the break-up.
At the time, Estrada recounted, he urged his daughter to, at least, respect him as her father despite her ill-feelings toward him.
"Nu’ng panahon na 'yon, nu’ng bago palang [kaming hiwalay], si Moira, 'yung pangalawang babae ko, nakita ko medyo may galit sakin. Siya lang 'yung medyo sumasagot sa'kin noon.
"One time talaga na nangyari 'yun, talagang natapik ko. Sabi ko, 'Huwag mo gawin sa'kin 'yan. Whatever happened, I'm still your father and you only have one," Estrada said.
“Naiintindihan ko ngayon kung nagtatampo kayo sa'kin,'" Estrada recounted as saying to Moira. "Baka nawala 'yung gusto niyo sa tatay niyo, pero isa lang ang hindi pwede mawala -- ang respeto, dahil ako lang tatay niyo."
Married life anew
Four children and years of married life later, Estrada has now moved on to become a parent anew -- this time with beauty queen titlist Priscilla Meirelles.
Their four-month-old daughter Anechka has become a subject of her first four children's affections, Estrada happily shared.
"Ang sarap na ang mga anak ko kay Janice kasama ang anak ko kay Priscilla, kasi my kids, they love babies, eh sa may kapatid pa kaya nila," Estrada said.
Meanwhile, Estrada is set to take on a new role close to real life in upcoming series "Lorenzo's Time." He will play the father of the titular character portrayed by young actor Zaijan Jaranilla.
"Lorenzo's Time" will premiere on July 2 during ABS-CBN's Primetime Bida block.