MANILA — Sharon Cuneta could not help but break down in front of her daughter, Frankie Pangilinan, amid a social media storm that has now dragged the names of the music icon's other children.
In a nearly hour-long Instagram live video on Monday, Cuneta opened up about the emotional turmoil in her family in recent weeks, in light of a controversial rape threat targeted at Frankie.
Frankie has been a visible figure in the online campaign against rape culture, originating the hashtag #HijaAko and helping shed light on sexual assault of women across industries, and even in schools.
Frankie's movement stemmed from her viral statements against controversial advice of a police station for women to dress appropriately to avoid rape, and the subsequent remark of broadcaster Ben Tulfo that women risk "inviting the beast" out of men if they dress a certain way.
As #HijaAko gained wide traction, Frankie became the target of mudslinging, aside from the rape threat that's now being investigated by authorities.
Particularly hurtful for Cuneta as a mother were comments maliciously comparing Frankie with her half-sister, actress KC Concepcion.
KC is Cuneta's daughter with her former husband Gabby Concepcion. The singer has three children with her husband Sen. Francis Pangilinan, including Frankie.
Cuneta was in the middle of her Instagram stream when Frankie entered her room. At that instant, Cuneta broke down.
"Ganoon kasama ang tao," she said, referring to the harsh words thrown at Frankie and her siblings. "I'm so sorry, honey. You don't deserve that."
"And in the end, that's not what matters. Physical beauty fades. She's really beautiful, but they shouldn't do that to sisters, they shouldn't do that to children, they shouldn't do that to women. I am your mother. I am KC's mom, I'm your mom, I'm Yellie's mom. How dare they. I love you all equally."
Addressing her family's critics, a weeping Cuneta went on: "Please don't do that to my children. Ako na lang pintasan niyo. How dare you. Pag-aawayin niyo 'yung magkapatid. Ako po ang nagsilang sa mga 'yan. Hindi po ganoon ang pagpapalaki ko sa mga anak ko."
Throughout the video, Frankie was not in view, although she could be heard speaking with Cuneta.
"You're very pretty, honey," Cuneta reassured her daughter. "Each of you has your own kind of beauty. It's like a stab in my heart, because you both came from here, the three of you."
Miguel, Cuneta's youngest with Pangilinan, is adopted.
As Cuneta struggled to control her emotions, she told her viewers that it has been the headstrong Frankie, in fact, who has been her source of strength.
"See how hard it is for me? See, my daughter is the one comforting me pa? Why are you so bad? Why do you do this to my children? Why?" she said.
"When I see Frankie's face, I just break down."
The last few weeks have been difficult for her entire family, Cuneta shared, so much so that the situation has taken a physical toll on her.
"I didn't want to say this, but it's affected us mentally, emotionally. I got sick, because when it's emotional and mental, it will come out in the physical. I got sick. Kaya hindi ako tumataba dahil wala akong gana. Dalawang gabi, 'yung dinner ko, dinuwal ko dahil sa stress," she explained.
Amid uncertainties as well as the trying episode involving Frankie, Cuneta said her family has held on to their faith to tide them through.
"I trusted God, and even when it's hard to, I know He's always with us and will never leave us or forsake us. I have such faith in Him, that's true," she said.
Before ending her live video, Cuneta recalled encouraging words from her parents, which to her still ring true today.
"You know what my mom and dad used to tell me? 'Hayaan mo sila, anak. Tandaan mo 'to: maghintay ka lang. Mapalad ang inaapi.' Tandaan niyo 'yan, lalo pag wala kayong ginagawang masama," she said.