MANILA — In an emotional heart-to-heart, music newcomer Leila Alcasid recalled a “defining moment” in her relationship with her step-mother, music veteran Regine Velasquez.
Leila is one of singer Ogie Alcasid’s two daughters with his former wife, Australian beauty queen Michelle van Eimeren.
Van Eimeren, who for a time was an actress in the Philippines, is based in Australia with her current husband, Mark Morrow, and her younger daughter with Alcasid, Sarah.
Raised in Australia, Leila, 22, moved to the Philippines in 2017 to pursue a music career here.
She has since lived with her father and Velasquez, along with her younger half-brother Nate..
In the first episode of her “Real Talk” vlog series released on Thursday, Velasquez discussed step-parenting with Leila, leading to the latter’s recollection of the time she realized her step-mother “really cares” about her.
During her first year back in the Philippines, Leila admittedly had a difficult time adjusting. Establishing a social circle translated to partying left and right, she recounted.
“I was making friends. I was meeting people and finding out who I meshed with, who I didn’t. Naturally, you come across situations where there are people you don’t get along with. It was also mixed up with going to parties and breaking my curfew. It got to the point where I just felt so bad and I didn’t want to talk about it,” she narrated.
Without going into details, Leila shared, “I went from going out a lot to staying home all the time because I felt so bad about going through this party phase.”
She, however, opted to keep to herself, and not bring up her predicament with her parents.
“I’m someone who tends to be pretty hard on myself. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I didn’t want to talk to dad about it, I was avoiding talking to you (Velasquez) about it,” she said.
Velasquez, at that point, started to notice her step-daughter being more quiet than usual.
Leila narrated that while she was seated inside Velasquez’s bedroom, her step-mother approached her and said: “I don’t know if I’m crossing a line by saying this but I’m going to say it because I care… I want to tell you what I have observed, and what I think you’re going through…”
“And then she started crying,” Leila said, referring to Velasquez. “She basically said something along the lines of: I wasn’t really loving myself enough... At the time, I wasn’t. I was going through this phase where I just didn’t appreciate myself, and so I would put myself in these situations where I was looking for validation from other people. She said that to me.”
“I’d never had anyone say it to me. Because she was also crying, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she really cares about me!’ And that was a defining moment for me, because I have never forgotten that. It was one of the times when you really felt like a mom, and I realized we had built a very special relationship,” she added.
Earlier in the vlog, Velasquez mentioned a phone conversation she had with van Eimeren when Leila had just moved to the Philippines.
Van Eimeren’s request that she look after Leila, she said, kept ringing in her head during the days when her step-daughter appeared to be in low spirits.
“It felt wrong if I just kept quiet. I felt like I needed to tell you,” Velasquez told Leila now, referring to that “defining moment” they had.
Pointing out that she gets alarmed even by mosquito bites on her children, Velasquez went on: “That’s how much we love you. This is how important you are to us. And then you go out, and parang feeling ko, you don’t know your worth as a woman and as a person. It was hurting me seeing that.”
“Siyempre, ang tingin ko sa ‘yo anak ko. You are already my daughter. Nahe-hurt ako na you’re doing these things, and I’m like, parang you’re not giving importance to yourself,” Velasquez added.
The two agreed that Leila has since changed noticeably since that episode.
“I’ve witnessed the impact that that conversation had on me as well, because ever since then, I really focused a lot on respecting myself,” Leila said.
“Even in that time I was still me, but I was prioritizing different things. I wasn’t prioritizing my well-being. That talk was the one thing I needed at that exact time as well. I’ve always been really grateful for that,” she said.