MANILA – From foundling to showbiz royalty daughter and now senatorial candidate, Team PNoy bet Grace Poe-Llamanzares on Wednesday opened up about how she was abandoned by her biological parents and how she was adopted by celebrity couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
Speaking to ANC’s Headstart, Grace revealed that she was abandoned as a baby at a church in Iloilo. She said a couple told the parish priest about the foundling but that no one came forward to claim her despite several announcements in the church and in a local newspaper.
“Nag anunsyo dun sa simbahan na may batang nakita pero dahil wala naman istraktura ng [Department of Social Welfare and Development] nun so kinupkop ako nun. Tapos nag anunsyo na sila sa pahayagan. Sinabi wala naman lumapit so kinupkop ako ng pamilya,” she said.
Grace said the couple approached a wealthy haciendera and asked if she wanted to take care of the baby. The haciendera, who was childless, agreed and often brought the baby Grace to Manila where she was following her idol, actress Susan Roces.
“Ang kanyang kaligayan ay sundan yung mommy ko dahil fan siya so lumuluwas siya from Bacolod to Manila. Dala-dala niya ako palagi. I was a baby,” she said.
Grace said FPJ, who at that time just recently married Roces, took an instant liking to her because he loved kids. Roces then asked Grace’s guardian to stay at their house so that FPJ could see more of Grace.
“He was always taking care of me. So my mom said: ‘Tessie, alam mo pag nasa Maynila ka, dito ka na lang mag-stop sa bahay.’ When they built their house, they had a room for my ninang. At some point, there was a very minor falling out between my ninang and my mom. She said: ‘Tessie. siyempre sa iyo yan.’ And my ninang said: ‘She needs parents.’ She saw how my parents cared for me.’
“And then my mom said: ‘Hindi pwedeng ganyan lang. It has to be formal adoption dahil kawawa naman ang bata.’ My dad was against it. He said: “Bakit pa e dito anak ko na siya e? (pointing to his heart)’ E iba naman yung mom ko. Practical din yun. So ako’y nagpapasalamat.”
Search for her biological parents
Grace admitted that when she grew up, she did wonder about her biological parents who had left her at the church.
Asked if she ever felt resentment after finding out that she was adopted, she said: “Not resentment. It was more of insecurity and these were fed to me. Itong pagiging insecure ay resulta din ng mga nasa paligid mo.”
“Yung nanay at tatay ko naman, ginawa nila ang lahat ng kanilang makakakaya para hindi ko naman maramdaman na menos ako. Kung ano naman ang oportunidad na ibinibigay sa isang biological na anak, binigay naman sa akin yun.”
Grace said she also did her own search for her biological parents by asking the couple who first took her in as well as her ninang. She said that before she was formally adopted, there were several people who claimed to be her parents but were later found out to be lying.
Grace said she feels grateful to her biological parents for choosing to have her although they eventually let her go.
She said she looks up to Poe and Roces as her real parents because they treated her like their real daughter and took her in.
“Hinanap ko naman pero alam mo, Karen, sa puntong ito, siyempre ang aking mga magulang na kinikilala ko yung talagang nagmalasakit at nagpalaki sa akin. Pero patuloy rin ang aking pasasalamat. Kung ano man ang nangyari sa aking biological parents, pinili pa rin nila ang buhay. I am sure hindi naging madali iluwal ang isang bata lalong-lalo na wala kang kakayahan.’
“Siguro may kulang sa buhay nila. Pero ako naman, naging epektibo talaga ang pagpapalaki sa akin ng mga magulang ko sa akin kaya utang na loob ko rin sa kanila kaya hindi maintindihan naman ng mga tao. ‘Masyado ka namang FPJ.’ Sa lahat ng ginagawa ko, gusto ko talagang bigyan ng karangalan ang pangalan niya, ng dangal.”
FPJ’s defeat, her senatorial bid
In the interview, Grace admitted that her father’s defeat in the 2004 presidential election weighed heavily on his mind and may have led to his untimely death in December that year.
She said that instead of opening up about how he felt about being cheated in the election, he simply kept his feelings to himself and trusted that the truth would come out.
“I am sure it affected him. Lahat naman ng pinagdadadaanan na emosyonal ay nagdudulot din ng kahirapan sa pisikal na kabuuan. Ang tatay ko, ayaw niya na bigyan pa kami ng burden o ibig sabihin ng problema. Para sa kanya, hindi OK lang. Naniniwala kasi siya na lalalabas ang katotohanan,” she said.
Rumors of alleged massive cheating in the 2004 presidential election gained traction in 2005 after the release of the so-called “Hello, Garci” wiretapped conversations detailing a massive conspiracy to rig the polls. One of the alleged wiretapped conversations was between a woman who sounded like then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and a poll commissioner.
In the interview, Grace said her father had faith that the truth about his electoral victory would eventually come out.
“He had faith in that but the pressure was mounting, lalong lalo na sa lugar na dinumog ka ng tao, ni isang boto wala kang nakuha dun. Di ba? Insulto naman yun,” she said.
She said that when she decided to join politics as a senatorial candidate, she cast her lot with Team PNoy because President Aquino never interfered with her work in the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
“It is as simple as this. Bilib ako sa Pangulo. Namuno ako sa isang ahensiya na kita ko ang suporta niya, na hindi siya makikialam at hindi niya ilalagay ang barkada o amiga niya,” she said.
Grace said what drives her to excel is her mother’s continued reminder that she does not bring shame to the family name.
“Lahat tayo, may pinapatunayan sa sarili nati. Sa lahat din ng mga adopted na anak, alam ko na gusto niyo rin sabihin ng mga magulang niyo na ‘Naku, mabuti na lang anak nandito ka sa buhay naming.’ Lahat naman tayo kahit nga tunay na anak, biological, gusto natin patunayan sa nanay at tatay mo na OK ka naman. Pero yan ang pinakamalaking hamon sa buhay ko, na mapatunayan ko na ako’y karapat-dapat. Hindi lang sa magulang ko. Para din sa iba dahil maraming nagmamahal sa magulang ko,” she said.