Living in two worldsBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Actress Angelu de Leon is the first to admit that her home is divided into two distinct parts.
“The house reflects my journey,” she conceded. “While the old part is cluttered, the new section is minimalist.”
Half of the sprawling structure—which hews closely to the original design when her family moved in, in 1986—is her mom Flora’s turf.
The newly renovated half, sleek and streamlined, is where the actress lives with her husband Wowie Rivera and three children: Nicole, 13; Louise, 10; and Rafa, six months.
Angelu practically grew up in this house, which stands on a 1,500-sq m lot in the heart of Quezon City. They temporarily moved out when her father Luis died when she was 12.
In her teenage years, Angelu, her mom and siblings lived in Antipolo. When she turned 18, they moved back to this house.
“I had Nicole when I was 19; Louise, when I was 21,” the actress recalled.
Her two daughters have spent all their lives here. Needless to say, the home is bursting at the seams with memories.
During the Living Stars visit, Flor kept apologizing because her part of the house was in a state of chaos, overflowing as it does with souvenirs of her daughter’s two-decade career in show biz.
Movie posters and industry awards are strewn all over, along with antique vases and aromatherapy candles—Flor’s collection.
“These souvenirs are my mom’s pride and joy,” Angelu said. “I wouldn’t have achieved all that I did without her help.”
Framed posters of Angelu’s old movies as a teen star were gifts from her handler, Angelito Alcala Estrada.
The movie posters are displayed near an opium bed embellished with angel figures. Quite obviously, Angelu’s mom loves collecting those as well.
Flor is in charge of the two households’ upkeep. “My mom is our official foreman. Once, my husband rushed to our bedroom to tell me that my mom had climbed up the roof.”
Flor enjoys sprucing up the place, said Angelu. “She wakes up at 6 a.m. She cleans the house. She checks what needs to be repaired. She’s not a typical mom. Sometimes I find her under the car.”
Angelu would often encourage her mother to go malling instead. But Flor would simply shrug off the suggestion: “What would I do in a mall? There are so many things that need to be fixed in the house.”
Years ago, Flor was too occupied with Angelu’s booming show biz career to indulge her passion for home improvements.
“My mom would drive me to my shoots and tapings. She accompanied me everywhere,” Angelu recalled. “Instead of doing things that she wanted, she spent all her time with me.”
Flor now keeps herself busy with ongoing (and never-ending) renovations.
Angelu reported that they began renovating the house sometime in 2003.
“Last year, we began redecorating our part of the house again. We want to expand the dining and kitchen areas,” she said of her latest project.
Flor has her own description of the couple’s side of the house: “It looks like a condo unit.”
The actress, currently seen on the GMA 7 afternoon soap opera “Hindi Ka Na Mag-Iisa,” pointed out that their home is “a work in progress.”
She hasn’t decided on a particular design aesthetic, she said. “We just choose the décor as we go along. As much as possible, my husband and I make all the decisions together.”
Wowie, a businessman, is a “frustrated architect,” said Angelu. “He’s quite good at that.”
The sofas were his idea. “It’s difficult to find the perfect sofa for our living room, so we reupholstered old ones,” Wowie said.
Flor helped the couple furnish the place, of course.
She recounted how she got a great deal on the narra pieces. “I found them in a roadside store in Infanta, Quezon, one Easter Sunday. I got several pieces: two tables, three dining sets and an altar.”
She stumbled upon the wooden TV stand in Greenhills.
Lots of wooden figures are displayed in the living room. “Gifts from friends,” Angelu explained.
Wood imbues the place with a warm, earthy feeling. “We like browns and neutral shades,” Angelu said. “But we also wanted bursts of colors here and there.”
A wall in the living room has been painted a stunning shade of red. The master bedroom features a green wall.
The couple hung brightly hued paintings, two of which are by their pastor, Rodel Buban.
The centerpiece in the living room is a huge artwork by Ivan Acuña. A nude painting by Anita Magsaysay-Ho is displayed near the dining area.
A blue Buban painting is showcased in the kitchen, too. Artist Bien Benitez gave them the aqua painting in the dining room.
The dining table is from Our Home, Wowie noted.
A favorite nook for the couple is the kitchen.
“I sometimes cook, but I need a book of recipes by my side,” Angelu admitted. “That’s why I asked my daughters to take cooking classes.”
In any case, she can whip up pasta dishes. “When I got pregnant with Rafa, I experimented with steak, adobo and corned-beef recipes.”
All the activity in the dining area seems to revolve around a new acquisition: The Nespresso machine. “I love coffee,” Angelu said.
She is particularly proud of coffee mugs with her kids’ snapshots from the free photo-sharing application software Instagram. The children’s photographs are displayed in the dining area, as well.
Clearly, these kids are her world.
Although the girls have their own room, they prefer to crash in the master bedroom on weekends.
“It’s like going camping inside the house,” Angelu related. “Wowie’s son Renzo stays with us on weekends, too. We all hang out in our room … Labo-labo kami.”
The home—which she described as “serene, soothing”—is her sanctuary after every hard day’s work on the set of “Hindi Ka Na Mag-Iisa.”
Just the same, she can’t help fussing.
“When I’m home, I take care of Rafa. I wait for my daughters. I watch TV. I do Facebook. I finish whatever paperwork is there.”
The couple set up a networking business in another part of the house.
“I’m the corporate secretary of the company (Upworld Marketing). That’s my other side,” she quipped. “I have fun because the business also involves dealing with many types of individuals.”
And how does she divide her time between work and home?
“With proper scheduling and time management,” she replied swiftly.
She makes sure to have regular dinners with the entire family. “My husband and I have ‘alone’ dates as well.”
Sometimes they go on short trips. “Even before we got married, he was my travel buddy,” she said.
They started off as “badminton friends,” she recalled. “We met sometime in 2006. We were part of a big group of friends.”
He came at a time in her life when she was already content being a single mom.
Their friendship soon deepened and they found themselves defying previous expectations.
While on a trip abroad, she realized that this was the real deal.
“When you’re away from your comfort zone, you get to learn more about your partner,” she said. “That’s because you rely on each other, since you have no one else.”
Curiously enough, they are self-confessed opposites, who hit it off beautifully.
“We’re still different people,” Angelu said. “But we enjoy doing a lot of things together. We love sports. We love to chat. We love shopping together. Seldom do you find a man who doesn’t mind accompanying his wife to the mall. He’s very patient that way.”
Tying the knot
On Sept. 17, 2010, they tied the knot in a Christian ceremony witnessed by 30 of their closest family members and friends.
Pictures of their wedding day displayed in the living room show the couple at their most blissful—beaming and buoyant.
Perhaps that was the secret, Angelu said. “When I met him, I felt I was complete. In the past, I had tried to blend, but lost myself in the other person. I tried to change myself too much. Maybe that’s why I had a hard time.”
Faith was a crucial factor in their coming together. They are both members of the church River of God.
“I have my quiet time in the morning, when I wake up,” Angelu said. “I start the day with my daily devotional. I read the Scriptures. I meditate. I pray. That’s what I do to pamper my soul.”
The rat race can get distracting, she admitted. “Modern life is too fast-paced. Technology pushes us to be always on the go. It’s wise to slow down and reflect once in a while.”
Keeping the communication lines open between her and her loved ones is key, she asserted.
“Notice that there’s no television set in the bedroom,” she pointed out. “Oftentimes the TV gets in the way of meaningful conversations with your spouse.”
Angelu confessed to one indulgence, though: “When I want to shut the world out, when I’d rather not think or worry about things … I watch animated shows on TV. My favorite is ‘Adventure Time’ and all the shows on Cartoon Network.”
Her husband understands these intermittent lapses into childhood.
“It’s my way of relaxing,” she said with a smile.
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