Ian Veneracion extols joys of fatherhood
“Marriage is not for everyone,” Ian Veneracion said when he chatted with the Inquirer after he was launched as the newest endorser of Ginebra San Miguel’s liquor brand Primera Light Brandy last June 10. The bold declaration was surprising, especially because the 41-year-old actor is married and has three kids.
In fact, Ian tied the knot at the relatively young age of 22, and has been happily married to his wife Pam since—for 19 years.
“If you like kids and have a nurturing nature, you know you’re father material. If not, perhaps it’d be wise for you to do something else,” he explained. “You have to brace yourself for parenthood, because it entails a lot of responsibilities. Initially, it wasn’t easy being a dad, because I was young when I had my first son (who’s now 17). There’s no crash course on fatherhood—you learn as you go along, and you grow up with your kids.
“But it got a lot easier with my daughter, who’s 15, and my 9-year-old son, because I already knew what to expect. There are different versions of me—I’m a pilot, a painter, an actor, a husband, etc.
“But the role I’m most proud of is that of being a dad. Fatherhood has allowed me to teach my kids what my dad (visual artist Roy Veneracion) has taught me: Explore your options.”
Ian began exploring his “options” at age 5, when he was spotted by actor-director Leo Rialp, who cleverly cast him in a Christmas show—as the Santo Niño. “Director Al Quinn was in the audience. A few months later, they asked me to play Joey de Leon’s kid in ‘Joey & Son.’ Thereafter, I was cast in ‘Never Ever Say Goodbye,’ starring Vilma Santos and Nonoy Zuñiga—and the rest is history.”
What does he recall about those early years as a child actor? “They told each other green jokes and thought I was too young to understand them. I’d say to myself, ‘Akala n’yo lang (laughs)!’”
How did he avoid becoming problematic as he was growing in the industry? “My dad instilled in me the importance of integrity and a good reputation. Kaya I was never seen crawling at a parking lot because I was high on drugs or was too drunk. I wasn’t involved in bar brawls. For a time, I didn’t think a good reputation would make a difference, but now it’s paying off.”
Is he saying he doesn’t have a dark side? “I am not pure ‘light,’ you know (laughs). May sumpong din ako (I also have tantrums)—I’m like a cranky 5-year-old when I don’t get enough sleep. I’m not the type who goes home from taping, takes a shower, then heads back to work again. I’m not willing to sacrifice my health. If you find me in such a situation, somebody must have messed up.”
If Ian were asked to choose who his next leading lady would be, which actress would top his list, other than perennial screen partner Jodi Sta. Maria? “Bea Alonzo—I’m a fan of her work,” he answered.
After the raves that his tandem with Jodi got for their otherwise underwhelming romantic comedy, “All You Need is Pag-ibig,” the actor will reunite with the actress in Antoinette Jadaone’s “The Achy Breaky Hearts,” a rom-com that also features Jodi’s other popular partner, Richard Yap. “This time, she will have to choose between the Chinoy and the Tisoy,” Ian related.
We asked what Ian’s reaction was about his “second coming” as a matinee idol, courtesy of his partnership with Jodi in “Pangako sa ’Yo.” He laughed, “It’s also a puzzle to me. My kids tease me that I’m pa-cute daw (laughs). But it’s probably chemistry more than formula. We’re very comfortable with each other—and it shows.
“You should see us behind the camera. We’re 10 times more makulit. We talk about anything—from the simplest and most mundane issues to topics as complex as Eastern philosophy and Christianity. We always disagree, but we respect each other’s opinion.”