How mom Maricel keeps Donny Pangilinan grounded; Why PJ Abellana mum about Tom-Carla divorce | Inquirer Entertainment

How mom Maricel keeps Donny Pangilinan grounded; Why PJ Abellana mum about Tom-Carla divorce

/ 12:00 AM June 25, 2022

Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan (center) with sons Donny (right) and Benj.

Show biz is livelier the second time around for Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan. After taking a hiatus, the hot mama is back on the scene, thankful that her grown-up kids, especially Donny, prodded her to give acting another shot.

Although Maricel is proud of Donny’s newfound fame, she’s out to show that there’s more to her than being the mom of a show biz hearthrob. Maricel topbills “Apoy sa Langit” (ASL), along with Zoren Legaspi, which airs weekdays on GMA’s afternoon prime and is directed by Laurice Guillen.


The intriguing series is about a second chance at love that turns out to be a case of two-timing. Heart and hurt almost rhyme. It figures.

Here’s my chat with Maricel:


Since the character you portray deals with a mistress, what’s your advice to women who find out that their husbands are cheating on them?

Normally, I would have the liberty to give advice on something I am familiar with. But in a scenario where there is cheating and in any realization of a traumatic fact, I would recommend stepping back and grieving.

Wives, especially mothers, are always on the default of wanting to fix things as we have been wired to make things work at home. Well, that is me speaking from experience of immediately wanting to fix issues or entanglements at home.

But I am realizing more and more that stepping back, grieving through the process, then allowing the air to settle gives more opportunity to think things through using wisdom more than emotion to reign.

Perhaps another question that needs to be asked is what to do with the husband after he is found out? I guess that would depend on how he was found out … yikes!

What have you learned from Direk Laurice?

When I was 18, I attended an acting workshop facilitated by Direk Laurice. She taught us that talent is not enough and that there is a science that can work together with talent. And if there is not much talent there, to begin with, it can be enhanced by the science of acting.


For ASL, I was definitely stretched by Direk Laurice in many wonderful ways. Some of my key learnings from her are: Do your homework. She doesn’t want us holding our scripts or our phones during blocking.

Energy! Our TV series airs in the afternoon, so we need to perk up our audience.

Do not genuflect before saying your lines. Just say the lines and see where it takes you.

Think 30, not 60!

Being under her guidance is like earning a masterclass in acting and in life. She exudes the confidence of having accomplished so much that she passionately gives and makes sure you get something out of every moment with her. The vibe I get from her is, “Take all you have to learn and fly with it—that’s what I am here for!”

How do you and Anthony keep Donny grounded?

By being grounded ourselves, understanding that we are not the center of the world, and that we live with other imperfect people under the guidance of a perfect God, who is slowly making us straight.

What are three things not too many people know about Donny?

If I tell you, I might get in trouble. But seriously, the world has changed so much that a lot of parents now have access to their children’s private lives without their consent. From the onset of social media, we have made an agreement in our family to respect each other’s privacy.

We ask permission first if we will post someone’s photo or divulge information about each other. I learned this lesson the hard way when my kids set up one of my social media accounts. I didn’t know what it was back then, and I thought it was a safe place to share cute stuff about life.

Then, I shared about one of my kids having her first pimple, and I really got scolded by one of my daughters because I had embarrassed her. Since then, I have been mindful of what I share with others about my kids, knowing there are some sensitivities I must respect.

LEFT: Rey “PJ” Abellana | RIGHT: Tom Rodriguez and Carla Abellana

PJ on the Tom-Carla hullabaloo

I asked Rey “PJ” Abellana his sentiments about the divorce of his daughter Carla and Tom Rodriguez. His reply goes: “This time, I would not like to talk anymore about Carla and Tom. Until now, my daughter has not talked to me about the matter yet. So, I’ll leave it all to them.”

I get PJ’s drift. Carla and Tom’s love story is a case of life imitating art. In their hit series “My Husband’s Lover” years ago, the characters they portrayed also ended up parting ways. Hopefully, next time around, Carla’s husband will be her full-time lover as well.

Finding love in the time of COVID

Make way for a brand-new loveteam as our kilig providers and jesters, Herlene Budol aka “Hipon Girl” and Joseph Marco star in “Ang Babae sa Likod ng Face Mask,” a 13-episode rom-com series conceptualized with Puregold (PG), produced by award-winning filmmaker Chris Cahilig, and directed by Victor Villanueva.

Stream it for free on PG’s YouTube Channel at 6 p.m. every Saturday. It tells the story of Malta (Herlene) and Sieg (Joseph) who find love in the time of COVID. It is the latest of PG’s online series that takes inspiration from classic Filipino TV of the past. So it will spark nostalgia, as well as give us vicarious thrills.

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