A stepdad’s ‘ultimate’ sacrifice
“He raised my son Paolo as his own. That, to me, is the ultimate act of self-sacrifice,” said actress Sherilyn Reyes of her husband, former basketball player Chris Tan.
Paolo, 14, is Sherilyn’s son with former film producer/director Pablo “Junjun” Santiago Jr. She now has two kids with Chris—Lorenz, 11, and Eia, 2.
After living together for 11 years, the couple finally had their previous marriages annulled. They tied the knot in December 2012—with both their sons as best men and their daughter as maid of honor.
Sherilyn described Paolo’s relationship with Chris as “very inspiring.” She told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Once, Paolo told Chris, ‘Dad, I may not have your DNA but I’m so much like you.’”
Paolo consults Chris before making important decisions. Sherilyn said, “He explains it to me this way: ‘Mom, you and I think alike so I need dad to tell me things that neither of us sees.’”
She continued: “Paoie (Paolo’s nickname) had his dance recital recently. Chris made sure to fly home from a business trip in Bangkok to watch it. Paoie said that, unlike me, his dad was able to critique him. What Chris thought of his performance was valuable to him.”
For Sherilyn, the greatest gift Chris had given her was “the life we now have.” She explained: “We started with nothing. We both had to contend with our respective annulment cases. It came to a point na nagbenta kami ng kaing-kaing na mangga,” said the cast member of “Kambal ni Eliana” on GMA 7.
Both Sherilyn and Chris felt they had to work extra hard to prove they made the right decision. “Our mantra back then was ‘you and me against the world.’ I remember telling my parents, who didn’t approve of our relationship, to first allow us to resolve our problems, to just let us be. So that if we fail in the end, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
She recalled the time when she got pregnant with Lorenz and chose to hide this from the public “because my annulment case was ongoing.”
“Most of my friends thought I was in the United States, but I was just here at home. I didn’t go out for months,” said Sherilyn.
She said life was so simple for her back then, but she was happy. “My maternity clothes were worth only P200 and were bought from stalls in Greenhills. We didn’t have enough money to eat in fancy restaurants, but we didn’t mind,” the actress recalled.
She continued: “Throughout the whole experience, we never missed Holy Mass, even if we just stayed inside our car. Chris would take communion and then go back to the car to share the Holy Bread with me. I kept telling God, ‘Everyone can judge me but it’s only You who know how I really feel.’ It’s not as if I’m not sorry for what I did, I simply didn’t want to stay in a relationship that I was no longer happy with.”
The 38-year-old actress said she fought hard for the former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) star, so that when he got down on his knees and asked her to marry him, she tearfully accepted.
“To Chris, the wedding was nothing but a culminating activity. He has introduced me as his wife from day one, anyway,” she pointed out. “But to me, it was a dream come true.”
Sherilyn said the family was definitely set to celebrate Father’s Day today. “The kids and I have planned a really big surprise. They even prepared costumes. I hope it will make Chris smile.”