Suzi Entrata-Abrera, a working mom and a TV personality at that, knows this only too well. Married for 12 years to host and TV personality Paolo Abrera, raising three lovely daughters: Leona, 9; Jade, 8; and Antonella or Nella, 7, and juggling two TV shows, her life may not be a walk in the park—but it’s something that brings her great joy.
“[She’s] a superwoman,” Paolo says with a laugh. “She’s got a very tight schedule and she [still] finds time for the things that she wants to do for the family. She makes a bit of sacrifice to be with the family despite the tiring schedule.” Paolo’s hardly a slacker himself—he juggles two shows—Mornings @ANC and Green Living, which his small production group line produces, does corporate hosting gigs and engages in various sports.
Coming into their spacious but cozy home, hidden in a quiet subdivision a stone’s throw away from a busy highways, one notices it’s filled with things that are functional and clearly important to the people living in it—a mixture of books and toys, photo albums of trips and things, and so much more. There’s warmth there, the big cocoon-like sofas a reflection of the kind of people at the heart of the home. Suzi is accommodating, and speaks with both authority and an openness that somehow still makes her seem more approachable than most people in her profession. Paolo himself is a quiet presence exuding kindness and friendliness, and the same openness. The kids, playful but disciplined, mirror their parents, under whose guidance they’ve flourished.
Learn from the best
Asked about what kind of mother she thinks she is, Suzi answers, “I think I’m … in a way strict.” Referring to her kids, she notes, “I’m always asking them to wash their hands, pick up after themselves, put their plate in the kitchen, ’yung mga ganyan,” adding with a smile, “Parang I could hear my own mother. And then I would remember my dad … My dad would take us out naman and ’yun ’yung fun things talaga.”
She also shares, “I think I take after my own mother who’s also very hardworking, she ran the business. I get it from my father, of course, but she was the one who’s on top of things mostly. [For my mom, it’s like] a full day at work and when she comes home, siyempre she has to take care of the family as well ... So I think, I’m a lot like her in that sense but she claims that I’m a lot … more touchy … more affectionate with the children.”
Digging deeper into her background, Suzi reveals her mom used to be “stressed most of the time … trying to keep the business afloat.” Apparently, her own mother has pronounced her lucky for her generally stress-free work. “It’s just, you know, if it’s a long day, it’s just tiring. Pero you come home and you’re not worried about anything, you’re fine, you don’t bring any of the stuff home. But my mom had to. So it was very difficult for her. Sabi niya, ‘And you have a wonderful husband.’ So parang a lot of the stress is limited to really just managing the house and children and the noise and kalat. But other than that, [I’m] pretty okay.
“So I think as a mom, I try to balance things. People might think na parang [I’m] always the one who’s making patawa and whatever. ‘She’s probably the fun parent and Paolo is the strict parent.’ But it’s actually the other way around. … When Paolo plays with them he really plays with them. … When I play with them, I’m actually doing something else … I’m cleaning the drawers out and I’m sweeping the floor,” she laughs. Admitting to “taking cues” from her husband, she now notes, “If its playtime, just put the phone on silent. Just have fun.”
Suzy has also been lucky that her shows on TV provide her a wealth of knowledge that prove useful to her own life and to running their home.
“A lot of the stuff that I learned sa Mars are recipes so I get to bring it home here. They’re usually easy recipes, few ingredients lang. And whenever we get our artistas to share their recipes with us, they’ll usually share their best ones—’yung pambato nila. So you know it’s always yummy,” she relates.
“Sa Unang Hirit, kasi we get a lot of information mostly in the morning, [but they’re] maybe not the type of information [I can use]. But sometimes, kunyari we’ll [do] something that’s geared towards children, I can share with them. But on a regular basis, [we get] more news-based [information] so I share that with Pao because his show will probably not carry some of the items [we do] and vice-versa. So it’s a nice conversation at the end of the day also.”
Building energy reserves
Having three kids at home is a lot of work. “That’s why we’ve lost all this weight,” Paolo laughs when we bring it up. “Girls pa lang ‘yan ha, hindi pa ‘yan boys!” Paolo’s still into biking and even joins triathlons like the Xterra, but these days even Suzi’s looking a lot leaner than she used to.
“I just try to eat small frequent meals and then I do barre3, which a combination of Pilates, yoga and ballet,” she notes of her fitness regimen. “I try to do that at least three times a week, although usually I get to go twice. And then in between, parang if I have time or energy for it, we have a spinner bike, which [I do] for about half an hour, or maybe I run round the village for about half an hour din. But generally, it’s really a good combination of eating well and eating right and exercising.”
Asked if she meant to lose the weight, she responds, “Actually no, not really. I thought it was fine. I thought my body was okay. I used to do [the show called] Full Time Moms and when they cancelled it, I had a lot of time on my hands so I started doing barre3 with my sister. … Kasi it’s perfect; after Unang Hirit then I’ll go barre3 from 10:30 to 11:30 and then that’s it. I’m done na… may workout na ’ko for the day. But because my body wasn’t used to that kind of workout, kasi usually cardio ako; ito … like weight training, I guess, except it’s body weight. So ’yon, parang hindi yata sanay ’yong body ko, [so] pumayat agad for it.”
With the toned body, though, comes the energy to do things. While most people grow older and tend to gain weight, possibly due to a decrease in metabolism, the Abrera couple seems to defy what nature has imposed on others. Paolo laughs even as he notes age must have been the factor that they are both losing weight—apart from keeping up with the kids.
It’s important to note that Suzi and Paolo met while working on the show Game Plan, and they’re pretty much like two peas in a pod—both active and fitness-oriented, proving that sometimes, really finding the right partner in life helps.
Although Suzi’s busy schedule sometimes means that she occasionally only catches her girls “before the kids go to sleep at 9:00,” both she and Paolo are careful to spend quality time with them and instill discipline.
As a tip, she points out, “It’s really important that the parents also, as much as they can, try to share meals with their kids kasi they can see [what their parents eat]… like, Leona eats a lot pero she’s not ma-gulay so we have to watch her and keep reminding her to eat the veggies. And then, Nella’s okay and Jade is okay because their yayas make sure that they have bits of gulay in their rice, which they always managed to take out before.”
“Nella’s proud of the fact that she’s the one who probably eats the most number parang different kinds of fruits or vegetables,” Suzi notes with a hint of pride. Having read somewhere that “it’s not vegetables, it’s fruits,” Suzi tries to give them three or four servings a day.
Aside from leading by example, Suzi says it’s important for them as parents to explain things to their kids as well, and engage them in other ways that would interest them to try things out. “We also used to have a game just to get them to try out new and healthy food … If you try five new foods that are healthy, you get a prize, parang ganun … which encourages them to try new things.”