RAZZLE-DAZA Pat-P Daza – The Philippine Star

February 28, 2022 | 12:00am

Janice de Belen became a household name in 1979 when she was 11 years old as the star of Flordeluna. She played Flor, the title character, in the top-rating soap opera that aired on RPN-9 until 1984. She also conquered the big screen and became the reel and real love of Gabby Concepcion.

In 1986, when she was 18 years old and at the peak of her TV and movie popularity, Janice got pregnant and gave birth in 1987 to Luigi, her love child with Aga Muhlach. In 1992, she married John Estrada with whom she has four children: Inah, Moira, Kylah and Yuan. They separated in 2001 and their marriage was annulled by 2004.

Over tea and a wonderful spread of fresh fruits and desserts at the commissary of Tin Ariola, owner of Bait Lehem, I talked to Janice last week about the many hats she wears as a single mom, a daughter, and actress.

On her relationship status: “I am an alpha female.” That’s Janice’s reply when asked if she’s currently in a relationship. She claims that she will find it very difficult to be in a relationship again as she has learned to enjoy her financial and emotional independence.

“I love that I can do whatever I please and go wherever I want without asking permission,” she said. “I’ve been in a relationship before where my boyfriend didn’t like short hair so I had to keep my hair long. These days, I prefer my hair short; it’s easy to manage, just wash and wear.”

Although she confesses to doing unbelievable and crazy things in the name of love, these days she cannot even imagine sharing her bed and bathroom with anyone.

On being a mother: “It never stops. My eldest, Luigi, is 36 years old, but I still worry about him. He lives in Tagaytay City and whenever there is a threat of a volcanic interruption, I call and make sure he’s okay. After all, he has four kids, and they are my apos,” shared Janice.

“My four other kids still stay with me. The funny thing is that I realize I am beginning to sound like my mom. I constantly have to remind my kids to turn off the lights when they go out of their rooms, fix their beds, put away their things, etc.”

On being a daughter: “When my mom died in 2016, I asked my dad to move in with me,” she recalled. “He asked me to give him a year to sort things out. By 2018, my dad had moved in with me. Growing up, it was my mom, who accompanied me most of the time and of course, my dad was working then. These days, I am enjoying my newfound relationship with him and our bonding moments.”

On being an actress: Janice has just finished a teleserye, starring Ronnie Alonte and Loisa Andalio for Dreamscape titled Love in 40 Days. She doesn’t mind being locked in a taping bubble as long as she has her hobbies with her, namely, cross stitching and painting. Google chrome also allows her to watch all the series and movies she wants, while waiting to be called on the set. She enjoys the camaraderie that is formed with the cast and crew but admits that by the third week, she’s already looking for her own bed and is anxious to go home.

But she is thankful that she continues to work. She even won the Best Actress award at the recent Manhattan International Autumn Festival for her work in Sugat sa Dugo. A dark story about life, love and death. The film stars Janice as the mother of three kids whom she habitually neglects whenever she has a new man in her life.

During her latest affair, the kids are again left to fend for themselves and end up selling their bodies to survive. The middle child — a boy — eventually dies from AIDS.

“The movie is an advocacy film about AIDS,” revealed Janice. The film was produced by Dragon Entertainment Production and directed by Danni Ugali.

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