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Single mom Bettina Carlos on raising a valedictorian

Single mom, entrepreneur and TV host Bettina Carlos. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — In light of the recent Sen. Tito Sotto issue in which the solon was hit for “joking” about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo being a single mom, actress and TV host Bettina Carlos talks to Philstar.com to empower single parents like her.

According to the host of TV show “Idol sa Kusina,” she was lucky to have not experienced discrimination as a single mom.

“I, as other modern single parents now, we are privileged to live in a time when it’s not discriminatory anymore. ‘Di s’ya kapulaan. It doesn’t make you less of a mother just because of that ‘accident.’ We live in an age when women are so empowered and that already includes mothers, single mothers,” she said during the recent launch of Nestle Cereals’ Whole Grain campaign.

Bettina was 22 and was just starting a career as an actress together with one of her showbiz best friends, Marian Rivera, when she learned that she was expecting.

“Although it was unexpected, it was never unwanted. I prayed to the Lord if it’s really for me. Although at that time, I don’t have yet an intimate relationship with God, but I already had that inkling in me that I know if things are meant to be, they will be…I prayed that, ‘Lord, if this is your plan for me, I will accept it.’ I was very young at that time. I got pregnant at 22. But, I accepted it sincerely.”

She admitted that the pregnancy affected her career.

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“Actually, it depends on how you look at it. Others would perceive it as, ‘Ah, nawalan ng career.’ It depends kasi on what you want to be in this business,” she explained.

Instead being a setback, her pregnancy actually became an asset.

“I never naman aimed to be a superstar, leading role, ganyan. So, it wasn’t very negative. In fact, more doors opened when I became a mother. I had more opportunities to focus on what I want to do, because I really want to focus more on hosting.”

Motherhood did not only change her career path; it changed everything.

“It changed my priorities, it changed the dynamics of my life. It all changed for the better. I’d like to say that it transformed my life. It matured me. And I feel that I realized my purpose as a person when I became a mother.”

After accepting her new role outside showbiz, she faced another problem: how to explain the situation to her daughter.

“The struggle for the longest time is having two roles and just having one physical body,” she confessed.

“At age three, she (Bettina’s daughter) started asking, ‘How do we make babies?’ At age four, I would explain. I won’t fantasize it, make fairytales out of it. I’ve been really direct about it: ‘This is how babies were made. There’s what we call, ‘sexual intercourse.’ It’s only done between partners.’ At age four, she was asking me, ‘Who’s your partner making me?’ And I wasn’t ready to answer it, so I said, ‘You know, anak, there are things I will answer when you are old enough. (She asked,) ‘Like when I’m five?’ Then I said, ‘No, when you’re 10…or maybe 18.’ She respects it and she understands that there are some things I have to withhold for a while.”

To make ends meet, Bettina had to look for another livelihood. Thus, her motherhood made her stumble upon another passion, baking.

“It’s doing great!” she said of her baking business. “It has been six or seven years since the Lord has answered that prayer… kasi it came at a time when I didn’t have network assignments yet. So, I prayed to the Lord to give me something that would make me earn, make ends meet because I’m doing this (parenthood) single-handedly, and the Lord blessed me with a business that is inclined with my passion.”

Similarly, she encouraged other moms to try baking.

“It’s actually a blessing that you have a passion that can be easily turned into a business. If you are a stay-home mom who has a lot of time, then that’s a very productive way of spending your time and earning at the same time. You can be a full-time mom and do this on the side, or you can be a working mom looking for another way to augment your income. So, it works both ways.”

She is lucky that her daughter also shares her passion.

“Because if you’re a single mom, you always have your child with you…So, she has been introduced into baking at a young age and she has shown interest in mixing. So, she helps me out in the kitchen in very little ways. She started pouring milk. Now, she’s graduated to cracking eggs and measuring…She can follow a recipe because she can read and count. It’s also a very fun way to bond!”

Besides being a younger baker, Bettina’s daughter, who is now in kindergarten, has also become her class’ valedictorian.

“I don’t know!” she said when asked how her daughter was able to make it despite of not having her father around. She feels fortunate that her daughter also does not experience bullying in school.

“We just pray every day. Before we go to school, we pray every day and the works. You review when there’s an exam…Her school encourages no home works, just more time for family after school.”

Nowadays, Bettina’s baking business has literally become her bread and butter. Her business stays online as her customers are usually mobile people, who prefer their food delivered. She, however, has been planning to open a kitchen café and commissary together with her siblings, who are also into the food business, and who have been assuming the role of father to her child.

“I was able to overcome it, of course, with my faith, with trust in the Lord. Because if you know the Lord as the Father, your father, and recognize the Lord also as your child’s father, then you’ll be able to focus on your role as a mother…When I realized that and the importance of having that ingrained in me every day, I wasn’t struggling so much anymore,” she noted.

She admitted though that she is not closing doors for marrying in the future.

“I think that it’s inevitable that single parents, of course moms, are hoping and praying for a partner. Pero, it’s God’s will eh. If God will bless you with a partner and if you will be enriched with a having a partner, then, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ Otherwise, I know that it’s better for me to be alone.”

This upcoming Mother’s Day, Bettina has nothing but salutes for moms like her.

“If you’re a mother, you’ve been blessed by the Lord, so focus on your role as a mom,” she said.

 “Mabuhay tayong mothers! The world will never survive without us, because we start and we sustain life!”

WATCH: Bettina Carlos defends single parents

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