Regine & Lander: Two right people who met at the right time - CONVERSATIONS with Ricky Lo
() - November 12, 2000 - 12:00am
When love comes in and takes you for a spin, oh-la-la-la!

The song is right in the case of thousands of lovers, Regine Tolentino and Lander Vera-Perez included.

Regine, born and bred in the US, was 18 when she met and fell in love with Lander, then 24, right when big opportunities were opening for them in showbiz. She was being offered a renewal of her contract as an MTV veejay and he was getting bigger and better roles in movies and TV shows. They set aside showbiz and decided to settle down as man and wife – sans regrets.

The couple is now blessed with two daughters, Azucena Reigne, one year and 10 months old (named after Lander’s lola, Azucena "Nene" Perez), and Alessandra Reigen, all of two months (named after Regine’s lola).

On the day Conversations visited them, Regine and Lander had just finished fixing their Christmas tree which dominates the cozy sala of the townhouse at Corinthian Place just across the unit occupied by Lander’s aunt, Marichu "Manay Ichu" Perez-Maceda. The compound is a breath away from the sprawling Sampaguita Pictures Studio in Quezon City and a stone’s throw from Regine’s store that bears her name, located at the ground floor of the condo building at the corner of N. Domingo and Valencia streets.

They are a happy couple and it shows. While being set up for the family photo, Lander volunteered to carry little Alessandra who looked so fragile you’re afraid she might break if you’re not careful. The electric fan wasn’t working well this humid afternoon and Lander lovingly wiped traces of sweat from Regine’s brow. Otherwise, they were looking into each other’s eyes and breaking into smiles as if sharing some private jokes.

How long have you been married?

Regine:
Three years. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary last June 18. Civil wedding ‘yon. We got married in church on Oct. 18 the same year (1997).

How come it took four months between the two weddings?

Lander:
We wanted to keep our (civil) wedding a secret. One week later, nag-leak sa press. So we said we might as well formally announce it na and plan our church wedding.

Are you still in your adjustment period?

Regine:
Not anymore, especially now that we have two kids.

Lander:
It didn’t take long for Regine and me to get adjusted to each other. But when the kids started coming, hayun, we had to learn to adjust to being parents. During our courtship period and when we were going steady, adjusted na kami sa isa’t-isa.

How did you meet and fall in love?

Regine:
We met while taping for Flames (an ABS-CBN drama series) where Lander played my husband. But I didn’t know that he was gonna be my partner until the day before the taping. That was on Dec. 8, 1996. He helped me with my lines and I appreciated it. My Tagalog was bad, you know. Right then and there, I really liked him na.

Love at first sight?

Regine:
Maybe. I found him to be mabait. Since I was born and grew up in the States, I liked people who could speak Tagalog well. Even if I was talking to him in English, Lander kept on answering me in Tagalog. He never spoke to me in English at all.

Lander
(Laughing): Nahihirapan ako mag-English, e!

Were you trying to impress Regine? What was the first thing that attracted you to her?

Lander:
I was comfortable with her right away, even during our first scene together, the wedding scene. One week after the taping, I started paging her, sending her messages. What was it that first attracted me to her? Her eyes, ‘yung pagka-bubbly niya, her whole personality.

It’s a good thing you didn’t have any girlfriend at that time, and Regine naman didn’t have any boyfriend.

Lander:
Perfect timing nga, e. She was in a wedding gown and I was in a Barong Tagalog while I was teaching her her lines. Baluktot mag-Tagalog, e. One week kami nag-taping pero parang ang bilis. Enjoy kasi kami sa isa’t-isa, e.

Was it mutual attraction?

Regine:
Oh, yes, it was! After the taping when he began paging me and sending me text messages, para bang I was thrilled. No other guy was as patient as he was in paging and texting me, saying simply "Hi! How are you?" Or, "I miss you!" How sweet of him, di ba? "If you have time, page me where I can call you!" Mga ganoon.

Lander:
How did I get her number? Well, when I learned that she wanted a personalized car plate, nag-volunteer akong lakarin ‘yon. She was then an MTV veejay, kaya ang letters sa car plate were MTVVJ, five letters. I got her number from her mom.

And when was your first date?

Regine:
Dec. 30, 1996. His birthday.

Lander:
I didn’t tell her. I just invited her to my party.

Regine:
I didn’t know it was his birthday until I got to the party.

Lander:
The whole night, I was trying hard to impress her. I was singing the whole night, playing my bass guitar with my band. Kanta ako nang kanta, kahit anong song. Trying hard to impress nga, e.

Regine:
Until that night, I didn’t know anything about his family, his past, his background – nothing! When my former manager later learned that Lander was courting me, he warned me, "Si Lander? Di ba may anak na ‘yan?" There was such a rumor then, di ba?

What else happened during the party? Were you impressed by his singing?

Regine:
Oh, yes, I was! Was I? (Laughs) I was more impressed by his solicitousness. I didn’t really go out on dates that much but that night I was with Lander, I was – how do you call it? – kinikilig! I was touched by the little things he was doing for me. I was 18 at that time and I was impressionable.

Lander:
And I was going on 24, older by six years. For our second date, we went to a showbiz party together. And guess kung saan ang third date namin – sa sabungan!

Regine:
His father was fond of cock—fighting. Lander brought me there so I could see naman what a sabong was.

How did the courtship go? With flowers and chocolates, love notes and whatnots?

Regine:
Honestly, weird! I don’t re—member him ever proposing to me. You know, "Will you marry me?" Or things like that. Parang no big deal. There wasn’t even any engagement ring. Sometimes, he did write me letters na may kasamang flowers. Just like that. Nothing earthshaking.

Lander:
We were very casual about the whole thing.

Regine:
Then for our Valentine date in February, 1997, na-late pa siya ng three hours because he had a taping.

And how did he propose?

Regine:
It also happened casually. During our courtship, he didn’t say, "Will you be my girlfriend?" Basta nangyari na lang. We enjoyed each other’s company; we just wanted to be together all the time. He’d drop by when I had taping or I’d visit him on the set.

When did you realize that you were seriously in love and that you wanted to get married na?

Regine:
Well, I started asking myself questions, like, "Is he the man I want to grow old with?" The answer was yes. The answer to the other question was also yes. I told myself, "God, I really like this guy!"

Lander:
The feeling was the same. Hindi ko lang siya makita ng isang araw, miss na miss ko na siya. At first, I’d tease her, "Let’s get married na!" and she seemed to be excited naman. Parang gustung-gusto na niya.

Regine:
Hindi naman! Hindi naman ganoon!

Lander:
O, hindi raw!

Regine:
The truth is that I really wanted to get married na. I was so in love, e! I’m still so in love.

Regine grew up in the States while you grew up in the Philippines. Wala bang cultural clashes?

Lander:
Walang ganoon. From the start, magkasundo na kami.

Regine:
I’d ask him about Filipino customs and tradition, about Philippine history, and stuff like that. All of us – my parents, Regina Sales Tolentino and George Maristela, and my two brothers and one sister – grew up in the States but we were brought up the Filipino way, trained to be courteous and polite, to be religious. We went to a private school in Orange County, Southern California. We were brought up on Filipino values. We have our morals. When I met Lander, I discovered that we share the same kind of upbringing so we really matched from the very start.

Lander:
Kaya nga we were in a hurry to get married. Nag-click kami kaagad. It’s hard to find somebody having all the qualities you’re looking for. In the beginning, we planned to keep our civil marriage a secret even from our respective families, pero nabuko kami, e. (Lander is one of the three children, all boys, of Pepito Vera-Perez and Bernadette Cruz Marquez. – RFL)

There was a rumor that Regine was pregnant that’s why you were in a hurry.

Lander:
How could that be when Regine got pregnant eight months after our church wedding? Well, time has proven the rumor wrong.

Do you ever fight? Over what, usually?

Regine
(Laughing): I’m usually the one who instigates the fights. I get nasty when I’m pregnant. Sometimes when I get tense over our business, hayun, inaaway ko siya. I’m a bit emotional kasi, e. He’s cool. He doesn’t fight back.

Lander:
Sometimes when I drink, usually with her dad, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night when the baby cries. Ako kasi ang nagpi-feed ng baby at night or nagtsi-change ng diaper niya. The baby sleeps in her own bed just beside ours, with the older baby on her own bed sa other side. Kami ni Regine ang nasa gitna.

Regine:
And I fight with him because sometimes I’m stuck with the two babies, both crying.

Lander:
I woke up one morning and she asked me, "Masakit ba ang braso mo?" I wondered why. "Didn’t you know, sinuntok kita kagabi!"

But of course you were not drunk when you proposed to Regine.

Lander:
A, hindi. Sober na sober ako noon.

Are you the jealous type?

Regine:
A bit. Marami kasing temptations sa showbiz, di ba?

But you’re faithful, Lander, aren’t you?

Lander:
I am. Very faithful!

Are there temptations?

Lander:
If there are, hindi ko napapansin, hindi ko pinapansin. I’m so busy, you know. I bathe the babies, I put them to sleep.

What did you give up for marriage, aside from career opportunities?

Regine:
I was a member of Star Circle batch 1, together with Rico Yan. I was 17 when I was hired by MTV. After my debut, I didn’t renew na my contract because we were getting married na nga. Talent Center also had plans for me but hindi natuloy. (After her, the likes of Giselle Toengi, Shannen and Donita Rose took over as MTV veejays. – RFL)

Lander:
My carefree lifestyle. Now I’m a homebody. Sa kanya umiikot ang mundo ko at sa mga anak namin. She has everything I want in a woman – good upbringing, nice outlook in life, positive attitude. Regine is actually more mature than her age. She’s focused on what she’s doing. Very loving and very thoughtful. At mahusay mag-bake ng cake.

Regine:
He’s a good husband and a good father. He has no more nightouts. If he wants to drink, he invites my dad over at silang dalawa ang nag-iinuman. Or his friends.

What values you learned from your parents are you now using in bringing up your own kids?

Regine:
My mom is my best friend so I want my daughters to look up to me not just as their mom but as their best friend. My mom was never strict on us, we never had any curfew, but she thought us discipline. If I stayed out later than 11 in the evening, parang nahihiya na ako sa mom ko. Because she’s my best friend, we go shopping together. She helps me with everything, including how to do my make-up. I run to her for tips on how to take care of our kids.

Lander:
I want to spoil them and yet I don’t want to. For example, Reigne would ask for chocolates but I don’t want to give her. When she starts crying, napipilitan akong bigyan na rin siya. I want them to do well in school. When I was in school kasi, palagi akong line of 9 – you know, 59, 69, 79. ’Yon ang mga grades ko. (Laughs) Being the first grandchildren in both our families, siempre spoiled sila ng mga lolo at lola niya.

How many more kids do you want to have?

Regine:
Two more.

Lander:
One more girl and a boy.

Regine:
Gusto ko all girls.

Lander:
Mas okey kung mayroong boy.

Would you allow any of your kids to join showbiz?

Regine and Lander:
As soon as they’re through with school, they can decide for themselves.

ARING DIDN LANDER ONE REGINE REGINE AND LANDER
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with