Barbie's Dolls

- Ricky Lo () - July 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Five years after they got married, first in secret civil rites on May 21, 2006, Barbie Almalbis and Martin Honasan are still on romantic mode, the air around them filled with the sound of romantic music. They have two kids now, Stina, four years old, and Liam, one year old, who had a joint celebration last month because they are both June-born.

Back in circulation with a new album called Goodbye My Shadow (recorded by 12 Stones Records, which is owned and operated by Barbie’s manager Tommy Tanchanco, and released through Star Records), Barbie keeps a balance between her career and her family.

She and Martin share a love not only of music but of painting as well, and the greatest love of all — that of God. They are both Born-Again Christians, members of Victory Christian Fellowship (to which also belongs the likes of Coney Reyes and Piolo Pascual).

Barbie is 33 and Martin is 35. He’s the second to the eldest among the five children of Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. Martin is an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate from Ateneo. 

During this Conversation, Barbie recalled how their romance started.

“We didn’t plan to go steady. It just happened. One night, we went out with our friends who left just the two of us behind because they had to go somewhere. We spent the night talking, opening up to each other. That was in 2005. Later that year, Martin made known his intention to court me. In April the next year, we got engaged. In May, we got married na.”

The proposal was straight out of a Regal romance.

With husband Martin Honasan shown playing the piano for Stina,

“You know what Martin did? Well, we were at the rooftop of their house. He spread a mat (banig) and then placed candles and flowers around it. He opened a bottle of wine and we shared it. Sayang nga lang at walang buwan that night. Cloudy kasi, eh! Pero okey lang; it was still as memorable as ever. No drama. He simply asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ I didn’t waste time. ‘Yes,’ I said right away.”

Barbie talked about what she did during a considerable “break” in her career.

You were able to finish an album during your break.

“It took longer this time because I had to divide my time between the album and my family. All in all, the album took five years to write and a year to make. Usually, I just keep on writing and writing over the years. I have written more than 40 songs and I just chose 10 for the album.”

Tell us more about the songs and a brief backgrounder of each.

“First is Ostrich Cowboy. It’s an upbeat song. The title, given by my bandmate, is inspired daw by the way the song sounds. The song actually came from my dream. It was a very colorful dream, so vivid that I remembered all the details. When I woke up, I wrote the song at once.

“Goodbye My Shadow, the carrier single, I began writing more than five years ago even before I got married. There was a first version but when I dug it from my file, I decided to update it. I retained the lyrics but I changed the melody.”

Any song that you wrote for Martin?

“Yes, the third one, Buntala, was originally titled Constellation. The word ‘comet’ is in the lyrics. But since there’s no Tagalog word for constellation, I decided to just call it Buntala. I wrote it when Martin and I were married na.

“Song No. 4 is Unraveling which is about how God loves you and takes you layer by layer so that you will know yourself better.

“There’s also Always You which is about God but not really a Christian song. It’s basically a love song.

“No Police and Lights, together with Always You, are about different seasons of my walk with God.

“Where Have You Been was originally titled Western Union but I had to change the title so it wouldn’t sound like an advertisement for Western Union. I wrote that song while we were doing sound check during our show in Bacolod. I started writing about the things that I saw on the street and the first thing that came up in my mind was the Western Union sign.”

Any song for your kids?

“Song No. 9 is for them. It’s called Child of Mine which I wrote when I was pregnant with Stina and I recorded it when I was pregnant with Liam.

“The last song, Wait Till Sunday, is a love song about Martin and me. We first met kasi in church on a Sunday and that’s where we would meet every Sunday. We are both members of the Victory Christian Fellowship.”

How has motherhood changed the way you look at life?

“Mas malawak na. Definitely, a lot of things have changed since I got married. What they say is true. Before, it was my, me and mine. Now, the kids come first. I have relegated myself to the background. Motherhood is one of the most beautiful things that happened to me; it’s something that I thank God for every day. It’s just amazing loving your kids, loving your husband.

What do you sing to your kids when you put them to sleep?

“Music is a big part of our family. Throughout the day, we sing nursery rhymes. Martin also sings, and he plays the piano, so we do a lot of jamming at home.”

Why didn’t you do a duet with him for your album?

“Ayaw niya. He said that he likes playing music at home but he doesn’t like to pursue it daw.”

What about Sen. Gringo, your father-in-law, does he sing?

“Yeah, he does. He sings at parties.”

Have you done a duet with him during one of those parties?

“No, not yet.”

What type of songs easily put your kids to sleep?

“Songs from the cartoons that they watch like Dora The Explorer, and a whole catalogue of nursery rhymes like ABC and Hickory Dickory Duck. Our kids are musically-inclined. I use music in teaching them things. Colors, for example. When Stina was a toddler, I saw that she was finding it hard to understand and remember colors, so I decided to use music. When she was two years old, I started using the technique on her. I would get boxes of clays that looked identical but of different colors — blue, yellow, red, green, etc. I would sing to her, Little boxes, little boxes; there’s a blue one and the green one and the yellow one. Instantly, in just one day, she remembered na which box was colored blue, which box was colored yellow, so on and so forth. I used the same technique on Liam.”

How else do you use music in bringing up your kids?

“Well, music is also a creative outlet for them. I bought them a small drum set and other little instruments. Stina is in pre-school and she actually writes songs. When she sees something, she turns it into a song. She has written two songs na, mga two-liners lang naman.”

You and Martin have been married for five years. So far, so good?

“It has been challenging, especially now that our kids are growing up fast. We also do a lot of growing up as a couple, just like any couple. It’s a worthwhile experience. It helps that we were acquaintances for three years and, you know, we would just meet in church every Sunday. Then, we met by chance at a dinner in Greenbelt. ‘Hi!’ and ‘Hello!’ lang kami. We eventually became friends, until we ended up married. We put Christ at the center of our family.”

Besides music, what do you and Martin have in common?

“Martin is also an artist. He paints, I paint. I take after my mom (Teresa Hontiveros) who paints. But the most important thing is our deep relationship with God. That’s what we always talk about, aside from music.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.phor at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit http://www.philstar.com/funfare.)

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