Ayen preggy with her 5th child; bows out of ABS-CBN soap

Elvie Matias - The Philippine Star
Ayen preggy with her 5th child; bows out of ABS-CBN soap

Ayen Munji-Laurel (second from left) with her Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin (from left) co-stars Michael de Mesa, Gerald Anderson and director Dan Villegas

MANILA, Philippines - In the thick of her wonderfully challenging kontrabida role in the ongoing ABS-CBN teleserye Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin, Ayen Munji-Laurel had to make the painful decision of quitting the show because of her pregnancy.

In the series, Ayen played Victoria dela Vega. She served as the main protagonist in the story that intertwines the lives of the characters of the soap’s lead actors — Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu. Jake Cuenca and Coleen Garcia also star in the Dreamscape production.

Ayen, who is married to singer-actor Franco Laurel and a proud mother of four children, is already on her fifth month. When she was just nearing the end of the first trimester of her fifth pregnancy, as in all her past pregnancies, this period proved to be high-risk if not most challenging for her physically and emotionally. Thus, Ayen, who is due to give birth on Dec. 12, needed to leave the show.

Ayen said they started working on the soap in October, last year. She found out she was pregnant in April, one month before the soap was launched on May 1. Knowing that the conflict in the story emanating from her character would last until the end, her manager Popoy Caritativo discussed with Dreamscape’s Deo Endrinal the changes that needed to be done since her tummy would undoubtedly show before the end of the program. Major changes were undertaken in the production, script re-written and her character had a major revision. Consequently, Victoria reached the end of her saga. And it was quite a spectacle.

Ayen appreciates the support of ABS-CBN and Dreamscape all throughout. “They were very, very supportive and very caring. They even had a medical team on board while I was taping. They also reduced my cut-off time from 2 a.m. to 12 midnight. They were very considerate. I couldn’t ask for a better team. Sobrang bait nila,” she said.

The actress said that she is in a much better place now. “I have learned to accept it with all my heart. God showed me that no matter what I have planned for my life, in the end it is still God’s plans that will prevail. I’m enjoying my pregnancy and relishing the rest from all my days of non-stop working. Come to think of it, the only time I am really able to rest is when I get pregnant!” she said, laughing.

She said she was about to launch an album when Angia, now 14 (with a voice of an angel), was conceived. For her three-year-old Sofia, she also had to take a leave from the soap she was working on then on GMA 7. And now this. “Maybe God knows that I will not voluntarily stop working that’s why He makes sure I get pregnant again when He thinks I needed to rest,” she joked.

The former princess also takes stock of the beautiful family life she has. She said she was reminded of the truth that all her children bring her so much joy.

Her eldest Mariella, 26, is now trying her wings on stage — acting, writing and directing. In fact, come October, she will launch her first directorial project, a sung-through musical where she will also be performing under the music division of Artists Playground’s Playlist. She also wants to study abroad to further hone her craft. Television and films are also part of her future plans.

Mariella has also been getting offers to do indie and short films and the good thing is, this early, she knows how to go about responding to these offers. “She knows what questions to ask,” Ayen said.

Of all her kids, Ayen believes Mariella is the one most likely to follow her footsteps. “I feel that this is the right time for her to penetrate this industry. She is ready, even her temperament is right,” Ayen said.

Her only son Hasan, 22, is also very musically inclined, a gift he certainly got from his grandfather Emy Munji. He plays the bass guitar in a Christian band called Saved and is now on his junior year in college taking up Music Production. He is also interested in films.

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