JC Intal now full-time in paintingâand parenting
From epitomizing #relationshipgoals, JC and Bianca transitioned to #famgoals parenting two beautiful daughters together.

JC Intal now full-time in painting—and parenting

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda (Philstar.com) - June 22, 2021 - 11:55am

After two decades of playing basketball, JC Intal announced his retirement from the sport through an Instagram post March this year. Thanking everyone who’s helped him through all his two years playing in Letran for high school, five years in Ateneo for college, and 13 years in the PBA, JC turned emotional as he looked back on his journey. At 37 and versus the younger cagers coming in, he could have been just seen as too “irrelevant” to be given more playing time. He himself admitted this in the touching video tribute his wife Bianca Gonzalez wrote and produced for him online.

But there was a bigger reason why JC called it a day for his first love that was basketball. More than his age and art (as he is now a budding abstract painter), it was fatherhood.

“I was in Clark, Pampanga for two months for the PBA Bubble. Yun yung first time na nahiwalay ako sa pamilya ko nang matagal,” JC, dad of Lucia (six) and Carmen (two), opened up in our most recent 'Pamilya Talk' episode. “Yung panganay ko, medyo nakakaintindi na, nakaka-miss na sya. Kahit nag-vi-video call kami nun araw-araw, nung pag-uwi ko nun, talagang umiyak sya! Iba talaga! Yung bunso, umiyak din sya dahil umiyak yung ate nya.”

“Naiyak din ako nung time na yun. First time kong makita yung mga anak ko nang ganon.”

A different kind of duty was calling JC—and he had to respond right away.

From all boys to all girls

I used to admire JC only from the sidelines, as I am both an Ateneo alumna and Blue Eagles fan myself. Many times my fellow Atenista of a husband Nonong and I watched “The Rocket” do all these speedy and spectacular dunks. But it’s only recently that I’m seeing him show his other side: Being a family man.

JC has been married to the equally respected and admired media personality Bianca Gonzalez for seven years now. While they both bled blue, the two only coupled up after their Ateneo days. They dated for three and a half years before tying the knot. They would renew their vows in a gorgeous beach wedding back in December 2019. From epitomizing #relationshipgoals, JC and Bianca transitioned to #famgoals parenting two beautiful daughters together.

JC didn’t grow up around many girls. Excluding her Mommy Ning and their youngest sibling, Vica, he was surrounded by a brood of five other boys. For their kakulitan, JC and his brothers were at the mercy of traditional Filipino disciplining with the sinturon.

“Sa bahay, magulo nun. Yung bunso naming babae, di namin masyadong nakakasama sa kulitan at harutan. So, kaming mga lalaki, nagkakaroon ng suntukan. Nagkakaroon ng bullying,” he recalled with a laugh.

Being a girl dad at first then proved to be a challenge. Was he himself going to whip out a sinturon? Was he going to be the stereotypical authoritative father figure at home? He and Bianca were also learning the ropes in parenting. It didn’t matter so much that they were raising girls—no matter the sex, Lucia and Carmen were just impressionable children in need of guidance. Everything was a first for the young couple and they were figuring out a way together to get things right.

JC calls himself a “rookie dad,” as he and Bianca discover more about parenting to this day. Right now, the couple follows a parenting pattern: “Sakto lang ako as a dad. Di ako sobrang strict, di rin sobrang maluwag. Si Bianca, mas strict sakin. Hindi lang talaga ako maka-no sa mga girls ko. ‘Pag Daddy, may gusto silang ipabili na laruan. ‘Pag comfort, sa nanay naman sila.”

The Intals’ methods seem to be working, though, with the kids growing to be as smart, gentle and loving as their ‘rents.

“Ang importante is na-ga-guide namin sila. Kami sa bahay noon, lumaki kaming rumerespeto sa matatanda. Mahilig sa ‘po’ at ‘opo.’ Mahilig naman ang mga anak ko sa yakap at kiss (as love language). Kahit sa mga kasambahay namin, gusto kong maging magalang din sila. Kung nagiging masungit sila, pinagsasabihan ko ang mga yan.”

Parenting in a pandemic

On his way to retirement, JC discovered painting. With contemporary abstract painter Jigger Cruz as a major influence, the former Phoenix Fuel Masters hotshot turned to art in the past years as a sideline. He staged his first solo exhibit fittingly titled “Rookie Mistake” at J Studio in Makati City back in 2020. Last May, he then launched his virtual exhibit “Second Quarter” as part of Art Fair Philippines—a pretty big deal among local artists. He priced his paintings between P97,000 to P167,000 depending on the size.


A post shared by JC Intal 7 (@jcintal7)

Leaving basketball for good, JC who has been an athlete since fourth grade can now focus on his newfound career. He says art has unearthed a piece of him he never thought was there.

“Naging akisdenteng karir sya saken. At the same time, naisip ko na maganda tong pag-aralan. Parang basketball, kailangan ng practice.”

Perhaps, in a way, the pandemic also helped JC to think things through—not just in his career but more so regarding his family.

“Nagkaroon nako ng ibang focus. I think timing na rin, na naisip ko na time na ring mag-retire at mag-shift sa mga ibang bagay na pagkakaaabalahan.”

“Ang laking blessing na lagi kong kasama ang pamilya ko sa bahay nitong pandemic. Meron nga lang uncertainty na minsan mapapaisip ka na pag lumabas kami in the future, sana walang magkasakit.”

JC has never valued fatherhood more like he does now amid a crisis. Before the pandemic, he was lucky to be able to see his kids regularly as he trained at a court just five minutes away from home. In the past months just being at home with Lucia and Carmen, however, he realized he still had more to accomplish as a father. He wasn’t going to let things be moving forward, he then promised himself.

“Ngayon, I make sure yung oras nasa kanila habang mga chikiting pa. (Halimbawa), naligo kami nang sabay sabay recently. Kasi ‘pag lumaki na yan, syempre maiilang na sila,” he shared.

It was such a stunning epiphany.

“Never take things for granted. Tinuruan tayo ng pandemic na puro tayo trabaho dati. Ngayon, puro naman tayo pamilya. Be grateful na may anak tayong healthy.”

“Walang perfect na tatay, walang perfect na nanay. As long as yung oras nyo, andun sa kanila, sapat na yun. Di mapapalitan ng materyal na bagay ang pagmamahal na yun sa mga anak nyo.”

JC yet again recalled that emotional reunion he had with his girls after the PBA bubble.

“Kaya sabi ko nun, saludo ako sa mga nagtratrabaho sa ibang bansa at napipilitang mahiwalay sa mga kids nila.”

Handing down values

JC’s swift on-court actions lay contrast to his softness and sweetness in his words. The gentle giant that he is, no amount of trophies handed to his alma maters or conferences bannered in the pros would ever reveal any ego. With a career highlighted by silver finishes at the FIBA Asia Championship and Jones Cup both in 2015, JC remains grateful. He is ending his basketball career way later than the 10 year mark that he and best bud Doug Kramer had planned for themselves before turning pro.

“Twenty years of playing—di ko mararating yun kung walang discipline or hard work,” he mused on the best pamana he could impart to his two girls. “Kahit si Bianca, alam din yung value ng money. Kailangang paghirapan, di basta pwedeng bumili-bili ng toys or kung anong gusto. Di pwede lalo na sa panahon ngayon na na-realize mo kung ano talaga ang valuable sa buhay mo.”

“Kung may gusto kang gawin sa buhay, paghirapan mo, pagtrabahuan mo. Maniwala kayong walang imposible. Kahit anong bagay, basta ibibigay mo oras mo. Kaya mong marating yan. Haluan mo ng disiplina, dasal, at pagmamahal ‘pag wala ka nun. Di pwede ang shortcut sa buhay. Kung ano gusto mong marating, ‘pag nakuha mo na yun, isipin mo ulit kung pano aalagaan yun.”

“Sana lumaking paghirapan ng mga anak ko kung anong gusto nilang makuha at marating sa buhay.”


A post shared by JC Intal 7 (@jcintal7)

JC firmly admits not seeing himself return to the court anytime soon—a la Kelly Williams, another PBA star who left the league last September, but has since returned in March.

“Gusto kong maglaro pero baka sa ibang liga nalang, gaya ng sa village or sa mga alumni event.”

To destress, JC rides motorbikes along with our previous #PamilyaTalk guests LA Tenorio and KG Canaleta. He and the other PBA stars are part of Club 9T. As for his next sport? Who knows—maybe Muay Thai, having done martial arts in his youth?

In the meantime, JC aims to be better both as an artist and a girl dad. He’s pretty much on track if his panganay Lucia likewise drawing and painting now is proof.

I also send my well wishes to JC on his new journey, as I stand in awe of his hard work and humility. I’m as excited as the rest of The Rocket’s fans to see his artistic dreams further take off—pun intended!

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