Korina with Pilar and Pepe.
Photo by Büm Tenorio Jr.
Twin joys, multiple blessings
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

There is everything unique and nothing ordinary about the home of Mar Roxas, his wife Korina Sanchez, their twins Pepe and Pilar and their four-legged babies in Cubao, Quezon City.

An oasis amidst the hustle and bustle, the noisy jeepneys and concrete jungle in busy Cubao, the house is a bachelor’s pad turned family home. Built in the mid-century style, the two-story house is embraced by towering trees, lush plants and a sea of green grass. The wow factor isn’t on its modest façade — it’s inside the house. How its occupants have turned it into a repository of conversation pieces, a union of their character, and a cradle for their hearts — is what makes a visit to the Roxas home unforgettable.

The Roxas’ living/dining room has a view of the lawn where Liberal Party greats used to gather.
Photos by Joanne Rae Ramirez

To give their precious babies a room close to theirs in a house originally built for two bachelors (Mar and his late brother Dinggoy), Mar and Korina had the second floor terrace converted into a nursery. Hence, when the curtains are wide open, it seems like Pepe and Pilar have a room in a treehouse.

Korina’s touch is visible the minute you walk into the library, the first room you see beyond the foyer. On one wall is a framed collection of worn-out slippers.

“In every random poor community we do charity for once a month, I always have my Tsinelas campaign. We give away about 200 new rubber slippers to children 15 years old and below who mostly have no slippers to wear at all — all wear very tattered, hardly wearable slippers. Poor Pinoy children are very resilient and creative in the way they try their darnedest to preserve their old slippers. They use wires, straw, rope, cardboard, so they can prolong usage. Some wear slippers with the biggest holes and you wouldn’t really know unless they take off their slippers,” Korina explains. The tsinelas have pride of place amid the Roxas’ collection of paintings by Filipino masters.

Korina gathers old slippers and makes them into framed art, which she sells for P25,000 to buy more slippers.

“Because to poor children, wearing slippers is dignity,” Korina continues. “It doesn’t matter if they feel the heat, the dirt or the wetness of the ground. As long as they have thongs to show on top. When I give slippers, they weep. They hold their new slippers in their arms and don’t want to wear them. And then I know they start believing in miracles again.”

Korina then gathers the old slippers and makes them into framed art. She sells each frame for P25,000 and buys more slippers with the money. “Each pair has a story to tell,” she sighs.

In the same receiving room is a pair of Business Class seats, which serve as accent chairs in a room full of couches. These are Mar’s.

“I’m not sure exactly why Mar has those. I joke him about having a former girlfriend who was a stewardess,” the lady of the house laughs. “Mar used to travel a lot as a banker. And he loved airline seats. He used to watch TV and eat his meals in his bedroom in those. Until I said they go down to the library.”

Business Class seats in Mar and Korina’s home make good accent chairs.

To the right of the library are doors that open to the living/dining room. The open concept living space has a view to history — the lawn where Liberal Party greats used to gather (among them Mar’s father Sen. Gerry Roxas, former senators Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tañada and Ninoy Aquino, etc.). Just like the library, the place is lined with books, and the coffee tables are spruced up with fresh flowers and fruits. There are feng shui elements all over — Korina believes there are things in this world we are not aware of, secrets to better flow of energy that still have to be unlocked.

She has brewed coffee mixed with collagen powder for brunch as for the moment she is fasting intermittently as part of her efforts to be healthy and fit. As we chat over brunch of homemade chicken sandwiches, mango tarts and melon slices, twin rays of sunshine brighten up the room — eight-month-old Pepe and Pilar.

Korina is transformed. She coos, sings, talks like a child, does pantomimes. She is lost in the world of her children. “Meet your new friends,” she gestures to me and Allure assistant editor Büm Tenorio Jr., who sings Tatlong Bibe to the twins. Pilar’s eyes are fixed on her Tito Büm. Korina raises Pepe up into the air with her toned arms.

“Pepe just loves to be hugged,” she describes her son. “Pilar is more independent. She’s a multi-tasker, too.”

Is she putting her career on hold and becoming a full-time housewife?

“No. Not yet, anyway. Now, I am mostly at home. I have meetings morning till night right here. But I remote-control my projects. I have very loving and able help from a nurse and caregiver. Maybe when Pepe and Pilar are older, more interactive and needier, I will definitely be around. But I always say that women shouldn’t be judged for trying to juggle motherhood and a full life. If it works, why wouldn’t you have it all? If it doesn’t, you must adjust. Ganoon lang ‘yun,” she believes.

She wants her children to grow up feeling a “need” — the way she herself grew feeling the need to excel, to make a name for herself, to shine.

Korina also says she wants to record her messages to her twins on video — messages for every decade in their lives.

“Like when to take collagen!” she giggles.

She’s also made sure her kids have young godparents. “You know, we are not young. I intend to live up to 120 years old but, who knows? Other parents check out in their thirties. We just want to lay the foundation for Plan B. Maraming bilinan ito. So family may be the best to carry on.”

But for now, Plan A is in full swing. Or shall I say, “Plan K?”

“My know-how so far is from a combination of observation from the doctors and caregivers, never ending YouTube instructionals and videos and, yes, instinct. No one can care for your child more than yourself. When no one else knows what to do, you will step up.”

Step up secure in one’s own tsinelas, of course!

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

KORINA SANCHEZ
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