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Newsmakers

Heart: Chiz’s a wiz in fatherhood

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Heart: Chiz�s a wiz in fatherhood
Senate President Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero and wife Heart Evangelista.
Photo by Ericson Castro

Senate President Chiz Escudero is accomplished in many endeavors, and to his wife Heart Evangelista, he’s even better at fatherhood.

“He’s a perfect dad,” Heart told me without a moment’s thought. “I mean, sincerely, truly. He is very hands-on, but at the same time, he doesn’t crowd their style. He gives them just enough independence to make their own choices.”

The Heart of Chiz’s life, who is “Tita Heart” to his twins Chesi and Quino, elaborates, “It’s like the saying where you put the sand in your palm? He’s like that.”

“So, it’s nice because they have grown to be really great kids. I’m very proud. Especially nowadays, it’s very different. They’re still very old-school,” she describes the twins.

During their birthday last September, Chiz said in an Instagram post: “How time flies! You are 16 now. To the best children one could ever have — happy, happy birthday to our twins Chesi and Quino! We love you!” Chiz told his children in his post.

According to Heart, who wed Chiz in a fairytale wedding on Balesin Island on Feb. 15, 2015, “Chiz is very loving. He’s not very showy or demonstrative. But with them, he is. With his kids, you will hear him baby talk!”

For his part, Chiz describes his relationship with his twins and Heart as “very close.”

“They’re my kids with my first  (wife) but they’re close to Heart, too, simply because of the age gap. Less yung age gap nila kesa kami,” says Chiz, who is 15 years older than Heart. Heart is 39 years old, and Chiz, 54. Heart and the twins also share a love for K-pop.

“I always joke that I’m the eldest (of his children),” says Heart, who is actually the youngest of Rey and Cecile Ongpauco’s children.

Heart confides that among the qualities that attracted her to Chiz, whom she met through the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, was his being very “traditional’ like her dad, Rey Ongpauco.

“He’s very the same as Chiz. He was not demonstrative when we were younger. When my dad became older, he became more demonstrative. He would say, ‘I love you,’  when before, he didn’t. My dad was also very strict and very Filipino. So that’s why I feel like I was also attracted to Chiz because he’s very traditional Filipino,” says Heart.

Chiz, who spares the rod but does not spoil the child, used to help out his children with their homework.

“In the beginning, I could do it,” he recalls. “But when they were in Grade 10, 11, hindi ko na kaya eh. They already had calculus, would you believe?” Quino goes to Xavier while Chesi to the British School of Manila.  Both schools bring out the best in his children.

Quino is like “a fish in water” at Xavier while Chesi is blooming at BSM. All’s well in the Escudero household.

Lessons from Tatay

Chiz, who was born “Francis Joseph Guevara Escudero” on Oct. 10, 1969, is one of three children of the late former Agriculture Secretary Salvador Escudero and his wife, former Sorsogon Rep. Dr. Evelina Guevara-Escudero.

Both his parents were professors at the University of the Philippines in Diliman when Chiz and his siblings were growing up. The older Escudero taught veterinary medicine and was dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. His mother taught home economics, also at UP. (“Kaya mura ang tuition ko,” quips Chiz, who went to UP from elementary to Law school.)

“What my Tatay taught us, basically, was to stand on our own because they were busy working — which I made sure not to do with my kids. I wanted to be there for my kids.”

“So he taught me what I wanted and was looking for. But in a way, it was good, too, because it made us stronger. In those days, there were no tutors yet, no Internet. Ni walang nagtatanong sa akin kung ginawa ko na assignment ko o hindi. Papagalitan nalang kami kapag… I mean, typical of the time.”

Chiz values his father’s legacy so much he wears his jade ring.

The Escuderos’ 2023 Christmas card posted by Chiz and Heart in their Instagram accounts.

“By the time my father died of colon cancer, the jade had turned white. I asked my father a few months before he passed away what that white stone was called. He told me it used to be jade. According to my Tatay, jade absorbs all the negative energy. So if you regularly wear jade, not only as an ornament depending on what you’re wearing, it’s supposed to absorb the negative energy around you.”

Chiz had the ring cleaned and replaced the “white stone” with a new jade. Looking at the ring during our conversation, it’s vividly green still.

“I became close to my dad only when I started having an interest in politics. My dad and my mom were both busy working. When I was born, he was the dean of the college,” he shares.

The Escuderos lived in an 800-sq.-m property of his mother’s family in Quezon City, which was subdivided among his mother and her five siblings.

“Our house in that compound was the former garage. So tumubo nalang ng parang kabute yung mga bahay,” he recalls.

FrancisKo

Chiz was asked by a colleague how he felt when Heart took to social media to announce the miscarriage of their unborn baby. It was the fourth baby they had lost.

In an Instagram post on May 12, Heart shared a handwritten letter to her son, whom she was supposed to name “FrancisKo.”

“I was sure to meet you soon. I had prepared a few things that you may like but for some reason your beating heart lost its way to us,” the letter read.

Chiz says he and his wife have different ways of grieving.

“Baligtad kami. Siya, she needs to put it out there. Ako, I don’t. I guess we have different ways of coping, which is in a way good, because we are both emotional. My way of coping is different from hers. That’s one of her ways of coping.”

Heart told me she and Chiz won’t give up on trying to have a child. “But if the day doesn’t happen, I’m alright,” she says.

Heart knew she “truly” loved Chiz when she realized she loved his children, too.

She remembers it was their first trip abroad as a family and they travelled without a nanny. She was 27, and the twins were four.

“I’ve never been exposed to kids. And they had jet lag and, I was still very young. I was 27, but I was 16 in the mind. So, I’m giving them baths, you know, one eye with eyeliner, one without. They were crying, they didn’t want to change clothes. It was a struggle for me. But that’s when I knew that I truly loved him, because I really loved the kids as well.”

And hopefully they have more, and more loving experiences with the twins.

“They’re all very smart and he’s very loving. It’s nice,” she says.

Perfect?

“Very, very,” she smiles.

Happy Father’s Day in advance, Chiz, and to all fathers and father figures!

 

 

You may e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.

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CHIZ ESCUDERO

HEART EVANGELISTA

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