Valerie Concepcion revealed in an episode of ABS-CBN's "Magandang Buhay" that because she got pregnant out of wedlock at a young age, she had no choice but to become responsible and mature at only 16 years old.
"Tinago ko [sa parents ko] na may boyfriend ako, tapos biglang buntis na nga. Habang buntis pa ako, kinukulong ako sa bahay kasi natatakot sila na baka makipagtanan ako. Kasi na-in love talaga ako nung time na yun sa tatay ng anak ko," the 31-year-old actress recalled.
The mom of one thought she would have a happy ending with the father of her child, him being her first boyfriend, as in a fairy tale. And while the guy offered to marry Valerie, her parents said no because she was not even of legal age yet.
"Sabi nila, 'Pag 18 na siya at nasa legal age na siya puwede siyang magpakasal, kung gusto niya pang magpakasal, bumalik ka na lang," she said.
"Una iyak-iyak lang ako. Hindi ba dadating yung guy? Hindi ba kami ise-save? Hindi ba kami kukunin?" Valerie remained hopeful for a future with the father of her child, but she later realized that he was never coming back. She resolved to pick up the pieces, using her heartbreak to her advantage.
"Sabi ko [sa sarili ko] 'Kung wala akong aasahan, kailangan sa sarili ko, magtrabaho na ako, kasi may buhay na akong susuportahan e. So, automatic, yung mother's instinct ko lumabas," adding it was with the help of her parents and their guidance that she was able to survive being a young mother.
Though her daughter Heather Fiona is only 14 years old, Valerie says she has been honest with her from the beginning about the identity of her father, whom she has never met.
"Bata pa lang sya, hindi ako nagsisinungaling. Sinasagot ko nang maayos, ini-explain ko lahat. Kahit hindi pa nya nakikita in person yung dad nya, pinakita ko yung picture. Eto yung tatay mo, eto ang pangalan nya. Wala akong sinisikreto sa kanya," she says.
She feels this openness she showed her daughter is the reason why the teenager is also quite candid with her. It's something she appreciates, having learned from her own experience.
"Ngayon na teenager na sya, hindi sya nagsi-sikreto sa akin and I'm so thankful. At least maga-guide ko sya nang tama. Mas malaki yung tsansa na hindi nya maulit yung mga pagkakamali ko sa buhay."
Valerie admits that her greatest fear as a parent is that her daughter might commit the same mistakes she made when she was her age. At 14, Heather is only two years younger than Valerie when the latter became a mom.
"Kinatatakutan ko na maging teenage mom din sya. Kasi ako napilitan akong mag-mature agad e. Hindi ko na-enjoy yung pagiging teenager. Hindi ko na-enjoy yung mga date-date na yan, hindi ko na-enjoy yung mga labas-labas with friends. Napilitan akong maging responsable agad. Yun yung ayoko sana, na hindi sya manakawan ng panahon, yung ma-enjoy nya yung normal na life."
These days, everything is coming up roses in Valerie's life.
In August of the same year, Valerie got engaged to Francis Sunga, her non-showbiz boyfriend of two years, who works as a court clerk in Guam. They've been maintaining a long-distance relationship and will soon be altar-bound.
With her family life and career all falling into place, it is no wonder this mom and soon-to-be bride feels blessed.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.