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The Perfect Model of a Family Woman

Maria Cecilia “Maricel” Laxa Pangilinan is a common household name today, having appeared in several commercials endorsing products mothers commonly use at home and foods that children enjoy eating. But before these, Maricel was known as the actress that has appeared in several movies and teleseryes. Her versatility as an actress has gained her roles in both drama and comedy movies. She made her name in the industry when she starred in the movie lisa Pa Lamang, and it was there that she garnered a FAMAS award for Best Supporting Actress for her stellar performance. Her unparalleled experience in showbiz qualified her as a juror in ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest, and has recently appeared in the just concluded soap, Ysabella, where she played the young Victoria Amarillo.

But Maricel is not only an actress.She has taken over influential roles,juggling these with her showbiz career. She is the vice president of BusinessWorks, Inc., and a trainer for The Parenting Company. Being an advocate of family planning and breastfeeding, Maricel gives talks all over the country to educate families on the topic. Along with the lectures she gives, she also has a weekly column in the Philippine Star called “Mommytalk”. But of all the roles she has undertaken over the past years, nothing could beat her role as a mother to her four kids – Ella, Donny, Hannah, and Benjamin – and wife to Anthony Pangilinan.

Maricel and her husband have been staunch supporters of the natural family planning method. They began supporting family planning when, ironically, they couldn’t have children. Maricel says that that was the time they started planning their family. For three years they tried to have children, even undergoing series of tests, taking medications and studying how to have children.”So we had children one after the other, ganon pala yon. That was something we never planned to have,” she shares. But it was something her husband didn’t seem to mind, as he came from a big family.

She explains that the natural way, with proper education, can make a complete difference in the lives of married couples. With that, she emphasizes that family planning must first involve married couples and that it doesn’t involve preventing a husband and wife from having children. She says the best family planning method for unmarried couples is abstinence. “I want to stress that for us, there will be no issue of family planning kung walang mag-asawa. So yung kailangan lang natin ayusin no notion is, how do you become a responsible member of the family, a responsible parent, by planning-the spacing, and number of children depending on your lifestyle,” she emphasizes. She says that any parent could have as many children as long as they have the right resources and time to make the kids responsible individuals. However, for Maricel, having a few ‘kids doesn’t excuse one from family planning. “Marami man o konti yung anak mo, kailangan may piano ka, (You need to have a plan regardless of the number of your kids),” she adds.

Unfortunately in the country, the lack of education in family planning has been causing a lot of problems for Filipinos in raising their families. For Maricel, when you are properly educated, you will not go wrong with the natural method.”When you know what it means to have children,and you know what it entails to plan for your family, then you will take the necessary steps on how to have a better life as a parent,” she says.

13 inches to an infinite bond

Along with family planning, Marciel also supports breastfeeding, which is also a family planning method. She proudly says that she breastfed all four of her children, without mixing formula milk. She gives full credit to the support of her husbands that’s why she was able to breastfeed all of their children. “In our home, Anthony never bought formula. He did not consider that option of giving formula to our children. And so he told me I must give my breast to my child,” she shares.

Maricel says that at the beginning she wasn’t able to produce milk. “I told him I do not have milk, which is true because a mother will not have her milk until after 3 days of completely allowing the child to suck from the breast,” she says. But Anthony’s constant encouragement and support, telling her that their kids will only get to be strong and healthy if they get their milk straight from her,were what got her to breastfeed.

For Maricel there is no other option. Breastfeeding is a must for all mothers: “Breastfeeding has to be a choice from the beginning of, not even childbirth, but from the beginning of conception,” she states. Not only does it promote a child’s physical health, building the immune system and everything, it also helps develop mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well.

Breastfeeding also helps to create an infinite bond between mother and child. Maricel shares an interesting fact, “The baby can only see 13 inches, so it’s the exact measurement from the mother’s breast to the mother’s eyes. Because when you look at your baby, first the baby starts to see you constantly as a caring person providing nurturance and sustenance for living;’ she explains. It is this eye-to-eye contact when a mother breastfeeds her child that forms that indestructible bond and the ultimate protection for a child.

So for Maricel, breastfeeding is the right choice. Not only does it help create a bond, it’s also cheap, fresh, warm, on time, and exact. “Nothing comes close to breast milk, nothing!” she declares.

Leading the Way
It is not a surprising fact why Maricel has been asked to head the campaign on breastfeeding and family planning. Not only does her being an actress work to her advantage, but her first-hand experiences as a dutiful, passionate wife and mother, are what get her audience hooked in her countless speaking engagements.

And not only does she promote through regular she spreads the word to a wider range of people through her weekly newspaper column. “That is my own way of trying to spread the message and the importance of these things. So I give a lot of time to talk to individuals and groups,” she says.

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