Albert Martinez And His Family Give An Inside Look Of Their Home That Is Filled With Beautiful Memories
A few years after his wife Liezl succumbed to cancer, Bagani actor Albert Martinez can’t seem to accept that she is gone. Life is just not the same without her; that is what defines his life now as a single dad. But while he still grieves as a husband, he has become the single father who nurtures the family ties. In many ways, it is a celebration of the life he and Liezl and their children had—and will always have—together.
Albert Martinez walks around his house, stopping now and then to cuddle one of the many dogs who roam freely. He is cool and relaxed, in spite of the summer heat and the bustle from the family photo shoot. The house is filled with so many little details that make it simple, warm, and welcoming. Liezl, the family matriarch, is very much present in all the details of this home, ever the center of family life—even if she has passed on.
Fighting the Big C
At the time of this shoot, it had been more than a year since Liezl passed away (she died on March 2015), but Albert is still convincing himself that she was gone. He is seated in the family room while his children take turns preparing for the photo shoot in the garden. “It's most difficult at night. Everything around me—not just here at home—reminds me of her. I mean, come on, 30 years together! This has been our home since 1994, which we bought several years after coming back to the Philippines from the US.”
He recalls the seven-and-a-half years when the family struggled with Liezl’s cancer. “I was emotionally and mentally prepared for marriage and family, but nothing can prepare you for losing your loved one. Cancer is a very vicious condition. In a short span of time, I went from knowing nothing to being so well-informed about cancer. I read up on it as much as I can. That first year was horrible for us.”
He recalls the second year, “We were in denial. We opted to move on a day-to-day basis, to maximize the moments. But really, it was an emotional rollercoaster; some days she was okay, then suddenly she was not.”
Liezl had three years in remission, and the family thought they had beaten the disease. When it came back, Albert thought they could handle it, but the “second bout was aggressive. It was really scary.”
Life without Liezl
He says everything he built from the time they were a couple was for her. It helped a lot that they started their married life independently.
“Given another chance to live my life all over again, I would do it the same way. When Liezl decided to come with me, she gave up everything—her family, her home, her princess-like life. The least I could do was to give her a life together that will never make her look back and regret she took that chance to be with me.”
These days, Albert, now 57, makes sure he eats the right food, gets enough rest, and works out, so he can give his best at work. “I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I do my stretching and, weather permitting, I bike around the subdivision. Then I do my upper body workout, cool down in the sauna, then go off to work, which can last till the wee hours. This is my schedule every day except Sundays. When I have an extra day off, I bike with my cycling group.”
He is busy, but his plate is no longer as full as it used to be. “When I lost Liezl, I realized that I worked so hard, but for what? Our plan was to grow old together, enjoy our grandchildren. So I got rid of all my other businesses apart from acting. Acting keeps me young and happy, but now I’m just cruising. I’ve given enough of my time to the industry.”
It’s been quiet now, returning from work every day, especially since it’s just him and Alissa at home. “The kids are all grown up, have lives and activities of their own.”
Alyanna is most like Albert
Albert says she is most like him. They look alike, are both creative, and even share the same passion for dogs, style, and cooking. “I think it’s probably why we never have a problem getting along,” Alyanna observes.
She left home when she was 25. How she managed to do this was tricky. She says, “The way I do things is I tell my plans as a joke, just to test the waters. No one was paying attention to my plan. So one day I just got my own place, furnished it, and told them I’m moving out. My Mom was a bit upset, but she understood that it was the height of my work as a stylist, and half my day was spent in the car, in traffic.
"What I wasn’t prepared for was keeping house on my own—paying the bills, keeping it clean, making it a home. After a year with five different helpers, it was clear having a helper is not for me. The stress was just too much. I’m used to being independent, so I decided I liked it better that way. My mom grew up like a princess, but I’m more like my Dad that way. Also, although we’re both sociable, we need time to be alone."
Alfonso is Lola Nena’s favorite
Only son Alfonso is what Albert would call “the thinker” and “the quiet one.” Now 31, Alfonso says he shared more interests with his Mom: “We bonded over books and movies, which we’ve always been passionate about."
On their return to the Philippines, he recalls appearing in the afternoon variety show Ang TV with Alyanna, co-starring with other celebrity kids like Vandolph. For him, though, it was like playing, with people appreciating how well he “played.” “Even that didn’t change our behavior at home. My parents handled my earnings, which, they told me then, went into stocks. Of course, back then, I didn’t really understand or cared what that meant.”
Alfonso didn’t stay in the biz, not only because he was shy but also because of the “schedule and all the waiting on the set; ‘di ko kinaya. All of us siblings actually prefer being behind-the-scenes.”
At the time of this writing, Alfonso was living with his Lola Nena. He was a natural choice, being Liezl’s only son, and also because he and his Lola always got along and he never had a problem staying in her house. “I used to tease her about being her favorite grandson. She had no choice, since I’m her only grandson,” he says with a grin.
Living simply and working for privileges and treats are the values he wants to pass on to his kids. “Hopefully by then, I’d be super successful. I would like my kids to work for their stuff. And even if I’m into technology, I wouldn’t want my kids to be raised by technology, you know, stuck to a tablet, mobile phone, or game console. There’s time for that, and there’s time for your family and friends. I don’t like how some people are connected yet disconnected."
Alissa is more like Liezl
For the youngest child, Alissa, being home with her Dad means, “Basically, taking the role of my Mom, making sure the house smells good (my Mom always wanted the house smelling good) because we have dogs, making sure the house is clean and there’s no dust. Little things like that, making sure the bed sheets have been changed, replenishing the tissue paper. That’s what I’m doing to help my Dad since he’s usually out working. I take care of the house. It’s not that difficult since I learned everything that I needed to know from my Mom. In a weird way, I guess she prepared me for this.”
Alissa, Albert says, is more like Liezl—laidback, and not easily stressed. She agrees with this, adding with a laugh, “I’m sure my sister said that she’s like Papa. I’m like Mama. We got along really well, too. Actually, she really was my best friend and we did everything together.”
Growing up the ‘baby’ of the family meant “I was everyone’s utusan when we were younger,” she laughs, adding how it’s great now because she has so many people looking after her. “I have a lot of people to look up to and ask for help when I need it.”
Cooking is something Albert has always enjoyed, and the kids attest to his being formidable at the grill. He waves off the idea of having studied any of it. “It’s a skill I was always interested in, even as a kid. When we were in the US, I was the family cook. Later on, and even now, I still refer to cookbooks and YouTube videos.” A sizable barbeque set-up has a special place in the terrace and garden. The kids love his “super good” Chicken Inasal and Special Ribs. Albert adds, “I also do a mean steak. When the meat is of good quality, you only need salt and pepper.”
Looking around him, he says, “We bought this house for our family, so I can’t imagine selling it. We’re doing some renovations, the garden and lanai would be perfect for the grandchildren, too.”
That’s something he can look forward to. Right now, his main focus is his family. Albert manages the family and his life without Liezl, as he says, “que sera, sera, but with pride.”
Since the first publishing of this story in Working Mom magazine's June 2016 issue, a lot has happened to this family. The handsome and youthful Albert Martinez became a grandfather. His beautiful stylist daughter Alyanna got married to photographer Roy Macam; they tied the knot twice—first in San Francisco, California in August 2016 then a wintry wedding in The Ridge in Lake Tahoe, California in December 2016. In January this year, Alyanna and Roy welcomed a baby girl whom they named Adalynn Riley.
Albert had been busy working on several projects in the past couple of years. He was part of TV shows FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, La Luna Sangre, and The Good Son. His latest teleserye, Bagani, with Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil will end this month. Yesterday, Albert—alongside other local showbiz icons Sharon Cuneta, Aga Muhlach, Christopher de Leon, Lea Salonga, Nora Aunor, and Vilma Santos—was recognized by History Con, Asia's biggest entertainment convention, for his significant contribution to the Philippine culture.
Albert's one and only son, Alfonso, now calls himself a "self proclaimed gaming maven and love doctor," according to his Instagram account. Apart from being a dog lover like his sisters, he is also into cars and loves going on off-roading adventures.
The youngest, Alissa, is a fur mom, who runs her own business called Poppyluca. She sells "thoughtfully designed" bandanas, collars, and leashes for dogs, which come in a wide array of colors and prints. Alissa also loves traveling, often going on fun trips with her boyfriend of about eight years, Paulus Reyes.
Butter wearing the Brady Velvet Collar?? shop this and the rest of the collection through www.poppyluca.com ?? linked on our bio ?? . . . . . #dogsph #puppyph #corgiph #yorkieph #collarph #chowchowph #goldenretrieverph #puppiesph #shihtzuph #poodleph #huskyph #shnauzerph #puppiesph #dogaccessoriesph #cuteph #dogph #dogcollarph #dogleashph #leatherph #supportlocalph
Photography by Roy Macam
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Cover story by Mitzi Duque Ruiz
Styling by Alyanna Martinez-Macam
Makeup by Jigs Mayuga, Thea Dionisio, and Clarisse Anne Juan
Hairstyling by Gerald Magtibay
Prop styling by Angelique Abesamis-Castro