EXCLUSIVE: Andi Eigenmann Steps Away From The Limelight To Live The Life She Wants Now
Ilocos Sur, December 2018—When Andi Eigenmann asked to be brought to the city pharmacy, she didn't explain much. She kept her boyfriend Philmar Alipayo, who was in town with her for a professional surfing competition, in total oblivion of the big news hurtling towards him faster than the waves he was trained to ride.
There, Andi took a pregnancy test. The little lines that appeared were unmistakable and they carried huge implications—she was expecting, and more importantly, she was excited.
Andi couldn't wait to be a mother of two.
Blazer by Zara and swimsuit by I Love Koi
"I told Philmar the [pregnancy test] results meant that I was pregnant. He couldn't react. He had a straight face. He was waiting for me to react—whether I was happy about it or not. He didn't know! When I started laughing, then he showed his excitement," recalls Andi in the present, her hands resting on her growing belly, caressing her little girl with the most gentle of strokes.
One look at her, and it couldn't be clearer: she's embraced motherhood for all that it is, choosing to see it as a blessing above all else.
Six months after her big discovery and eight years since she first became a parent, Andi opens up on Metro.Style about pregnancy, changing priorities, soul-searching, and the lifelong journey of motherhood that's as much her children's as it is hers.
"There's no right or wrong when it comes to the way you're supposed to go through life, and when or how you're supposed to have children shouldn't have a formula"
Dress by Yong Davalos
"Being a mother is one of the most beautiful things a woman can experience in life, and there's nothing to be ashamed of. Being a mother changes you in ways that you couldn't imagine and I just think it's such a beautiful thing," begins Andi.
The realization is one she admits to having only recently, now that she's become a more emotionally and mentally mature woman. What were once insecurity and doubt in her decisions have completely transformed into self-trust and readiness to face life's events head on, including caring for another child—a second daughter, to be specific.
Now on her third trimester, Andi continues to reflect on the differences between her pregnancies; confidence, she says, is the key distinction.
For one thing, she remembers what it was like to be expecting at 21 and wrongly allowing her critics—many of whom were faceless strangers condemning her online—to diminish her self-worth and convince her that she was ill-equipped to be a great mother even before she had given birth.
Today, she knows better than to listen to detractors and is able to hold her head up high wherever, whenever, and around whoever.
"Being a mother changes you in ways that you couldn't imagine and I just think it's such a beautiful thing"
Learning from the past, Andi declares, "As long as I choose kindness and I do everything with love and the best intentions, then I'm on the right track. There's no right or wrong when it comes to the way you're supposed to go through life, and when or how you're supposed to have children shouldn't have a formula."
"One of the things that added to my sadness in the past was always being made to feel like I had no right to celebrate or be proud that I was a mom, since it happened during a time that I didn't expect or before I got married. Now that I'm older, I know myself more. I am confident enough to say that I'm a good person. Just because my life didn't happen the same way it happened to others, it doesn't mean that I'm wrong," she continues with a tone of self-assurance.
Her philosophy is simple: if her kids turn out to be responsible, good-natured people, then that's ultimately all that matters. Everything else—most especially unsolicited opinions and anonymous insults—is just background noise to be muted and ignored.
"They key is to never dictate who or what your children should become, as long as you fill them with a lot of love and kindness, you're on the right track," she says.
"Just because my life didn't happen the same way it happened to others, it doesn't mean that I'm wrong"
As confident as Andi is in her own child-rearing abilities, one thing that's also eased the stresses of pregnancy is having a solid support system surrounding her—a crucial element that was missing from her first pregnancy.
Andi's mom, award-winning actress Jaclyn Jose, has been an awesome grandma—albeit one who has a tendency to spoil her apos—while Philmar is attentive to her needs and continuously affectionate, and her friends have been the best cheerleaders she could ever ask for.
Altogether, all of it has shown Andi a much lighter, more rewarding side to motherhood. Though the role certainly still has its challenges, this time around, Andi is undoubtedly a happier mommy, overall.
"Now that I'm older, I know myself more. I am confident enough to say that I'm a good person"
Yet in the midst of all the love she's received since sharing her second pregnancy, there's been one person Andi has truly depended on: her first daughter, seven-year-old Ellie, who's been been a huge source of reassurance.
"Ellie was a big help in making myself feel secure in a sense that, no matter what happens or if I suddenly feel so unsure of where I am in life or what I'm doing, seeing and watching Ellie—the way I've molded her—makes me feel like I can do this. Imagine where I was back then, and now I'm more [confident]," Andi describes.
"It makes me feel proud and secure, that even if I don't necessarily have everything in control yet, knowing that my first child was a success, maybe this time around, there's less to worry about," she adds.
"No matter what happens or if I suddenly feel so unsure of where I am in life or what I'm doing, seeing and watching Ellie—the way I've molded her—makes me feel like I can do this"
The beach-loving little girl is articulate, imaginative, sensitive, and kind, and while Andi jokes about not wanting to take full credit for how Ellie turned out to be, she doesn't hesitate to suggest that a big chunk of her morals and values are a result of her molding.
Having done a fine job with Ellie, Andi does feel that she'll be able to raise a little sister to her who'll surely be just as caring and an overall good kid.
To prove this, Andi proudly shares just how well Ellie is handling the upcoming arrival of her baby sister. Most children used to being the apple of their parents' eyes might become jealous and temperamental, but not Ellie. She has expressed wanting to play an active role in caring for the baby to come, and becoming a big sibling to a baby sister is dream come true for her, too!
"[People say] it's inevitable for her to be troubled because her dad and I don't live under the same roof. And I have to politely disagree, because the bond I have with my daughter is something they can't dictate for me"
Sweater by Mango
Andi laughs at just how many times Ellie has asked for a baby sister and the fact that she finally got what she has wanted for so long.
"I'm not the type of mom who necessarily treats my daughter like a princess, or that she's the center of the universe. That's not my parenting style. But at the same time, I do want her to always feel like she's the most special thing to me, so having a second child, I want it to feel like it's also for her. That's what made me really happy [about having another girl]," narrates Andi.
"Just because you're a mom doesn't mean you should forget about yourself. That's also where being a good mother comes from, right? You have to learn how to love yourself first before you can love others"
Flipping the coin, Andi also sheds some light on an often overlooked aspect of motherhood she's made sure to address from day one—the importance of not forgetting to care for one's self.
Andi doesn't deny that priorities change once a child of your own enters the picture—her travel bags are full of snacks for Ellie to keep hunger and crankiness at bay instead of a fully-equipped makeup kit, to say the least—but that should never equate to letting yourself go. Whether it's caring for your physical well-being, allowing yourself to rest, or alotting time for your hobbies, it's important to keep your own needs up high in the priority ladder.
After all, happy moms are better moms, according to Andi.
"When I had just given birth to Ellie, I really felt so down because I went to Boracay with a bunch of my friends who were celebrities. And they were all fit, whereas I was still saggy and my tummy was still soft and I wasn't in my best shape. People were saying that I was kapal to wear a bathing suit. At the time, I was affected. And then I realized that these stretch marks will never go away, so I embraced them"
Following her own advice, Andi has continued to do the things she loves; exercising and eating right (she's a vegan mom who loves to surf) are very much always in the agenda, but giving herself a wee bit of leeway when the pangs of pregnancy hit are a part of it, too.
"[Philmar and I] were constantly training, exercising, staying fit and healthy, and eating right. I really hope that he knows how it feels to be sleepy or that being lazy isn't something I'm doing on purpose. Also with the food that I've been eating; I can't help it when I'm hungry! Or when I have certain cravings, I have to satisfy those," she describes with a laugh.
At 28 years old, Andi has cultivated the brand of wisdom that only mothers have. Her dedication to family life shines big and bright despite the difficulties the responsibility has posed, a quality deserving of admiration.
"I never really thought I would inspire, so when I realized that me being vocal about loving my body helps other people be confident about their bodies, I liked it"
Dress by Bessie Besana
Imagining the future that she once only thought of as hers and hers alone, she opens up the vision with Ellie, her soon-to-be-born daughter, and Philmar too—it's a mental image of a whole, happy family.
As she thinks forward to what life might be like five, or even 10, years down the line, Andi expects to be letting go of Ellie to let her explore her own sense of self, but with one condition: she has to value education as much as mom does. Australia appeals to Andi for Ellie's college life because of its beaches, but anywhere will do, as long as she pursues what she truly loves, and takes it seriously.
And when Ellie is old enough to be on her own, Andi pictures herself living the laid-back life she has always wanted. She shares, "My goal is to be able to send her wherever she wants to study or do whatever she wants to do when she goes off to college. I see her still being the closest person to me, even if it's not physically, and she'll still be my best friend. I'll be living a peaceful life on the island, in our house, living simply, doing everything on our own, trying to save the planet."
"Being a mom made me even more compassionate. It makes it easier for me to understand where every other person is coming from. That's why I have this tattoo; it looks like a wave, but it's a Polynesian symbol of grace. If you have it tattooed on yourself, it's a promise to live your life without judging others and treating them like we're all just human beings trying to live"
As for the baby girl still on her way to making her big entrance in this world, Andi toys with the idea of enrolling her in a reputable school in Siargao, should there be one established by then. The Visayan island is where she and Philmar are currently based, and island life—something that's contributed a ton to Andi's deepest moments of successful soul-searching—is what she wishes to maintain even when she's much older.
But all of this is a long way away from now, and right now, Andi is a hundred percent content about where she is.
She's made motherhood her full-time occupation, setting aside any plans of re-joining showbusiness as of today, to concentrate on nurturing her growing family. Trading in klieg lights for the sun's rays and intricate set designs for the wide, open stretches of shore she's come to call home, Andi couldn't be more confident in the choices she's made.
Motherhood suits her, and it's an ocean that she's now able to navigate with ease and grace from the horizon to the shore, and back again.
"I was a completely different person seven years ago. I hadn't really discovered as much things about myself as now, and I'm more confident in who I am and what I'm doing. With everything around me, I know myself more than I ever did so I can back myself up!"
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography and layout by Gee Plamenco, Jr.
Creative direction by Butchie Peña
Sittings editor: Geolette Esguerra
Makeup by Nikki Duque
Hairstyling by Brix Batalla
Styling by Kat Cruz-Villanueva and Hillary Lee of Styledit Group
Video producer: Joan Ko
Videography: Gian Escamillas
Shoot assistant: Cara Tirona
Shot on location at Discovery Primea, Makati