Engagement And Fatherhood By Adoption: You Haven’t Heard Paolo Bediones’ Real Story Yet
The news anchor puts the facts straight in this exclusive Father’s Day interview
We all go through life’s seasons – some of them uplifting, while some will hit you in the gut like a hard punch, you fall to the ground. Many times, you just move along with the flow until you stumble upon something so life-changing it alters your course.
News anchor and host Paolo Bediones’ life resembled something like this many moons ago, until in 2014, an online controversy veered him away from what he thought was the kind of life he wanted.
“When you’re in showbiz it's like a rat race, like on a treadmill running and chasing, but you're not getting anywhere. Yes, you’re getting richer, yes, you have your millions, yes, you have your properties, but you're chasing. It's tiring. I’ve stopped chasing,” the 47-year-old tells OneLife.ph in an exclusive interview.
“When I encountered difficulties in 2014 and that controversy happened in my career, I felt like it was actually an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate not just what I value, but also the things that I would like to retain in my life, and things that I just had to, for lack of a better word, prune, and get rid of.
“I believe that people go through several iterations of themselves. I feel like I was stuck in a particular iteration that didn't allow me to grow and mature, and again that's a result of decisions that I myself made. This iteration is something that I'm very happy with because life [has] become so much simpler.”
By “this,” Paolo is of course talking about his life now as a father to baby daughter Avery and as a lifetime partner to actress Lara Morena.
Finding “the one”
Paolo says he and Lara – Mylene in real life – had known each other for 15 years before they got together six years ago.
“It just evolved and matured, and it reached that point wherein our discussions would now go toward, ‘Let’s start a family.’ Of course, I want to be able to fulfill that dream of mine, which is to start a family. It was a natural progression for me, and I think leaving show business allowed me to put that into perspective,” he says of his six-year hiatus.
Contrary to initial reports that have come out, however, Paolo says he has not gone down on one knee to ask for Lara’s hand in marriage – at least not yet.
“It’s funny because people say nga na we’re engaged. Spoiler alert, there hasn’t been any proposal yet,” he clarifies.
“I just decided to let people think na, ‘O sige, they’re engaged,’ because they see that I wear a ring. [If] I say anything about it, it’s gonna spoil any surprise.
“[But] For all intents and purposes, we are. It is headed there.
“We’ve been through so many ups and downs: we’ve been through the worst, we’ve been through the best. When you look at someone and you actually cannot imagine going through this life without that person, then you know that that’s the person for you. We make a great team in so many ways.”
Meeting baby Avery
Paolo says fatherhood had come to him in a most unexpected moment, admitting it was something “I had been consciously denying to myself that I wanted” for the longest time.
“There are some circumstances that don’t really need to be expounded on, but let’s just say that we knew that if the baby were with us, the baby would have a better future. It was really about that and starting our own family, and if you believe in signs, then maybe that was a sign at that point,” he adds.
Paolo reveals the whole thing happened during the lockdown. “Mylene had a couple of relatives over. The baby stayed with us because that time it was the lockdown e. At first, she would stay in the living room with the other relatives and then parang there was one time that we were just playing around in the room, and I was still trying to make kapa what it's like.
“There's this one time that I put her to sleep, napatulog siya beside me, and I was just looking at her and I started having these thoughts.
“Several weeks later when she was between me and Mylene [in bed], we just literally looked at each other and we just nodded. ‘Yun na ‘yon. We knew what it meant. We knew that we didn't have to elaborate any further. For me it was a really beautiful moment. The baby had no idea that her future was being decided upon at that point in time.
“It was such an important milestone in our relationship that we knew, this baby right there between us was exactly what we’ve been praying for. And it happened really quick. The decision was something that was so natural.”
A certified girldad
Paolo says he used to wonder what the fuss was about and why his parent-friends would post so many of their kids’ photos online.
“I get it. I get it now. Before, I was like, ‘Why am I looking through this?’ I never really thought that I would one day be comfortable holding a baby, comfortable changing her diapers, comfortable putting her to sleep. And here I am being as girldad as I can [be].
“I was pleasantly surprised. I was ecstatic actually when she started learning how to call me ‘Papa.’”
Baby Avery, now one year and six months old, certainly got her Papa wrapped around her tiny finger.
“They're just so sharp and just so intelligent and sometimes I feel like they know that they can manipulate you. She will hold my face and look at me and say, ‘Papa, Papa.’ And then she'll say something like ‘ngiyaw ngiyaw,’ which means, ‘I want to watch 44 Cats.’ She’ll go ‘coco,’ which means put on CoComelon. She will get your face and cup it in her hands and look at me straight in my eyes and I'm like, ‘Wow, that's pretty sharp!’”
The adjustment was more apparent in Paolo learning to do daddy duties than in anything else. Besides feeding baby Avery – who, by the way, eats everything, including vegetables – and putting her to sleep, Paolo’s biggest challenge initially was figuring out diapers.
“The diapers – that’s something that took me a while to understand. And to think I find it easy to tinker with a lot of technical stuff. I can figure things out. But a piece of fabric with some sticky straps… it took me a while. And I think Mylene intentionally did not teach me, so there would be nights when my side of the bed would be wet because I put it on wrong. There are times that she'll be out doing the grocery and I'll be at home so I'm left with the baby and she’ll do a number two, so I gotta figure that out as well.”
Loving Avery like his own
With marriage on the horizon, many have been wondering about the couple’s decision to take in a baby instead of having their own.
“People ask me, ‘Don't you envy other dads who have their own flesh and blood?’ Envy is not the word.
“I cannot imagine loving [Avery] any less [just] because she's not of my blood. For me, that doesn't make sense. And I guess you have to be in my shoes to be able to actually understand that, because I haven't experienced what it's like to have my own flesh and blood. But, having said that, with the kind of intense love and affection and attention that I'm giving to our baby now, I can't imagine it's any different, honestly.”
Paolo adds that they will go through the adoption process in due time to put everything in its proper place.
“Of course, we [will] be going through all the legal steps that need to be taken, and it's going to be a long journey, but we're willing to go through it.”
As for having kids of their own, Paolo answers very candidly: “Mylene and I are the same age – I think that pretty much answers the question. But that doesn't mean that we haven't been trying while we were together. We've been at it, [and] we've been looking at different options as well.
“To be honest, right now, Mylene and I are trying in vitro, and we do have a couple of 5-day-old embryos just waiting for a surrogate. So, I could, one day, have three children.
“Whether it’s something that I'll experience in my lifetime in some way or another – maybe with the advances of science – who knows? Anything can happen.”
Fatherhood becomes Paolo
One year into his new role, Paolo says being ‘Papa’ to Avery has made him realize a few things about himself.
“I'm a softie. I'm so protective. Here I am being the disciplinarian, but at the same time trying to squeeze as much affection as I can get from the baby. I learned that I'm actually made for this. Once I embraced it, it became such a part of me and now I can't imagine living another kind of life.
“I find that I’m even more inspired to work, to get up in the morning, to pay attention to my health. Let me tell you, once that beautiful girl came into our lives, I found myself trying to make sure that I could chase her, that I could carry her, that my back won’t be hurting as I bend over pick her up. It’s really put a lot of things into perspective and put a lot of things in its proper place, I feel.
“Even the way you look at money now is so different. Before, you want to get a new phone, you get a new phone. Or a new musical instrument, or a laptop. Now, you always equate it with something like, ‘Ilang gatas din ‘yan,’ ‘Ilang diapers din ‘yan,’ ‘Ilang Cerelac din ‘yan.’ It becomes a little more concrete that whatever you're spending could actually go to this. That changed so much. I've become a little thriftier, I guess. A little more conscious of how I spend.
“Now, you're working hard, you have a goal to secure the future of Avery. Every time I feel that joy in my heart, I look at Mylene and I go, ‘I want two more.’ I know na puyat tayo. I know that you don't get to rest. I'm doing the morning show ‘Frontline Sa Umaga,’ our call time is 5:00 AM, which means we have to be up before 4:30. I don't get enough sleep so more often than not, when I'm on air at 6:00 AM, kulang ako sa tulog noon, but what motivates you to just give your all is, it's a job.”
Back on TV
Paolo was born for the stage – this he knew as early as 13 years old.
“I would hold the shampoo bottle in my hand and I would look at the mirror and I would say, ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Binibining Pilipinas!’” he shares. It was a dream he made come true in his early twenties, hosting shows such as “Gameplan,” “Extra! Extra!” and “Survivor Philippines” on GMA, and “Aksyon” and “Rescue 5” on TV5. And, like he visualized, he did host the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant 8 times total. He became one of the most sought-after TV hosts in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
Understandably, there was more than just a little regret when he took a break from his show following a controversy. Nonetheless, he believed television was in his destiny, so when he got a call to anchor TV5’s Frontline Sa Umaga, which premiered in May 2021, he said yes right away.
“When a blessing like this comes your way, you just grab it. You don't ask too many questions.
“I know that a lot of people wrote me off, a lot of people were already saying, ‘Laos na ‘yan, wala na yan.’ Not many people have a second chance and that's exactly what's been given to me.
With a new show, a growing family, and a happily ever after in the offing, what does this TV comeback mean to Paolo?
“I've always said that coming back to television was something that I visualized. Even during the darkest moments of my time wherein I thought there's no way I could go back, there was always that sliver of hope that, yeah, there might be a way, there might be a time. I didn't know how I would get there – I didn't know what I needed to do to get there, I didn't know when it would happen – but I've always had it in me.
“I don't know how long this turn is going to take, I don't know how long this opportunity is going to last, but I'm going to make sure that I make the most out of it and I give my all each and every day.”
For Paolo, this renewed trust in him “means [that] when God puts a desire in your heart, do whatever it takes to pursue it as long as the intention is pure. It means prayer works.
“It means never let go of your dreams.”