Real Talk

All The World’s a Stage: Shining the Spotlight on the SB19 Moms

Mahalima’s moms Aldrene Stephanie Santos, Grace Nase, Mylene Ajero, and Gemma De Dios get real about handling their sons’ rise to stardom in the music industry.

The names Pablo Nase, Josh Cullen Santos, Ken Suson, Stell Ajero, and Justin de Dios have been synonymous with Pinoy Pop (P-Pop). Mahalima (Mahal Ka Ng Lima)—also known as the group SB19—has paved the way for many P-Pop artists, who are not only making waves in the Philippine scene but also worldwide. The best part is that SB19 has their moms backing them up!

The success of these boys has not only put the spotlight on them but on their families as well. Like their sons, moms Aldrene Stephanie Santos, Grace Nase, Mylene Ajero, and Gemma De Dios suddenly found themselves thrust into the limelight—from managing their schedules to representing their boys in some events.

But the moms, dubbed by fans as MahaliMoms, admitted it isn’t always so easy.

The Bond Between Mother and Son

If there is one thing these moms have in common, it’s that they maintain close ties with their sons despite them juggling busy schedules and being away from home. Aldrene, Josh Cullen’s mother, shares that her son makes sure to enjoy her cooking when he’s at home. In Gemma’s case, Justin rarely goes home because of their packed schedule, but they are constantly in touch.

Meanwhile, Mylene regards her relationship with Stell to have gotten tighter after he moved away from home.

“Compared to the years before, masasabi ko na kahit hindi kami madalas magkasama ngayon, mas tight ‘yung relationship namin bilang mag-ina,” Mylene shares. “Before, may mga seryosong times na hindi ko na o-open sa kanya dahil struggling pa lang sila sa career nila.”

Grace already knew of Pablo’s love for music and performing from when he was young, but it was during Pablo’s college years when his family realized he had a gift for songwriting.

Grace Nase, Pablo's mom
Grace Nase, Pablo’s mom

Gemma said that she and her husband had initial hesitations when Justin told them he wanted to try to make it as a P-Pop idol.

Mylene shared that Stell gave up his work in a fast food chain just to continue his dream of being a performer. At that time, Stell was also balancing his life as a student and as a member of the dance group Se-Eon.

Kailangan may i-give up ka dyan kasi hindi kakayanin ng katawan mo kasi ang dami mong ginagawa,” she shares of her conversation with Stell. “So nung gi-nive up niya yung work niya, that’s the time na realize ko na ah, ito talaga ang gusto niya.”

And the rest would see the boys train and work hard to become the group they are today.

Mylene Ajero, Stell's mom
Mylene Ajero, Stell’s mom

Adjusting to Attention

As SB19’s popularity rose at the height of the pandemic, all four moms suddenly found themselves mingling with the group’s fans—known as A’TIN. Gemma admitted it took quite a while before they got used to the attention.

Siguro pagdating sa do’s and don’ts sa pagkakasalimuha sa fans, naging challenge sa amin iyon,” Gemma points out. “Ako, hindi ko alam kung paano sa simula makikipag-interact, makisalamuha sa kanila. Ano nga ba ang dapat hindi ko i-share at ano dapat i-secret lang?

There were even instances during concerts when they could not leave immediately because fans would swarm them. “Bago kami makalabas, parang aabutin ka ng ilang oras kasi ang daming sumasalubong para mag pa-picture,” Grace says.

Pero okay lang sa amin ‘yun kasi iyon lang ang opportunity na para maipakita sa A’TIN na we are thankful din na nandoon sila para sa anak namin.”

“I know how to handle them in a way na dahil nasa showbiz din ‘yung ibang [members] ng family, medyo sanay na rin kami sa showbiz,” she explains, referring to her nephew and niece, cousins Ace and Camille Santos, who are making waves in the music scene as Ocho the Bullet and Carrot Mayor.

Pero blunt ako na sabihin [kung ano ang] hindi pwede like grabbing pictures from our social media accounts and sharing them. Alam nila ‘yun. I give them their dos and don’ts”.

Gemma De Dios, Justin's mom
Gemma De Dios, Justin’s mom

The A’TIN Fandom is Their Adopted Family

These days, the Mahalimoms themselves have a packed schedule. On top of running their respective businesses and attending to their families’ needs, they have also entered the world of vlogging. They have been documenting invites from A’TIN fandoms, reactions to their sons’ videos, and their family lives.

But beyond their love for their kids, the moms also found new children in the A’TIN, who have stuck by SB19 since the beginning. “Simula’t sapul kasi they have been supporting the boys, as in no holds barred,” Aldrene shares of the fandom.

Kung minsan ‘yung ibang obligasyon namin sila gumagawa,” she adds. “They give out ‘yung mga kailangan ng mga anak namin para lang maangat ‘yung mga career nila. That was before when they were struggling. Kaya mula noon hanggang ngayon nandiyan pa din yung mga tao. That’s the reason why naging family sila sa amin. We treat them as a family because they treat us like a family.”

Moms Will Always be Moms

Although SB19’s schedule has been so busy, they still try to squeeze in quality time with their moms and families. Aldrene explains that Josh would take her and his sister to a day of wellness or sometimes bond over grocery runs.

Mylene and Grace would spend time with Pablo and Stell by cooking and enjoying food with them, while Gemma would talk to Justin inside his room or when on the road together.

With their sons’ accomplishments, touring around the world, scoring endorsements, and running their own company 1Z Entertainment, there is no way but up. Keeping the boys grounded is not a problem for Aldrene, Grace, Gemma, and Mylene.

Andito lang kami sa side para mag-guide sa kanila always,” Mylene shares. “Pero syempre mga anak namin sila. Alam namin kung gaano nila kamahal ang kapwa nila. Siguro bilang magulang, naituro naman namin or naipakita naman namin sa kanila kung paano ‘yun. Nandito lang kami. Ita-tap lang namin pag may mali.”

And just like any mom, they wish nothing but the best for their children. “Alam naman natin
nothing can stop them from reaching for the stars now. Pero syempre ‘yung health nila, yung pagod nila, doon kami nag-aalala,” Aldrene adds.

Aldrene Santos, Josh's mom
Aldrene Santos, Josh’s mom

As for Grace and Gemma, all they want is for the group to be simply happy.

“We wish for all their wishes to come true. Lalo ‘yung goal nila as artists na lalo pa maipakilala ‘yung culture ng Philippines. Pati ‘yung music ng Philippines sa ibang bansa,” Grace says.

Judging by the recognition that SB19 has been getting, there is no doubt that the future is bright for the group, their moms, and for P-Pop.

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