Claudine Barretto: On the Children She Chose to Raise

Claudine Barretto gets candid with Modern Parenting about life as a single mother of four and returning to showbiz full-time.

Claudine Barretto was no doubt a household name, especially in the 90s. After all, she grew up in the public eye ever since she started her career as a mainstay of Ang TV. She also tugged hearts in roles such as Bing in Home Along da Riles, Via in Mula sa Puso, and movie roles such as Carla in Anak, and Jenny in Milan. She became one of the country’s top actresses, earning the monicker Optimum Star with movies, endorsements, and other TV shows under her belt.

Claudine, Sabina, Quia, and Noah in H&M

However, it all changed when Claudine traded the limelight to settle down and become a mother. Although her marriage didn’t work out with actor Raymart Santiago, Claudine is happily tending to the needs of her kids Sabina, Santino, Quia, and Noah. In fact, during her photo shoot with Modern Parenting, it was clear that her kids are her priority. She would check on them in between takes. Meanwhile, her eldest — Sabina — looked after her two younger siblings.

On dating her children

With two teens, a tween, and a preschooler, one might say that Claudine’s ever-changing schedule makes it a challenge to look after all four of them alone. But she has mastered it.

“I think I’ve already perfected that part in balancing two sets of kids. Because I have the teenagers: Sabina is 19 and Santino is 16. And then I have the little ones, Quia who just turned eight, and Noah is four years old,” Claudine enumerates.

One of the secrets she discovered in spending time with her children is to separately date them.

“There are days that it’s just Sabina and me, Santino and me, or the two big ones. And then the other times it’s Quia and me only or Noah and me, or the two kids. So I think I’ve already perfected and maintained that kind of balance.”

Claudine Barretto
Claudine in Dona Lim

When it comes to being a mother, Claudine describes herself as a “cool mom.”

“I never show them when I feel down or weak. I’m always cheerful, I’m always smiling, I always show them that,” Claudine explains. “When I go through something, we talk about it as a family even if the little ones don’t understand it. We always have that before going to sleep.”

Communication has always been important in their home. “We always make it a point that we spend time together. And we talk about what happened this week. Or what’s going to be happening in the weeks to come.”

Claudine and Sabina
Claudine and Sabina in H&M

On raising the children she chose

Claudine found herself becoming a mom when Sabina came into her life. At that time, she was only 24 years old. However, when she entered her 40s, she took in Quia and Noah. Although she did not bring them into the world, Claudine has always told her kids how special they are in her life.

“I always look at it as if it’s meant to be,” Claudine says of her three children. “I always tell my children that God knows how many strands of hair we have. And so even before they came into this world, He already knew that we were meant to be. Some other mother just brought them into this world but I am to bring them up.”

Claudine Barretto

While Sabina came to her at two weeks old, Quia and Noah had different stories. Quia was actually a surprise blessing in her life. “I felt it was my calling, it was for us. This was the prayer that Sabina and Santino had been praying for. With Noah, we prayed and waited for a boy.”

Claudine emphasizes it was her two eldest children who wanted to have siblings. When she took time off to tend to them, it was then she realized the blessing she got with Sabina, Quia, and Noah.

“I always think as a parent that they are mine. I don’t believe that blood is thicker than water. Because I always tell my children that we are the sons and daughters of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Noah, Claudine, and Quia
Noah, Claudine, and Quia in H&M

Using the word chosen

Adopting or taking in children has its own set of struggles because of the stigma attached to it. Claudine admits it’s quite difficult, especially with how her kids are often typecast when introduced to other families.

“I get offended when they say, ‘Ito ba yung adopted mo? Or ito ba yung ampon mo?’ I get offended by that. It strikes a nerve,” she says.

“I worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). And I was the ambassador for the longest time — since Sabina’s time. I always say that we really should stop using the word adopted and choose the word chosen. Because we chose them.”

To this day, Claudine is trying to change the perception of adoption in the country.

Claudine Barretto
Claudine in Dona Lim

Claudine Barretto is one proud mom despite the challenges

It’s evident that of all the achievements she has gotten in her life, being a mom is Claudine’s greatest award. She was one proud mother when she went up the stage last June where she marched alongside her ex-husband when Sabina and Santino got their respective honors.

With Sabina entering college and having a passion for dancing, Claudine is open to whatever her daughter plans to do. Including following her footsteps in showbiz.

“I’m very supportive in anything that they want to get into. And I’m just so proud to say that as a single mom. We all know that I raised them by myself,” she beams. “It amazes me. And up to now, I still can’t believe that Sabina took the entrance exams of all the big colleges. And in all those colleges, she’s a scholar. She can just choose any school. And I won’t have to pay for her tuition fee! That’s how smart she is.”

Santino on the other hand has been accelerated in high school. In fact, the achievements of her children made her quite emotional that day. “I’m really happy that God has blessed me with wonderful children. Despite everything I have been through – what we’ve been through as a family. It made me have this big and grateful heart towards God. Despite my marriage not working, my children are doing well.”

Claudine Barretto

Born to be a mother

Amidst the challenges she continues to face, Claudine Barretto is a strong woman and this is seen in how she has raised her children. Even with all her awards, nothing beats being a mother.

“I think I was born to be a mother. I think that’s my greatest role, my greatest achievement in life,” Claudine smiles.

“When I won an award a couple of years back for Best Actress, I said that my greatest and biggest awards are my children. And it’s true up to this day. There’s nothing in this world that I will not do for my children.”

One thing she is also proud of when it comes to her two older kids is the fact that they talk to her and have taken up the responsibility of taking care of their younger siblings when she is not around. Her daughter Sabina shared that she doesn’t have a hard time looking after Quia and Noah.

“I just watch over them, play with them. Sometimes, I also help them with their necessities like taking a shower, eating with them, or even playing with them whenever I don’t have any school work or I’m not doing anything,” Sabina shares.

Noah, Sabina, and Quia in H&M

Returning to showbiz

Now that her two eldest children are helping out with the little ones, Claudine Barretto is set to return to showbiz. Fans would be glad to know that several projects have already been lined up for her.

“I’ve already started a film, the untold story of the Jukebox Queen Imelda Papin and the Marcoses,” she reveals. “And I will be doing a soap opera with details that cannot yet be unveiled. I will also be doing another big soap opera that I feel it’s going to change the course of Philippine television. So I’m excited and that’s what I am preparing for now.”

With her return to showbiz, fans have always been wondering if she is ever open to the possibility of teaming up with counterparts like Judy Ann Santos and Gladys Reyes. Claudine said that the doors are open.

“That has always been a plan. Even when I was with Star Magic and Star Cinema, we were just really waiting for the right time and I think the right time is now.”

While she may have a tight schedule ahead of her, Claudine puts being a mother as her priority. But one thing is for sure – she is a star in her children’s eyes. And that’s all that matters to her.

Claudine Barretto
Claudine Barretto

Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Art Director MARC YELLOW

Shot on location at BRITTANY HOTEL

More stories of single moms:

Zeinab Harake: Behind the Vlog of a Single Adoptive Mom

The March of Motherhood: A Single Mom’s Life As A Soldier

Single Moms Were Brought to Tears By This Touching Story

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