Empress Schuck-Guingona: Her Tale of Two Cities
Actress, model, and the empress of drama, Empress Schuck-Guingona shares her love for two cities and being a first-time mom.
It’s evident how much motherhood has changed Empress Schuck-Guingona. Her Instagram is filled with family photos and selfies with her daughter, Athalia. Despite growing up in Manila and working in the entertainment industry, she now lives a much simpler provincial life. In our latest Spotlight story, we got to know more about the young, fresh-faced mother and her family.
Aside from work and motherhood, Empress Schuck-Guingona supports her husband, Vino, in his endeavors. “Vino is an aspiring public servant here in Zamboanga, who desires to continue his father’s legacy in public service. His late father, Nonong Guingona, was a 3-term councilor of Zamboanga City. And he saw his dad’s genuine love for the Zamboangueños. This inspired him to also run for local office and serve his kababayans. He would like to continue championing causes for senior citizens, health and fitness, and local tourism,” she tells us.
“Additionally, together with my partners, we just launched last September our local skincare brand called, Numi (pronounced as new me). Numi is an all-natural, vegan, and chemical-free skincare brand that’s cruelty-free and eco-friendly. It’s perfect for all skin types, including pregnant and nursing moms, since it’s gentle, safe, and effective.”
A Healthy Work-Life Balance
As a busy mom who wears many hats, Empress shares how she gets things done. “To be really sure that I get to make time for everyone and everything, I write down my day-to-day schedule. I also set alarms for every reminder because I tend to be forgetful. Before I head to bed, I will plan everything that I have to do for tomorrow first. I ask Vino about his schedule then I adjust to it if I can and vice-versa. Then I will align everything to make the most out of our day. So that we won’t have to sacrifice any schedule as much as possible.”
“It’s also a big relief that I’m not alone in doing all these things. I’m lucky enough to have our house angels at home to help me look after Athalia and the house when I can’t.”
Striving to Be Her Daughter’s Role Model
Being a mother is definitely not easy—especially when you’re an actress simultaneously running a business. “There are times when I just want to be a full-time mom and dedicate my life to Athalia even if it means quitting my job and leaving everything behind. [Being a mom] made me selfless because I can’t make choices based only on my best interest anymore. As a mother, you always put your child first. Pack her suitcase first, let her sleep first, or ditch your designer handbags over baby backpacks. You spend more time dressing up your child than dressing up yourself because you feel this great joy when people appreciate your child. And you don’t care what they say about you anymore.”
“Then there’s the endless patience,” Empress Schuck-Guingona adds. “When kids don’t obey, it is so easy to blow up. But I don’t like what it does to us. I want us to always have a healthy discussion even if it takes so much time. There are moments when you’re about to explode but giving your child a peaceful environment is more important. Athalia teaches me that I can make better choices in life. And I should be a better person because I know that I will be her role model so I need to make it right.”
Empress Schuck-Guingona on Having Two Homes
“I grew up in Manila so I’m used to everything there. It’s a big city where I can do and get countless things. All my friends, family, and even my work are there. It’s where my life is basically. I love that Manila is my comfort zone,” she says.
“On the other hand, Zamboanga is the total opposite of my life and what I have in Manila. But it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. Living in Zamboanga gives me a different comfort, pleasure, and joy. My lifestyle is much simpler and it humbles me. I like that I get to learn a new dialect, Chavacano, and explore more about the beauty that Zamboanga has to offer. And hopefully, I can share all of this with everyone who is not so familiar with Zamboanga.”
“We have good food, too!” she tells us proudly. “Seafood and Tausug food are a must-try. We have nice islands and beaches that deserve attention as well. Plus talented Zamboangeños I had the chance to work with like our photographer Sefi Curada, hairstylist Allie Ramoros, and makeup artist Vincci Descalzo.”
The Beauty of Yakan
Empress Schuck-Guingona continues to educate us on the culture of Zamboanga. “I’ve been a fan of local and native products and I make sure to always get souvenirs from every province I visit. Like Dumaguete, Samar, and many others. In Zamboanga, Yakan and their weaving is an indigenous local Philippine treasure. The traditional Yakan art of weaving originated from the island of Basilan but also settled in Zamboanga City at the Yakan Village.”
“Yakan hand-loomed fabrics are woven using a backstrap loom and are very delicate. Usually, 1 meter takes around 5 to 7 days to be completed. They’re known for their use of bold colors, nature-inspired patterns together with geometric patterns. It was Ate Evelynda who sewed for us and is a fourth-generation Yakan weaver. In the 70s, the military forced them out of Basilan and brought them to Zamboanga where many settled in what is now called the Yakan Village. These are just some of the many qualities that I love about our city, Zamboanga. I’m just so proud.”
Navigating Through a Pandemic
Like many first-time moms, Empress Schuck-Guingona had her fair share of challenges while going through the pandemic.
“At first, the thrill of getting to experience a total lockdown for the first time in our life was definitely there. The opportunity to be together with family every day for months without having to go to work or deal with any responsibilities felt like a free vacation and a pause in our stressful lives. Who wouldn’t want that unlimited time with their family, right? But when the situation got worse and lockdowns kept on extending, that’s when it hit us that this is going to change our lives and that we should already decide on how we are going to survive this.”
Getting through the Anxiety
“There were plans that got canceled. We worried about Athalia’s education. You can’t even go out of the house so there was no outlet for us to release all the tension, stress, anxiety, and depression. But at the same time, you can’t lose yourself because you have a child and you need to provide for her. We are just so blessed that nobody in our family got sick. That’s what kept me going. Until Vino and I found ourselves getting closer to God. We rested in His words and never felt better. It was also when we decided to get married because of God’s impact on us. With His grace, everything fell into place.”
In the beginning, Empress shares that Athalia wasn’t as affected by the pandemic. “But eventually, she started getting sad and curious. We became honest and explained to her what COVID is. Giving her hope and assurance is important so she wouldn’t be overwhelmed. She quickly understood but still gets sad every now and then when she misses going to school and her favorite place, Kidzoona. We had to improvise some games, materials, and activities. She’s an energetic kid so she always moves around and even climbs the stairs without fear! Without gadgets and playmates, she’s really good at entertaining herself. We immediately enrolled Athalia when her school offered virtual classes. This made her really happy.”
Similar to many moms who had to shift their kids to online schooling, Empress Schuck-Guingona went through some difficulties as well. “It’s a good thing Athalia is in kinder level pa lang so everything is still easy. Her school provides all the materials and activity sheets so she just answers during class and I guide her. I still don’t have the perfect formula on how to handle our home-schooled daughter because I get impatient especially when she’s not in the mood and doesn’t like to participate.”
“I think what I realized is as adults, we already have mindsets, life experiences, lessons, and goals,” Empress admits. “We’ve overcome multiple challenges in life that made our expectations high. These things molded us. So most of the time we don’t notice that we are also expecting that of our children, who are very fragile and inexperienced. We expect that they will perform as professionally as we want them to, to take the class seriously, and so we lecture them about life.”
“But they can’t even absorb that yet because these kids are still in the process of understanding themselves and their emotions. And here we are expecting them to match our level. It’s so easy to react but we should always try to understand and listen to them. Try to see where they’re coming from. And sometimes when you give them the opportunity to explain their side, you will be amazed at how much they make sense.”
Lessons from The Broken Marriage Vow
“I play the role of Grace, the secretary of David, played by Zanjoe Marudo. Grace has to provide for her family all on her own so she can’t lose her only job. That’s why when she knew about her boss’ secret affair, she played along with it and betrayed Jill (played by Jodi), the wife of David, even though she knows it will hurt her.”
“We all know the show is a remake. But the Filipino version has something new to offer just like adding exciting characters and showing Filipino culture. We also featured local products, fashion, and beautiful destinations in Baguio.”
“Families can learn that making a bad choice over temporary satisfaction can ruin everything in your life. Not just your precious family but also your work, friends, and reputation. When you don’t put God in the center of your relationship and life, temptations will find you.”
Empress Schuck-Guingona looks forward to the end of the pandemic so she and her husband can have their daughter experience new things again. “As parents, we want Athalia to grow up putting God in the center of her life and that will be enough to give us the security that she’s in the right place. We can only hope for the best but we know that we can’t dictate her future. Only God can tell her purpose in life. Even though Vino wants her to be a tennis player. Haha!”
“We’re only here to guide and not force her to do anything she doesn’t feel like doing. As early as now, I’m already training her that she always has a choice but she has to face the consequences of her choices if there are any. I want her to feel heard and know that she has a voice and she can be her own person. Hopefully, with that training, she will have smarter choices for herself when she grows up. Parents won’t be there forever but recognizing God as savior is eternal. It will always lead them to the right path and never go astray if they only cling to His words.”
This year is definitely exciting for Empress and her family as they are hoping to have their second baby. “I am glad that Athalia is also looking forward to it. I can’t believe she’s ready to be an Ate. That was one of the signs I was waiting for. Because who would want to go through nine months of hardship again, right? Talk about weight gain and sleepless nights. But I know the reward is worth it. Knowing that my family will grow and will have so much fun together. That’s what I live for.”
Words GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Photography SEFI CUADRA
Makeup VINCE DESCALZO
Special thanks to BECKY AGUILA