Spotlight

Ice and Liza Diño Seguerra: Love Knows No Boundaries

Ice and Liza Diño Seguerra give us a glimpse into their lives as parents to daughter Amara and how they built a strong relationship as an LGBTQIA+ couple.

Ice and Liza Diño Seguerra’s journey as a couple has gone through many ups and downs. All eyes were on their decade-long relationship, making them an easy target of criticism. The challenges they faced never stopped them, instead, they strengthened them as a couple.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Modern Parenting sat down with Ice and Liza to find out how they make their family dynamics and relationship work which led to ten years of togetherness.

Love is lovelier the second time around

Singer and songwriter Ice Seguerra, who started working at 3 years old as a child actress and became an Eat Bulaga mainstay for 10 years, met entrepreneur, former actress, and government official, Liza Diño, in the late 90s.

What started as friendship soon became more than that. At that time, both were in college and were going through transitions in their respective lives. They briefly got together and dated, but eventually parted ways when Liza moved to the U.S.

In 2013, they reconnected and for them, love was definitely lovelier the second time around. Knowing that Liza was the one he wanted to be with for the rest of his life, Ice proposed to Liza in the most romantic and extravagant manner.

“He mounted a play with my classmates from UP and I, [with us] starring in it as actors,” Liza fondly recalled. “He connived with my school to make it seem like it was a fundraising event. And I thought I was the one inviting him to be a part of the play.” 

They did rehearsals for about two months and on the day itself, in front of a live audience, Liza noticed Ice was going off script towards the end of the production. “During the last scene, I wondered why I was being asked to sit in the middle. It didn’t make sense,” she remembered.

Ice popped the question. Liza said yes. And the rest is history. They got married before friends and family in San Francisco, California in 2014.

Reality bites

The road to a happy relationship was not easy. As a same-sex couple, they had more than their fair share of criticism and struggles. Ice shared that while he has learned to ignore the bashing, it’s different when he sees Liza feeling the brunt.

“Liza was rebuilding her career and of course, people who had their opinions were saying mean things. They criticized and bashed us,” Ice shared. “I saw her getting affected and that really hurt me.”

Singer-songwriter, Ice, who started working at 3 years old as a child actress and became an Eat Bulaga mainstay for 10 years, admitted that at one point, he blamed himself for all the spiteful things being thrown their way. “Na feel ko lang na dapat ko pa ba ituloy ito na baka nakakasira ako sa kanya? But yung reassurance naman niya sa akin is that she is okay as long as I am there for her.

Finding a dynamic that works

When Ice and Liza got together, Amara—Liza’s daughter from her ex-husband—was just four years old.

Ice admitted he initially faced challenges adjusting to his role as a stepparent and father figure to Amara, as he was unsure of his place. “I felt kind of lost. Ano yung gagawin nung third person? May mom, may dad, so ano ako?” he recalled.

Thankfully, Amara welcomed him into her life with open arms. “Nakakatuwa lang because she let things be and let life take its course,” he added. “Nung una, it was also a journey, but I was like ‘don’t ever call me tita. Eventually, it became ‘papa’ and sinabi ko sa sarili ko na of course I want to be called dad, but I cannot impose that on her.”

“If she feels like calling me dad one of these days then it’s good. I’ll wait for it. And then one time, she was just like ‘Can I just call you dad?’ And like, [I said] okay.”

Meanwhile, Liza said that in the beginning, Amara couldn’t accept her parents’ separation—thinking it was temporary. “When I told her that we were gonna live with Ice, she really broke down and cried,” she explained. “But I always believe that the truth, while it’s hard to confront, is the only way to true acceptance.”

Even then, she also had to be careful with Ice’s feelings. But eventually, they were able to work things out.

“She was very curious and would ask Ice questions like: ‘Why do you look like a man?’ or ‘What is LGBT?’ or ‘Why do you love my mommy?’” Liza shared. “She’d always ask questions and we would always answer truthfully. The bottom line about all this is that we never hid things from her. From the get-go, she knew that Ice and I were together and committed to one another romantically and not like ‘best friends.'” 

Non-negotiables as non-traditional parents 

Raising a teen can be tough for any parent, but Ice believes that he and Liza are lucky with Amara, who is now 15 and currently resides in the U.S.

“She’s a good teenager,” Ice said fondly. “Of course, she has these emotional moments, which is typical of a teenager. [But] what’s nice about it is we’ve established deeper communication among the three of us, na normally nagiging problem sa parents if one starts keeping secrets.”

“Ever since she was young, na-establish namin yung open communication in the family. Walang secrets. Yung style of parenting ko is [that] I give you my 100% trust. Now if you break it, may problem.”

Ice may not consider himself a traditional parent, but he emphasizes the need to build relationships and teach Amara the importance of responsibility and accountability. “Ang rule ko lang is you have to be kind to people. You have to share. But those little things that parents typically do, I don’t do that. You can sleep at whatever time you want as long as [when] you’re at school, you won’t be sleepy.”

And Amara has not disappointed him and Liza, as she has been acing her studies in the US. “It’s more of a give-and-take thing. But I think it really depends on the kid that you have. If Amara has a totally different behavior, then I would have a different approach. But she’s like her mom. She’s very empowered.”

Meanwhile, Liza credits transparency and openness as keys to their parenting style. “We foster an environment where every family member is encouraged to freely express their feelings,” she explained. “Our routine includes regular family meetings and bonding sessions, where we address any issues that arise and engage in open discussions. Although dealing with conflicts and emotions can be challenging, it is necessary. By addressing them promptly, we prevent further complications and find resolutions.”

The style has also shaped Amara’s upbringing. “She grew up in a non-judgmental household where she could express her feelings openly and without reservation,” Liza went on to add. “She knew that we were always there to listen and understand. However, as she enters her teenage years and encounters life beyond our home, she is faced with a different reality. In school, she may come across classmates who judge or bully her. When she speaks her mind and stands up for herself, she is sometimes labeled as bossy.”

“So for us, it is our responsibility to guide Amara. We cultivate self-awareness in her actions and encourage her to be mindful of her intentions. How does she want others to perceive her? This process of adjustment helps her navigate through different social experiences and interactions.”

Against all odds

While there has been progress in the LGBTQIA+ community, there is definitely still a long way to go.

“Yes, you call us a family. But the Philippines doesn’t actually recognize us as a family, which is very unfortunate,” Ice pointed out. “Ang hirap. Of course, we have a child, [but] hindi siya recognized as my child. I’m just a guardian despite the fact that we’ve been together and I’ve helped raise her.”

Despite this, Amara still loves her dad. Recalling the letter she shared for him during Father’s Day, Ice said: “People were telling her ‘Bakit mo tinatawag siyang dad?’ She felt so bad na parang ‘Who are they to invalidate our relationship?’ Yes, you’re a trans man, but I see you as my dad.”

“I mean, a lot of improvements have been made. But there’s still a lot more to do. It’s so simple to let [people] live [their lives peacefully.] Unfortunately, society doesn’t allow us to do that,” he pointed out.

Liza echoed Ice’s statements, saying that their aim as an LGBTQIA+ family is to show that they too can live authentically and openly in public. “We share our experiences as an LGBT family because we believe that LGBT families need more visibility, especially in the Philippines, where traditional and conservative views on family still prevail,” she explained. 

“It’s common to see representation of LGBT couples in magazines, articles, and interviews, but what about LGBT families in general? How do we navigate life as a family without the legal protections in place? For instance, how can Ice adopt Amara when our marriage isn’t even recognized?”

“Being open and transparent about our family’s situation is crucial, and we’re grateful to have platforms to share our experiences,” Liza declared. “Our hope is that someday, our government will listen and grant us the same rights as conventional families.”

Love always wins

Over a decade into their relationship, Ice believes that while their setup as a couple and family is unorthodox and different from most, their trust and love for one another makes them stronger—together.

“Liza and I, we’re strong as a couple, [but] at the same time, we’re strong individually,” Ice said proudly. “We have our dreams as a couple, but we have personal dreams as well. So for me, that’s what’s unique about us. We make sure that we respect our individuality, but we thrive on being together.”

Liza believes that when it comes to love, it’s something so intimate and so unique. “It’s important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to love. We shouldn’t impose our own perspective of what love should be onto others. We all have different ways of expressing love,” she added. “But at the end of the day, love is love, and love will win if what you share is authentic and sincere.”

Words ALEXA VILLANO

Photography KIM SANTOS of KLIQ, INC.

Makeup MARY ANN PARBA

Hair SHARMAINE MANALO

Art Direction MARC YELLOW

Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA

Sittings Editor MARGA MEDRANO TUPAZ 

Shot on Location at WESTIN MANILA

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