Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo: Blended Together
For the first time ever, Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo give a glimpse into their lives at home and as parents to a blended family.
Despite being full of litter boxes and cat trees stationed in different areas for the many felines in Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo’s home, it was undeniably filled with warmth and was proof that things could be worked out. The space was well-lit and comfortable—one where you could see them grow, live, and thrive despite their busy lives in the showbiz industry. One could even say that the catification of their house could be seen as an example of how they handle themselves and their unique dynamics.
Dennis and Jennylyn may as well be considered a model blended family. Both are no strangers to parenthood when they became single parents to two boys — Calix, Dennis’ son with actress Carlene Aguilar, and Jazz, Jennylyn’s son with actor Patrick Garcia. Since the birth of their daughter, Dylan, they work as a team and have maintained a delicate balance of bonding, disciplining, and knowing which battles to fight. While many may find the setup peculiar, it’s a thought that the two celebrity parents teach their kids to pay no heed.
“Hindi na nila kailangan mag-isip ng iba,” Dennis refers to those wondering about their setup. “A blended family is like a regular and normal family. May mga ibang normal family pero medyo dysfunctional sila. Sa amin, kahit blended kami at modern ang setup, we see to it na masaya ang bawat isa and talagang solid kahit ano pang tawag diyan.”
Being blended has a lot more solidarity than it looks.
While there is truth to Dennis’ words about normal families being dysfunctional, many are quick to attribute it to the more modern and blended ones. It’s not a lie when parents mention the struggles of managing one. But those become their weight in gold when they see their kids bond together without even thinking about the nuances. This is evident in the bond of the step-brothers — Calix and Jazz — who treat each other like blood-related brothers.
“Para silang sabay lumaki,” Jennylyn remarked. “Nagkikita sila kahit nung hindi pa kami magkasama sa isang house.“
Dennis and Jennylyn also added that early exposure of the two boys to one another made the rest of the transition easier, especially with the arrival of their half-sister, Dylan. “Feeling ko ngayon pa lang, magiging protective kuya si Calix. Lalo na nag-iisang babae lang. And malalaki na ang mga kuya niya so meron siyang dalawang bodyguard. May dalawa na siyang protector at tagapagtanggol pag inaapi siya,” Dennis bets joyfully.
A bond born of choice, love, and respect
Jennylyn and Dennis’ first step to making sure that they felt like a family was to make bonding their utmost priority. Although Dylan is still too young, the foundation for what family is would depend on the bond of the two boys with their parents. When Jennylyn used to dive, Calix would be her buddy for underwater explorations. Dennis, on the other hand, played games with the two. The celebrity parents took their boys’ interests into consideration, building a connection filled with love, respect, and choice.
“Shinashare namin yung mga interest namin sa kanila para mas madali kaming maka-relate sa kanila,” Dennis said.
Jennylyn agrees and says that with so many things happening, they have to keep up with what their kids love to do to understand them even more and foster meaningful connections.
Discipline is the work of two, not one
As the boys approach their teenage years, Jennylyn and Dennis acknowledge that there’s only ours in the context of discipline. Jennylyn emphasizes the importance of respect in raising their children, admitting to being the disciplinarian between her and Dennis.
“Disciplinarian ako sa aspeto ng pagpapalaki. Ako yung mas mahigpit” — she elaborates further on her style — “Hindi naman ako naninigaw pero parang mas kinakausap ko sila na parang adult.”
Parenting teens is a whole new ball game for any parent that even Jennylyn and Dennis pondered a bit before offering their advice. “Pag kakausapin mo sila, make sure na mas maiintindihan nila,” Dennis answered. “Straight to the point palagi. Hindi ka magpapaligoy-ligoy. Maging truthful ka at alam nila agad na tama and positive yung tinturo mo sa kanila.”
For Jennylyn, it’s important that parents do not lose sight of guiding their children. “Meron sa mga bata na criticial stage, the formative years. Ito yung dapat nila kailangan tutukan at gabayan. Kailangan nila bigyan ng time kahit sobrang busy nila.”
Modern family problems require modern solutions
Especially with Dylan now, the celebrity parents shared that technology and developments made it much easier to establish a routine and attend to their newborn baby girl. 15 years ago, things such as the Pocket Nanny and the Baby Plus didn’t exist just yet. Moreover, their daughter gave Jennylyn something quite precious: another chance to enjoy being a mother.
“Mas binibigyan ko pa ng time yung motherhood, si Dylan, and yung family,” she admitted. “Nung first time ko magkaroon ng baby, si Jazz, hindi ko masyadong na-enjoy yung motherhood kasi parang two months pa lang, kailangan ko bumalik sa work. So this time, sabi ko hindi ko pwede gawin iyon ulit. Kailangan ko muna mag-focus sa motherhood.”
Co-parenting the boys
When it comes to parenting styles, there isn’t much of an adjustment for Jennylyn given that she raised Jazz. However, he does visit and spend time with his father Patrick, and other siblings. In Dennis’ case, he makes sure that he and Calix’s mom, Carlene, are always communicating about his needs.
“Ang important diyan ay [dapat] mag-meet kayo. Iisipin niyo naman ay kapakanan nung anak. Siguro kailangan din maging open yung communication para mapag-usapan kung ano man problema, ano man dapat ayusin at baguhin sa pagpapalaki,” Dennis shared.
The setup has never been an issue with their kids. Dennis even said that Calix was the one who asked about their plans of getting married. “Parang inanticipate na niya. Wala naman questioning na na-accept nila.”
It is their family and nothing can change that!
The modern concept of a blended family may take time to accept but it shouldn’t be too difficult with the challenges being universal. Dennis, as a working dad, once struggled with the guilt of staying away from his family especially knowing that they needed him. “Talagang mahirap kapag mag-isa ka lang. Lalo na yung times na buntis si Jen at kailangan ko mag lock-in. Mahirap dahil inaalala mo ang asawa mo na kailangan din ng kasama at nakaka-guilty na wala ka doon.“
Dennis also pointed out that his next order of business after taping would be to enjoy life as a dad. “Gusto ko makapag-rest ng kaunti at mag-focus sa baby and sa family. Sana magawa ko iyon.”
After all, blended or not, they are all still a family—one that Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado will forever and lovingly call their own.
Words ALEXA VILLANO and KEVYN GOHU
Photography SHAIRA LUNA
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Makeup RICK CALDERON
Hairstyling DALE MALARI
Styling AJ ALBERTO
Shoot Coordination MJ ALMERO and ANTHONY MENDOZA