Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola: Parenting in Full Bloom

In their first appearance on a cover as a family, Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola-Manzano talk about the joys of raising their daughter Rosie.

Jessy Mendiola-Manzano and Luis Manzano with Isabella Rose

There’s no doubt that this chapter of Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola-Manzano’s lives as newly anointed parents has brought out a certain glow in both of them — one that’s evident in the way Jessy affectionately carries Rosie, also known as Peanut, in her arms, cradling her with an infectious smile despite an early morning shoot. It’s also in the whispers of Luis in between takes as he constantly tells Rosie how much he loves her — lifting her up in the air to hear her precious giggles.

Indeed, Luis and Jessy have embraced the joys and challenges of nurturing their growing family. With their laughter and profound bond, they wholeheartedly navigate the uncharted waters of parenthood with a blend of grace, determination, and unyielding love. And in an exclusive feature with Modern Parenting, where the family appears on a cover for the very first time, we delve into their heartwarming journey discovering the lessons they’ve learned, the moments that have shaped them, and the aspirations that guide them as they bloom into their roles as modern parents.

The shift in priorities

Being a new father has definitely impacted Luis Manzano’s life — especially with his approach to work. “It rearranged my priorities and gave me one — you!” he says, pointing to Rosie and pinching her cheek. “All of a sudden, it’s all about a newfound purpose. You wake up with an added drive, you go to sleep with an added drive.”

Jessy adds that she now finally understands why she’s okay to drop everything for her little one — even taking a quick break from showbiz to focus on being a new mom. “Honestly, hindi ko talaga nakita yung sarili ko na maging mom growing up,” she admits. “But now that I’m a mother, I finally understand what to do. Naiintindihan ko yung sinasabi nila na it’s such a fulfilling purpose. Yung contentment, yung happiness, the look of love, the smiles we get from her. It makes my heart swell,” she beams. “Parati kong sinasabi that this is what happiness looks like.”

A balancing act

Jessy is also learning to balance it out when it comes to her work and spending time with Luis. On top of slowly accepting projects, they make sure to plan and schedule everything as opposed to spontaneous dates and trips they could just do before.

“Kungwari kapag tulog siya, that’s the time na lalabas kami or gagawa ng work. So we really try our best na kungwari I have work, si Luis will stay at home with her. Or kung si Luis yung may work, ako naman. I will stay at home with her. Ganun yung dynamics namin. We really prioritize our time together and also our time for ourselves. Kasi ako, kungwari I need to do errands or maybe gusto ko ng ‘me time,’ talagang we give each other that freedom. Na kahit papano, we have that right balance for the family and for ourselves.”

Their blooming baby girl

While Jessy grew up in a household full of women, it was the opposite for Luis, who had a feeling Rosie, short for Isabela Rose, would be a girl when she was still in her mother’s womb. “Honestly, sa aming dalawa, whether it was a girl or a boy, basta healthy, we were beyond blessed na,” shares Jessy. “Mas shocked kami when we found out I was pregnant. So it wasn’t a surprise sa amin na girl siya but more yung nalaman namin na buntis ako. We were like, ‘What?! Wow!’ Biglang bago na yung mundo naming dalawa. Parang oh my god, umiiba na talaga.”

Luis and Jessy approached the task of naming their daughter, Isabela Rose, with a beautiful blend of sentiment and significance. “Actually, when we were choosing, we had lots of options,” Jessy recalls. “One reason is [Rosa] Vilma. Si momski; si Tita V [Luis’ mother]. We wanted to incorporate yung Rose sa name niya,” she explains.

On top of this, Jessy’s two nieces — the daughters of her sister — are named after flowers as well: Lily and Jasmine. “So sabi ko, ‘It would be really cute kung yung girls ng family natin, flowers yung names.’ So kaya naging Rose yung second name niya.”

“Isabela, parang out of nowhere, I think I was on my last trimester, ‘Sabi ko sa kanya [Luis], how about Isabela?’ I was just throwing names at him na parang, ‘What do you think? Willow or Meadow?’ Tapos biglang sabi ko, ‘How about Isabela?’ Then sabi niya, ‘Isabela Rose Tawile Manzano. Wow, that sounds so good!’ So we finally felt like that was the right name.”

The joys of raising Isabela Rose

In the garden of parenthood, every parent nurtures not only the physical growth but also the delicate blossoming of their child’s potential and character. Like tender buds unfurling under the sun’s warm embrace, a parent’s hopes and dreams are the nourishing rain that showers upon their child’s aspirations. With every whispered lullaby, bedtime story, and encouraging word, Luis and Jessy sow the seeds of possibility, envisioning a future where Rosie not only stands tall but blooms into a person of purpose, kindness, and resilience.

“Just sensing and feeling her happiness is rewarding,” Luis shares. “You know, seeing those small milestones, whether it be jumping from milk to solid, or hearing a heartfelt laugh.”

“Her laugh, grabe,” Jessy nods. “And yung progress niya, yung milestones niya. Like from rolling to now na she’s crawling a bit, and she can sit on her own. It’s just really rewarding na makita yun,” she agrees. “Kaya para samin, important talaga na we stay at home and we communicate with her and we interact with her.”

A fulfillment unlike any other

The two are also proud that at eight months, Rosie has never had screen time. “We really value that progress of hers and talagang important sa amin na we give our time to her. Kasi we follow a routine every day. Same routine talaga. And every day, parang ang bilis ng progress niya,” Jessy swells with pride. “Now she communicates with us, she knows how to clap her hands, she knows how to do close-open. That itself, seeing her grow — sana hindi mabilis pero mabilis talaga — fulfilling yun para sa aming dalawa.”

“Yeah, those small rewards that happen every day and those monumental milestones — yun yung mga rewards for us,” Luis adds. “And regardless of the global situation, whether it be from the pandemic, the economy, lahat-lahat, the only hope and dream na meron ako for this little one,” Luis refers to Rosie as she sits on his lap, “is that she becomes a blessing to other people. Yun talaga.”

Parenting in full bloom

Becoming a parent is a metamorphic journey that not only ushers in a new life but also awakens a new version of oneself. As the cocoon of familiarity gives way to the emergence of a profound role, the lens through which life is perceived undergoes a remarkable transformation. In nurturing Rosie, an unexpected and equally transformative blossoming occurred within Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola-Manzano. Because the very act of guiding another life encouraged them to foster growth, patience, and resilience within themselves. Just as a bud unfurls to reveal the vibrant petals within, parenthood inspired them to bloom as they continue to learn, adapt, and flourish alongside their daughter.

“It’s one big, ‘Ah, kaya pala!’ moment,” says Luis as he talks about being a new dad. “Like, ‘Ah, kaya pala ganun mommy ko. Ah, kaya pala ganun daddy ko.’ Because you know those moments when you were younger and you failed to understand why your parents acted a certain way? Sometimes, it even angers you. Then you finally understand, ‘Ah, that’s why.’ In fact, when Peanut had her ears pierced, I couldn’t even stay inside the room. Because hindi ko kaya marinig yung iyak niya. So when I told my mom about it, sabi niya, ‘Now you understand how hard it is for parents to see their child in physical or emotional pain.'”

“It’s different for every parent,” Jessy interjects. “Like for me, for example, dati I would read a lot. I would research a lot about parenting while I was pregnant. But honestly, totoo yung sinasabi ng mga mommies, yung mga kaibigan ko na mommies, na you just wing it. You just learn along the way.”

“There’s no formula,” Luis nods.

“And that there’s no right or wrong,” Jessy continues. “I mean, of course, you would know what’s wrong or right. But kumbaga whatever works for your baby. Whatever works for you as a parent. That’s the most important thing. Kasi every baby is different, hindi naman sila lahat parehas. So siyempre, you would expect na every parent also, iba-iba din sila. Hindi mo pwedeng i-dictate ang isang magulang kung paano nila alagaan yung anak nila. So for me, it’s very different. Ang dami mong matututunan. And you grow also. You grow as a parent. Talagang kami ni Howhow [Jessy and Luis’ pet name for each other], it’s more of communicating with each other and understanding each other.”

“And you grow as a couple,” Luis adds.

“Yes,” Jessy agrees. “You grow as parents, you grow as a couple, and you grow as a person.”

Lessons that last

In the tender embrace of parenthood, a profound desire takes root within Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola-Manzano. And this is the aspiration to nurture Rosie into a person of unwavering integrity and compassion.

“As early as now, we we want to teach her patience and calmness,” Jessy elaborates.

“Ako, small thing that I’m really trying to instill, which hopefully she observes from me and Howhow, and na I try to really ingrain sa kanya, is whenever we pretend for her to talk to our angels at home, there’s always po and opo. The respect, you know? For the whole household. Let’s say they prepare her food, we’ll say, ‘Oh, say thank you po Ate LB for fixing my food.’ Just letting her appreciate the whole household and showing her how to interact with them,” shares Luis.

“It makes a huge difference na ikaw as a parent, as a mom or as a dad or as a guardian, talagang important na you stay calm,” explains Jessy. “Malaki yung naitutulong kapag yung demeanor mo, calm din. Siya rin, talagang super mafi-feel niya. Makukuha din niya sayo. Pag frustrated ka, pag stressed ka, mafi-feel din niya yun. So I think mas natututunan niya yun kapag ikaw din ganun. Kapag yun yung feeling mo o narararamdaman mo. So yung aura mo, magta-transfer sa kanya and then you guys, parang instantly connected kayong dalawa.”

The unexpected delights of parenthood

As enchanting as it is transformative, becoming a parent is a tapestry woven with threads of unexpected delights and unique experiences that both Luis and Jessy find themselves unraveling. “I thought breastfeeding would be an easy journey,” Luis admits. “I thought it was so natural. Na kumbaga its nature doing its thing, you know? Like the baby would automatically latch. I thought it would be a breeze for a mom and baby pero hindi pala. That’s the biggest eye opener para sakin.”

“Ako, more of akala ko hindi ko siya kayang alagaan ng mag-isa,” reveals Jessy. “Like akala ko pag may work si Howhow, na if ever yung kasama namin sa house, kailangan mag-leave or kailangan din umuwi, tapos ako lang maiiwan ng mag-isa kay Rosie, I was so nervous at first. Like how am I going to do this? Paano ko siya aalagaan ng mag-isa? Hindi ko yata kaya. But then when I tried it, tapos natututo na talaga ako, parang it’s like muscle memory. Alam mo talaga yung lahat ng gagawin. You even learn how to pick up things using your feet,” she laughs. “Ang dami mong matutunan.”

“Basically, you become a superhero,” Luis tells her.

“No naman,” Jessy smiles at him. “But you know, it’s amazing how you just wing it. How biglang nag-iiba. Mag-iiba ka. From how you were before becoming a parent, while you were pregnant, tapos now na may baby na, nandiyan na siya. Parang nakakatakot sa una. Pero once you learn how to do it, parang ano na lang siya, ‘Ah, okay na. Kaya ko na siya,” she shares.

“Sa kanya naman,” Jessy continues, referring to Luis. “I’m actually really surprised and grateful na he gave up a lot of things also. Kasi diba a lot of people will say na yung nanay yung mas nagsa-sacrifice? But you know, ang daddy din. Talagang they sacrifice their time and patience, my goodness. Yung patience niya talaga ngayon, nasa 1,000%. You could see na siya din talaga, nagbago as a person. If he was patient before, he’s more patient now. If he was understanding before, mas understanding siya now. So I really appreciate the change that fatherhood brought to him.”

Learning as they continue to grow

As first-time parents, Luis and Jessy find themselves bursting with insights born from the sweet symphony of trial and triumph. With the shared understanding that parenthood is a mosaic of joys, challenges, and infinite learning, they extend their hands to fellow newcomers, offering a collection of tips and advice crafted from the heart.

“You know, try to drown out some of the voices around you,” Luis advises, especially as millennial parents exposed to an overwhelming amount of information. “Even on social media, when we post about Peanut, you have a million and one comments. Of course, some of them have good intentions. But like what Howhow said—there’s no single formula for raising a child. Every baby is different. So learn to drown out some of the noise and figure out what works for you.”

“And also, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Jessy chimes in. “Kasi yung iba, nahihiyang humingi ng tulong. Or may ibang nahihiyang magtanong. But kami kasi, we always ask. We really appreciate the help. Parang medyo contradicting. But I guess you really have to find that perfect balance between drowning out the noise and also listening and being open to advice. Advice from your pedia, from your close friends na parents na rin, or your family. Honestly, sa journey namin as parents, as newbie parents, it’s really important to communicate with each other. To really ask. And sa akin talaga, naturally, dadating na lang yun eh.”

“It’ll be second nature,” Luis agrees.

“Oo, talagang mararamdaman mo talaga siya. And totoo yun ah. Like ako, whenever I feel that there’s something wrong or let’s say parang may poop na itong si Rosie. Pag-chinecheck ko yung diaper, meron. Kumbaga mafi-feel mo yun as a mother and yung instinct dadating na talaga yun. You don’t really have to force it. Kasi talagang naturally, ganun yung mangyayari.”

“Yeah, that’s one natural force you don’t want to mess with. Maternal instinct.”

As Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola-Manzano continue to embark on their remarkable journey of parenthood, their story is a testament to the exquisite interplay of growth and nurturing. Through their shared commitment to raising a kind and compassionate human being, they inadvertently nurture their own bond, growing as individuals and as partners. And as they navigate the delicate balance of caring for little Rosie while blossoming themselves, they are a radiant reminder that parenthood is not only about guiding a child’s growth but also about discovering new facets of oneself and flourishing in the art of love, responsibility, and transformation.

Photography DOOKIE DUCAY
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Art Direction MARC YELLOW

Shot on location at VIVERE HOTEL ALABANG

Special thanks to JOANNE ANGELES

Read more cover stories like Luis Manzano and Jessy Mendiola’s:

Nikko Ramos and Bea Fabregas-Ramos: The Importance of Wellness in Parenting

Drew Arellano and Iya Villania-Arellano: Setting the Best Example of Love

Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo: Blended Together

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