Moms and Dads

Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada on Being Single Moms and Finding Love Again

Bonded by over three decades of friendship, Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada also share a common denominator: being single moms.

Separations can be difficult for both parent and child. And co-parenting is just as challenging. Such is the case of Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada.

Throughout their three decades of friendship, they’ve found themselves married, in a relationship, raising kids, and later, separated from their partners. And while their shared experiences have allowed them to navigate initially raising their children on their own and eventually co-parenting their children with their ex-partners, it was not easy at the start.

Vina Morales, Karla Estrada, Ruffa Gutierrez, and Sunshine Cruz
From L to R: Vina Morales, Karla Estrada, Ruffa Gutierrez, and Sunshine Cruz

Being a single mom felt like raising them on your own

Although busy with their respective careers, the four moms were brought together in a Modern Parenting cover shoot. Aside from detailing the secrets behind their longstanding friendship, they also talked about being single moms.

Ruffa, who has two daughters—Lorin and Venice with ex-husband Yilmaz Bektas, always felt that she raised the girls on her own. “I think I’ve just gotten used to raising them on my own. It’s just something that came naturally to me because when I left Istanbul on my own, everything I did was on my own,” the Can’t Buy Me Love star shared in an exclusive interview with Modern Parenting.

“But of course [I was able to do this] with the support of [my] family and the support of friends,” she added. “I could have never done it alone without the support of those who love me.”

Last year, Lorin and Venice were reunited with their dad and sister Ilknaz. The trip, according to Ruffa, has answered all the prayers of healing for her daughters—thus allowing them to begin a new chapter in their lives.

Ruffa Gutierrez
Ruffa Gutierrez

“I think it was time. I thought it was the beginning of a relationship they would have with their dad…seeing them constantly. But I think it’s also a closure,” Ruffa shared. “Closure [meaning] there’s your dad, he exists, you’ve met him and they won’t have any more dad issues because they finally met Yilmaz as teenagers.”

Although Yilmaz was not present as much around the two girls growing up, Ruffa credits her dad, actor Eddie Gutierrez, and her brothers for being the father figures in her daughters’ lives. “They were father figures to Lorin and Venice. And I am very fortunate to have a strong system when it comes to family. They are always there. For us, it’s one for all and all for one. They also teach my kids.”

Raising them amidst other priorities

Vina for her part admitted she initially faced difficulties when it came to co-parenting her daughter Ceana with ex-partner Cedric Lee. “I was just thankful that my family was there,” she shared. “Yes, it was tough, but I was thankful that most of my producers—when it came to teleseryes and shootings—allowed Ceana to be there. So Ceana grew up in a production life.”

“But this time, [now] that she is a teenager, we—the father and I—are on good terms [and] our co-parenting is good. [There’s] no more pressure,” she added.

Vina Morales
Vina Morales

On the other hand, Sunshine, who has three children—Sam, Chesca, and Angelina—said that one of the challenges she had to constantly juggle with was working while her kids were growing up. ”I needed to work and at the same time take care of my three girls. Maliliit pa sila noon,” she recalled.

“After 13 years of marriage, I became a single mom, and that time kasi, housewife ako, I didn’t know if tatanggapin ako ulit ng showbiz,” she added. “But thank God in 2013, when I got separated, I was welcomed with open arms by ABS-CBN and GMA. Yun lang naman yung challenge ko as a single mom pero thankfully, hindi masyadong struggle kasi dumami yung blessings. Soon, I was given lots of teleseryes and endorsements.”

Having faith that everything will work out

These days, all things are good according to Sunshine, who recently appeared in a campaign for a popular clothing brand. “My kids are now adults—18, 19, and mag-23. I think naman so far, I did a good job.”

Sunshine has since co-parented her kids with ex-husband Cesar Montano and they would both be seen during special occasions and vacations.

Sunshine Cruz
Sunshine Cruz

Meanwhile, Karla—who has four kids, including Daniel Padilla—said that there are many challenges in being a single mom. Just like her friends, she went through raising them by herself in the beginning.

Kailangan matibay ang faith. The best partner is God,” the Face-to-Face host explained. As a solution-oriented person, she added, “Pag may problems, [dapat iniisip ko na] agad yung solution na gusto kong gawin because yung problema na iyan…wala ka na magagawa. So anong pwedeng gawin? Think of the solution agad-agad.”

More than anything, Karla believes in constant growth and choosing to be good—which she imparts on her kids. ”I always tell my kids that at the end of the day, piliin ‘nyo pa rin maging mabuting tao. Hindi naman tayo perfect na hindi tayo nagagalit or nagkakamali. But every mistake dapat, meron tayong learning.”

The doors to loving again are just there

Having gone through marriage, break-up, and separation, are the four ladies still willing to give love a try?

Karla, who is currently in a five-year relationship, said: ”I’m always open. Naiiwan ka talaga ng mga mahal mo sa buhay, especially your kids. Kailangan natin ng companion kasi yung mga anak natin are going to have their own lives.“

If ever magkaroon at magka-chance na magka-partner, it’s okay. But it’s not my priority dahil kaka-quota na din naman sa kaka-love love,” she added in jest.

Karla Estrada

On the other hand, Sunshine isn’t looking for one at this point, but she is still open to the idea. “Para sa akin, kung meron dumating, why not? I would tell this to everyone na masarap yung feeling na inspired ka, meron kilig sa buhay mo. Kung may dumating, okay. Kung wala, okay lang din kasi nandyan naman ang mga friends ko, my family, and my kids.”

And just like Sunshine, Vina and Ruffa are not closing their doors to eventually having partners in the future. “That’s still part of my dream…to settle down and find my person. Yes, I’m very open to that,” Vina revealed.

“I am [not] going to grow old alone,” Ruffa piped in. ”I am going to be with someone and I am going to grow old with someone. It’s my choice and why not? I think love is always going to be there and I think all of us deserve to be happy. All of us deserve to be taken care of and we all deserve to be loved.”

Juggling parenting and work

As moms and celebrities who juggle busy schedules with parenting and work, the four know for a fact how overwhelming that can be at times. This is why they emphasized the importance of having me-time and carving out time to spend with friends and loved ones.

“It’s not easy juggling a family, raising kids, being a single mom, [and] focusing on your career,” Ruffa explained. “But at the end of the day, keeping [touch with] our friends and being with them is crucial.”

Sunshine, meanwhile, points out the importance of communication. ”Whether it may be a phone call or chat, you have to really find time to see your friends kahit once or twice a month. I think naman na self-love din yan para sa atin. Importante din yan eh. We also need friends na mapagkakatiwalaan natin sa buhay natin.

Vina, who recently finished a movie, added that it’s all about time management. ” I think we just have to make time. And you will have you just have to communicate with your friends and be open about you know with your schedule about what’s happening with your life. And from there, you can move on to meeting and you know, spending time with each other.”

Echoing Sunshine’s point on communication, the singer pointed out: “I think the best is communication. You have to communicate and be in touch with each other.”

Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla on having a friendship that lasts

Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla’s friendship is truly one for the books, as the four have managed to keep their bond alive while making a name for themselves in their respective careers, raising their kids, and even amid setbacks and challenges that they faced individually as celebrities.

Vina Morales, Ruffa Gutierrez, Karla Estrada, and Sunshine Cruz

“We can always be together, even with our kids around, but the friendship never stops,” Ruffa explained. “And if there are times when they need to be alone, we’ll give them that space. And then we’ll just wait [until] they’re ready to open up about something that they’re going through. So I think it’s respecting one another and just being there.”

“A lot of people are saying na in showbiz, bihira ka lang talaga magkakaroon ng real friends, but with them, talagang I found sisters in them. I’m grateful to be able to find these girls,” Sunshine added of their friendship.

But it is through self-care and self love that these moms can find time to be themselves—whether in showbiz, or with family and friends.

Sa mga parents na parang binuhos na nila ang buong buhay nila sa anak, there’s no problem naman, kasi dapat naman [ganoon],” Karla explained, while pointing out the importance of having me-time amid all the chaos in one’s life. “Pero number one is of course, [to take care of] your mental health. Inaalagaan mo ang sarili mo.”

“Malaking bagay talaga to hang out with your friends,” she added. “And friends na positive people. It’s actually more on nakaktulong sa mental health mo and sa pagkatao mo. Cause eventually, tatanda ang mga anak mo and they’re gonna leave us.”

To end, the mom of four stressed on the importance of having friends, especially in a time when one’s children will eventually grow up and have lives and families of their own. “Kaya very important na may friends na makakasama mo. Mawawala kasi rin mga kids mo, they’re gonna have their own family. Kaya masarap na may mga kabonding ka na friends na maasahan talaga.

More about Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla!

Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada: The Secret to a Lasting Friendship

With Love, Mom: A Letter From Sunshine Cruz

Ruffa Gutierrez Pens Heartwarming Letter to Daughter Lorin Bektas Who Turned 20

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