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

Celebrity moms Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada share how their friendship has stood the test of time, with motherhood bringing them even closer together.

Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estradan Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

The glittering world of showbiz gives so much promise, especially to young actors, but the connections that tie people together can be fleeting for most. Amid friendships that can easily be formed between co-stars, fellow talents, or even among cast members, only a rare few have stood the test of time. Even more so on a stage of public scrutiny, where criticism can reach an all-time high.

These, however, served to strengthen the enduring bond shared by celebrity moms Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada. With a friendship that spans over three decades, their camaraderie is a true testament to sisterhood, loyalty, and trust.

From making a name for themselves in the limelight to navigating the throes of motherhood, down to the in-betweens of life, these celebrity moms have emerged stronger than ever—with an unwavering bond of friendship. In this exclusive interview with Modern Parenting, Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla get candid about what goes on within their tightly-knit circle.

The salad days of their friendship

Understanding the humble beginnings of their friendship means taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane. With roots dating back to the early 80s to 90s, the local television variety show That’s Entertainment served as the cornerstone of their friendship, as well as the setting where they first met.

“We have a core group of friends from That’s Entertainment that evolved throughout the years,” Ruffa begins. “So our friendship spans between three to four decades already. With Vina and Sunshine, we met and we became close during that era. I joined in 1987 with Karla, [where] I became close with her when we shot Maricris Sioson: Japayuki.”

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

“[That’s Entertainment was] a new show ng mga teenagers but iba ibang days namin, like ako, I’m from the Wednesday edition, and I think Thursday si Vina. Ruffa…not sure if Monday or Tuesday. Teenagers pa lang kami and we’ll see each other [often],” Sunshine recalls, while adding that she first got close with Karla who was part of the Wednesday batch and 90s Regal Babies, like herself.

On the other hand, Vina recalls that the variety show contributed to their overall closeness, along with intertwining stories that played a big part, too. “I became closer to Ruffa because I was one of the ninangs of [her kid] Lorin, while she became the ninang of my daughter Ceana.”

As for Karla, she first found a friend in Ruffa. “[We met when I was] doing a movie with her in early 1992, then Sunshine, on 1993, movie din. And then, si Vina early 90s din in That’s Entertainment,” she explains. “And si Vina is Bisaya, so siya yung ka-chika ko every time nakikita ko siya. Kasi meron kaming common denominator, which is our dialect.”

Keeping the friendship strong

More than a storied career in That’s Entertainment, along with the occasional showbiz projects that brought them together, motherhood was what tied Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla together—given that they are all single moms, too.

“Yeah, Karla, Ruffa, ako, and si Vina…we’re all single moms,” Sunshine reveals. “So marami kaming shinishare na kwento about our kids, our lives, [and our] experiences. Never-ending ang kwentuhan namin kapag nagsasama or nagkikita kami.

Sunshine Cruz for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024
Sunshine Cruz

And rightfully so! Having Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla in one room for this cover shoot is a miraculous feat of its own, given their very busy schedules. But being in their presence didn’t feel intimidating at all. Their infectious, happy energy as they laughed, chatted in between takes and cracked jokes at each other was a beautiful reminder of genuine connections that transcended fame.

It was a magnetic force that drew everyone in—an experience you cannot put into words unless you were in that moment.

“It’s been more than three decades and we’re getting stronger. I mean, our relationship became really tight,” Vina says proudly. “We make sure that we make time for each other. Well, we haven’t traveled together yet, but we make sure that we’re always in touch. And we do activities together.”

Vina Morales for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024
Vina Morales

“Our friendship has evolved—from being teenage girls trying to find our way and trying to become successful in life, being in relationships, having children, and raising a family, to separating from our partners, being single moms, and now looking forward to growing old together,” Ruffa says fondly. “So I think this will last a lifetime.”

As for Karla, despite being busy, constant communication has allowed them to remain updated about each other despite their busy schedules. “Hindi kami laging magkakasama, lalo na mga early 20s namin. Because at the time, may mga kanya kanya kaming ganap. Very busy kami. But yung communication, hindi nawawala.”

Thanks to technology, having  a group chat helped. But more than that, the moms would make an effort to reach out to each other. “Masaya kasing kausap…especially yan si Ruffa Gutierrez, kasi sobrang noisy and funny,” Karla teases. “Exciting kausap lagi yan, kahit maliit lang ang balita, ang reactions niya pangtheater. ‘Hah?! Oh my god!'”

Karla Estrada for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024
Karla Estrada

Of challenges and disagreements faced

Disagreements are part and parcel of every relationship, and some of these can even challenge the friendship. But for Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla, it only served to give them a better understanding of each other.

And surprisingly enough, the four haven’t faced a big hurdle that could break their spirit just yet. “Sa friendship namin, wala naman,” Karla says. “Crazy, noh? Maganda rin kasi na di kayo araw araw magkasama kasi less din yung mga disagreements niyo, lalo na sa age namin. Medyo sensitive na kami na madali kaming madamdam.

Wala kaming issues eh. With us kasi, every time that we’re together, all of us, parang happy lang,” Sunshine adds. “And then we talk about positive things as much as possible and kung meron man any trials…we talk about it. Nagaadvice kami kung anong dapat gawin, but at the end of the day, ang sinasabi ko lang is, when it comes to them, whatever makes them happy, I’m also happy for them. No judgments.”

As for Ruffa, it helped to “know [that] you all have your own different lives—both as a personality and mom—and as long as you find time to be with one another, that’s all that matters.”

“I don’t think any one of us have the capacity to break one another,” Ruffa adds. “So I don’t think our friendship was ever tested. And if ever there were disagreements about one another, we addressed it right away. I think communication is key. When we hear something, we ask each other right away, and we address it. I think that’s most important.”

Ruffa Gutierrez

And for Vina, all it took was to be there for each other. “I would say well we have different challenges when it comes to our personal lives and our careers, but we made sure that we were always there for each other,” she says.

“We never had those moments. We always respect our space. We respect each other’s boundaries,” Vina continues. “If somebody is not comfortable opening up about their problems, we don’t really push it and try to find out what’s wrong. That’s why we never had this, you know, the internal tension. We wait until it’s time to talk it out. That way we all get along.”

“Individually…we don’t always share kung ano ang problems namin,” Karla says, noting that they don’t burden each other with their problems, unless they really need help. “Nararamdaman naman namin kung may problema ang isa. So tulungan nalang. More on listening and [giving] advice, if need be.”

So yeah, sa friendships namin, wala namang [problems]. Di pa ako nakaencounter ng anything na di maganda, baka today [during the shoot] lang,” Karla wittingly jokes.

Communication, communication, communication

Given their respective busy schedules, on and off the camera, making time for each other proved to be a challenge. But for Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla, it was a conscious effort they all did for each other.

Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

“It’s easier now because you just have to make time,” Ruffa says simply. “Months can go by that we don’t talk…like I became a beauty queen. I was traveling a lot. Sunshine got married. Vina was also in her relationship. Same with Karla. But when we’d meet up again, it’s like no time has passed. We just continued where we left off.”

“Extra effort talaga magschedule at magkita-kita kasi. Tamad kami kumilos, most especially kung nasa bahay na,” Karla laughs. “So effort talaga, kailangan ng kulitan, like ‘Let’s go see each other na.’ So communication talaga. And when we see each other, kulang ang isang araw sa kwentuhan.’”

Karla Estrada for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

“We see to it that we see each other kahit once or twice a month. Like a catch-up over dinner or drinks or minsan, nagsusurprise visit nalang sila sa akin o ako sa kanilang bahay. So may mga moments kaming ganyan,” Sunshine chimes in.

Even more so in the world of showbiz! With all eyes on them and busy schedules to boot, keeping the friendship alive was very important for Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla.

“It’s really crazy, with the nature of our job, but you just have to have a work-life balance and plan ahead with a schedule,” Vina advises. “You know already that everyone has hectic schedules, [so] you also have to be flexible. I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to our friendship. And maybe because now that we are older, we make sure to make time.”

Vina Morales for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

And yes, even the little things count. “Sobrang demanding ng time namin with our work. But we eat out tapos nagiinuman sa kani-kanilang mga bahay,” Karla opines. “Siguro hindi kami magiging kaibigan if we didn’t understand the demands of our jobs, kung wala kaming parehong interests sa buhay. At the end of the day, kung ano pa man ang mga problema, we just want to grow old together and be happy with our life.”

Shared parenting moments

Just as Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla have nurtured a beautiful bond of friendship, their children have also become close to each other—much like siblings. Karla shares that her brood Daniel Padilla, Jose Carlito, Magui, and Carmella regularly spend time with Ruffa’s kids, Lorin and Venice, alongside Angelina, Sam, and Chesca—Sunshine’s very own Tres Marias.

Nakakausap ko most especially si Venice and si Lorin,” Sunshine recalls fondly. “I would ask about their mom, and sila naman, they’d say ‘Tita, talk to my mom naman.’ And whatever they would share with me, of course I would advise them, specially kung may mga manliligaw. Sasabihin ko sa kanila lagi ‘O basta you behave ah, don’t give your mom a headache.'”

Sunshine Cruz for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

Ruffa, on the other hand, takes on the role of both a reliable aunt and a trusting mother, as she has no qualms about entrusting her children with her friends. “I trust that my friends can already give their children the proper set of values. So I have no doubt that they can raise their kids on their own, but if ever they need me, to guide them or to give them advice, of course, I’ll always be here.”

“Actually mas marami na kaming natutunan from our kids,” Karla chimes in. “So parang kami na ngayon ang inaadvisan.”

As for Vina, whose only daughter Ceana is much younger, she looks up to Ruffa, Sunshine, and Karla as inspiring parents. Likewise, her friends are ever-present in Ceana’s growth. “They’re very good parents to their children. Ruffa, Karla, and Sunshine…they’re doing a great job. They know that no matter I’m always here for them,” Vina shares. 

What friendship means for Ruffa, Sunshine, Vina, and Karla

Anything can happen in a decade, let alone three decades. But time has taught these celebrity moms to embrace each other’s different personalities—and to use each other’s strengths as support in their day-to-day endeavors while being happy for their successes.

Despite balancing busy schedules, how have these moms kept the friendship alive?

Fondly recalling their other friends Donita Rose and Jackie Forster, who are part of their group but were unable to make it to the shoot, Ruffa says, “We come from different backgrounds, we have different experiences, and yet there’s something that brings us together and I think that’s trusting one another, having fun with one another, and growing together.”

Ruffa Gutierrez for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

“And if we’re honest, you know, I think true friendship is not being judgmental,” she continues. “[It’s about] supporting one another during their pain…during their difficult moments. It’s about being there for each other and celebrating each other’s wins. It’s important that women support each other and not compete with one another. And if they have successes in their lives, I’m happy for them sincerely.”

Meanwhile, Sunshine alludes to the convenience of having a group chat that binds everyone together amid busy schedules. “Meron kaming group chat, so everyday, we update each other kung anong mga lakad, anong mga nangyayari and syempre, kasama dito sa group chat si Donita Rose and Jackie Forster. And nakakapagadvise kami kung may problem, like ‘We’re here for you’ or ‘Ito ang gagawin mo,’ ganoon.

“For me, having a friend is like an extended family,” Vina explains. “I know [that] during the weakest times of my life, I have friends to cry on. Even with their busy schedules, they would make their way to be there for me.”

“Even though we don’t really hang out so much because of our schedules, I know in my heart that they won’t say anything behind my back. Alam ko yan,” she adds determinedly. “They would even protect me from people. It’s the trust and the love of our group. Our friendship.”

Ruffa Gutierrez, Sunshine Cruz, Vina Morales, and Karla Estrada for Modern Parenting Spotlight April 2024

As for Karla, fostering bonds of sisterhood means finding a support system in each other. For the mom of four, friendship is a no-brainer. “Supporting each other and then respecting each other’s privacy,” she says simply. “Pag gusto naming tahimik lang, wala kaming kaibigan na namimilit. It’s more of respecting each other’s decision.”

Sa friendship namin kasi, I believe na pag kailangan ng advice, doon ka talaga magsasalita. It’s all about balancing. Yung privacy nila, irerespect natin yan no matter what.”

And of course, it all stems from love. “Unconditional yung love mo sa kaibigan, na kahit nagkakamali dahil wala namang perfect, hindi ka mauunang ijudge. Kasi kaibigan mo eh,” Karla ends. “Iba iba kaming personality pero it works kasi isa lang ang trip namin.

And that is, to be happy. Happy with their kids, their careers, in life, and of course, happy for and with each other.







Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA


Shot on Location at BRITTANY HOTELS BGC

More inspiring stories about showbiz moms!

Bianca King: Embracing a New Season as a Mom

Elisse Joson: Embodying Womanhood in Her Many Roles

Sunshine Cruz: The Ties That Bind

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