Ayen Laurel bows out of ‘Ikaw lang Ang Iibigin’
In the thick of her wonderfully challenging contravida role in ABS-CBN’s Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin, Ayen Munji-Laurel had to make the painful decision to take a graceful exit from the show because of her pregnancy.
Ayen, who is married to singer-actor Franco Laurel and the proud mother of four beautiful children, is on her fifth month. She plays the role of Victoria de la Vega in the soap. In the story, she complicates the life of the characters played by Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu.
Ayen’s end of the first trimester of her fifth pregnancy, she decided to quit, because, like in all her past pregnancies, this period proves to be high-risk and most challenging for her physically and emotionally. She is due to give birth on Dec. 12.
Ayen said they started working on the soap since October, last year. She found out she was unexpectedly pregnant in April, one month before the soap was launched on May 1. Knowing that the conflict in the story emanating from her character was until the end, her manager discussed with Dreamscape’s Deo Endrinal the changes that needed to be done since her tummy will show before the end of the program. Major changes were effected in the production, script re-written and her character underwent major revision.
In the meantime, Ayen lost a lot of weight. She couldn’t eat and was always throwing up. During tapings, Ayen said the production people already started to notice how much difficulty she was experiencing. “In fact,” Ayen said, “in a crying scene with Jake (Cuenca), I started to hyperventilate they had to call someone to check my pulse rate which was very high at that time. Hirap na talaga ako.”
So, instead of the original nine weeks to bow out of the show, it was reduced to eight weeks and had the script rewritten. Consequently, Victoria de la Vega reached the end of her saga. And it was quite a spectacle.
Ayen takes this opportunity also to appreciate ABS-CBN and Dreamscape for their unequivocal support for her through all of these. “They were very, very supportive and very caring. They even had a medical team on board while I was taping. They also reduced my cut-off time from 2 a.m. to 12 midnight. They were very considerate. I couldn’t ask for a better team. Sobrang bait nila,” she said.
Ayen confesses that in the beginning, she got depressed thinking of this unplanned pregnancy. “You have to understand that I am a planner. It’s hard to see my plans being vanquished in one fell swoop. Isa pa, at my age, the ratio of getting pregnant is only 2:2000. What are the chances that I will be part of the two? But I thank God for the wonderful support system that I have. My family and friends, and our church family were very supportive. I really feel the grace of God through them. The kids were so happy when we told them of the news,” Ayen narrated.
Ayen said that she is in a much better place now. “I have learned to accept it with all my heart. God showed me that no matter what I have planned for my life, in the end it is still God’s plans that will prevail. I’m enjoying my pregnancy and relishing the rest from all my days of non-stop working. Come to think of it, the only time I am really able to rest is when I get pregnant!” she said laughing.
She said she was about to launch an album when Angia, now 14 (with a voice of an angel) was conceived. For Sofia, 3, she also had to take a leave from the soap she was working on then on GMA-7.
“Maybe God knows that I will not voluntarily stop working that’s why He makes sure I get pregnant again when He thinks I needed to rest,” she joked.
The former princess also takes stock of the beautiful family life she has. She said she was reminded of the truth that all her children bring her so much joy.
Mariella, 26, is now trying her wings on stage acting, writing, and directing. In fact, come October, she will be launching her first directorial project, a sung-through musical where she will also be performing under the music division of Artists Playground’s Playlist. She also wants to study abroad to help hone her craft better. Television and films are also part of her future plans. Mariella has also been getting offers to do indie and short films and the good thing is, this early, she knows how to go about responding to these offers. “She knows what questions to ask,” Ayen said.
Of all her kids, Ayen says Mariella is the one most likely to follow in her footsteps. “I feel that this is the right time for her to penetrate this industry. She is ready, even her temperament is right,” Ayen said.
Her only son Hasan, 22, is also very musically inclined, a gift he certainly got from his grandfather Emy Munji. He plays bass guitar in a Christian band called Saved and is now on his junior year in college taking up Music Production. He is also interested in films.
Needless to say, the loving support Ayen gets most from is through her husband Franco. She said, “He is very supportive of me and he loves me and our kids. He also knows me very well. When I asked him ‘what’s the weirdest thing that could ever happen to us at our age?’ Franco knew the answer right away. He answered ‘don’t tell me you’re pregnant?’” That answer accounts for all the rest, indeed.
“So you see, truly my family is a blessing from God. And this baby is the completion of those blessings,” she concludes.