Sung by former child star and musical artist Aiza Seguerra, “Pagdating Ng Panahon (When The Time Comes)” became the most phenomenal hit in 2001. Because of the song’s beautiful melody, and more importantly, its timeless and touching lyrics, the original composition maintains its popularity to this day, an impressive decade-and-a-half later.
Back then, Seguerra had just traded acting for a recording career. She was enrolled in Music [later Fine Arts and Design]at the University of Santo Tomas but had to discontinue schooling.
“I’d attend my classes with eyebags as large as saucers because of the previous night’s gigs. Besides it was the peak of my music career kaya I decided to forego my studies. Samantalahin habang mainit (strike while the iron is hot),” she related to The Sunday Times Magazine in this one-on-one interview.
Since then, there had been no regrets for this Eat Bulaga discovery, for music became one of her most powerful ways of expressing herself in the different stages of her life.
Today, Seguerra is considered an OPM idol as a singer and songwriter; a proudly married lesbian; and a months’ old government servant. In all these, she found fulfillment in simply being true to herself.
Seguerra—who first found fame when she joined Eat Bulaga’s “Little Miss Philippines” contest in 1987—came out as lesbian in 2007. She now identifies herself as a transgender man, although she still needs to fulfill the physical and legal aspects of the gender.
“Legally, I doubt if ever it’s gonna happen as there’s no law favoring gender change in the Philippines. Maybe BB Gandanghari [formerly Rustom Padilla]could be an exception, but her case is different [from male to female].
Physically, there had been successful hormonal therapies [of people I know], but I haven’t gone through it yet,” she added.
Seguerra’s biggest concern about the procedure is the change it may bring, particularly to her voice, which of course is her main asset in her career.
“The voice will surely go deeper as I go through hormone therapy, but they say that can be adjusted,” she related. “One thing is sure though, I won’t grow hair because my father has no hair at all on his face, arms and legs. So
it’s a given I won’t grow hair either,” she chuckled.
Proud of who she is, Seguerra encourages those who suffer in secret to come out, declaring that being true to oneself is freedom.
“You can soar like a bird when you’re free – not withholding anything about yourself, and not being afraid that something might happen that could be damaging to your person,” she intimated passionately.
“It’s liberating not to carry any burden, or to be in constant fear. So I encourage those who have reservations or fears to just come out and be what they truly are.”
Marrying Liza Diño
On December 8, 2014, Seguerra wed former Mutya Ng Pilipinas and actress Liza Diño in San Francisco, California. Theirs, although not recognized by Philippine law, is the first ever female same sex marriage of well-known Filipino personalities.
To share their happiness with friends and family back home, they renewed their vows the following month in San Juan, Batangas, both proper and sensitive enough to call it “a symbolic ceremony” rather than a wedding rite.
The occasion was attended and witnessed by their parents as well as more than 500 relatives and friends, including Seguerra’s Eat Bulaga family, led by the legendary Tito, Vic and Joey.
“We actually had a short-lived liaison in 1999. I was 16, she was 18,” she revealed of her relationship with Diño.
Just last year, Seguerra realized her first hit song was actually meant for her wife.
“Na-realize ko na nakaka-relate pala ako. I wrote a song intended for Liza with a line that goes, ‘Hoping you’ll be mine [someday]’ so parang ‘Pagdating Ng Panahon’ din,” she said.
The former beauty queen’s father, Subic Bay Management Authority [SBMA] chairman Martin Diño said in a previous interview for his December 18, 2016 cover for The Sunday Times Magazine that his daughter-in-law is “more than a real man.” He is pleased with how she cares for her daughter and the latter’s little girl from a previous relationship.
“Just like in the TV commercial, ‘Kung saan ka masaya, suportahan ta ka’,” the SBMA Chair said about his daughter’s decision.
“Nag-meet na kami [Martin Diño] when I was 16, kaya kilala na niya ako,” she said.
Back in 2014, while preparing for a show at the Music Museum, the couple eagerly related to the press how their relationship developed.
It was the year 1999 and Seguerra was in fourth year high school at OB Montessori Greenhills. At that time, Diño and her boyfriend were having problems. Diño related she was oblivious to the thought whether she was lesbian or not at the time, but felt a strong attraction to the former child star, which Seguerra found laughable at first.
“Sa itsura kong ito, magkakagusto sa akin? Iba ang taste,” Seguerra chuckled.
“Liza would always pick me up. She had her own classes at UP but would bring me breakfast early in the morning, and we would eat together. I asked her about UPCAT [the University of the Philippines’ college entrance exam]since I was graduating from high school,” Seguerra continued.
“I remember I was in Sta. Maria, Bulacan when she called to say she got the UPCAT form for me. I told her I’d just get it from her later so imagine my surprise when after a few hours she showed up where I was! That made us real close.”
Nevertheless, just like in any friendship, there were things they did not agree on, and they parted ways.
One day, they bumped into each other at an upscale mall when Diño was heavy with child, obviously back in the arms of her problematic boyfriend.
Like Seguerra, Diño found herself affected by that accidental meeting, and realized she had feelings for her estranged friend. But as fate would have it, Diño went to the US while Seguerra got into a new relationship.
A confluence of events made them meet again when the former beauty queen got back from the US, with a baby daughter in tow.
Per Diño’s account, what was beautiful about how they got together was that they learned to know who they really are—Seguerra as a transgender and herself as straight female.
Meanwhile, Diño’s daughter has grown very close to her mother’s partner, and is her ”third most favorite person” after her parents.
“She calls me Baba,” said Seguerra, adding how happy she is that the eight year-old is very inclined to the arts, just like herself and Diño.
As everyone knows, Diño is currently chair of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), while Seguerra is the incumbent National Youth Council (NYC) chairman. Moreover, the former child star and singer has been tapped by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as this year’s National Literature Month Ambassador. Incidentally, the celebration kicks offs today on the occasion of the 229th birth anniversary of Francisco Baltazar or “Balagtas.”
Seguerra and Diño were staunch supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte leading to the May 2016 national elections.
Seguerra’s old movies as a child star are still shown on cable television, and what she remembers of doing them were her mishaps on set.
“What I vividly remember were the times na nadapa ako, na nauntog ako, na pumutok ang labi ko. At yung paggising ko, nasa school na pala ako at nakabihis na,” she related.
Cariza Yamson Seguerra was born as menopausal baby to Decoroso Seguerra of Quezon Province, and Caridad Yamson of Bicol on September 17, 1983.
Mommy Caring took her to audition for Eat Bulaga’s “Miss Little Philippines” contest when she was only three years old. A natural on camera, she was soon taken on as a regular on the noontime show, and then went on to do sitcoms such as Okay Ka, Fairy Ko, and movies starring Tito, Vic and Joey.
She started her recording career at Alpha Records in 1995 but made it big via Vicor Records in 2001. She then transferred to ABS-CBN, and signed on with the network’s recording arm, Star Records.
Only five years old when crowned Box-Office Queen by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation (GMMSF) for her Regal Entertainment movie Wake Up Little Susie, she further won a string of Best Child Actress and Best Child Performer awards from Famas, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), and the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC). She also won Best Performance By An Actress in the 2002 Asian TV Awards for her Malaala Mo Kaya Songbook episode.
For her music, she collected trophies from Awit Awards, Myx Music Awards, PMPC Star Awards for Music, ASAP Platinum Music Awards, and in 2013, won Female Recording Artist of the Year by GMMSF for “Anong Nangyari Sa Ating Dalawa.”
She has an album in the works, and while she did not want to disclose details yet, she promised an all-original album is coming up, probably in June.
“‘Pagdating Ng Panahon’ has been a phenomenal success. It’s not my goal to surpass that or even come close to it. Tama nang all-original naman ang gagawin ko.”
Into public service
By coincidence Seguerra’s Mommy Caring was visiting her daughter during The Sunday Times Magazine cover pictorial at the National Youth Commission.
“Kahapon pa yan pumunta dito kaso wala ako. Nagdala pa naman ng paborito ko, sinantolan,” the artist-cum-government appointee said.
Mommy Caring shared that it was her first time to visit her daughter at work. In fact, she got lost in finding the NYC office along Quezon Avenue the previous day. Nevertheless, she visits Seguerra at home with Diño and their little girl.
Asked how she supports Seguerra in her latest endeavor as head of a government agency, Mommy Caring zoomed in on the bashing that both her daughter and Diño endured on social media as soon as they were appointed.
“I just told her not to mind the destructive criticisms, and just focus on the work. Prove to them that she’s up to the job,” she averred.
Asked if she would consider a higher post in government in the future, perhaps run for Congress or the Senate, Seguerra replied, “Oh, not me. Si Liza siguro. I’m the type na nakikinig lang, observing what’s going around. Siya kasi, if she knows it’s right she’s gonna push for it, arguing to drive a point,” she said in clear admiration of her better half.
In fact, Seguerra said she never thought that she would get into government service, but somehow there were early signs. Her father worked with the Technology Livelihood and Research Center (TLRC), and back then, it crossed her mind to go into civil service.
“I thought about it before, but the corruption in government was too deep-rooted that I told myself never to get involved. It’s different now because we have a President whose crusade and marching order is to eliminate corruption, criminality and illegal drugs,” she said.
Deluged with meetings left and right, she still accepts gigs and shows.
“Kailangan ko pa ring kumita, puwede naman pag weekends,” she said.
Challenges as NYC chair
By legal definition, the youth sector is comprised of 15 to 30-year-olds, which make up almost a third [30 million out of 102 million] of Filipinos. This figure makes the Philippines an envy of many nations for a young populace that is generally educated, tech-savvy and well-versed in English.
When both Seguerra and Diño were offered positions in the Duterte administration, the singer opted for a post where she can effectively use her time, talent and influence.
“We never expected to be given any position as we supported him for the firm belief that Mayor Duterte was the only one who can steer the country out of the problems that had been hounding the nation for so long. I was asked first if I wanted to be in the MTRCB. Sa akin naman, I wanted something where I can be effective the most. At eto nga, sa NYC,” she disclosed.
As chair of the agency whose mandate is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, Seguerra wants the youth not just to be reactive but participative.
Her biggest challenge at first was reporting to work early. Like most people in show business, she is as night owl.
“The responsibility is not easy. I’m glad though that as we go around the country, the youths are receptive. I found out that many have not been aware that there is an agency that takes care of their needs,” she said.
In imbibing the words of national hero Jose Rizal said, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan [The youth is the hope of the nation],” Seguerra believes the concept of responsibility should also be added and emphasized.
“The youth have to be responsible – for themselves, for their family, for their community, for the nation. Let’s admit, hindi lahat ng kabataan ay responsable, so paano maging pag-asa ng bayan ang walang sense of responsibility,” she philosophized.
And finally, her message to the youth?
“Get involved, participate in nation-building,” Seguerra exclaimed.
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With additional information from dotr.gov.ph, wikipedia, and ncca.gov.ph.