Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo started working in show business at the very young age of seven. Three decades since, Juday—as everyone
in the industry and the rest the country affectionately calls her—has truly blossomed into a woman who is fulfilled in all aspects of her life.
For sure, Juday has had her share of controversies in her many years as a celebrity. But somehow, because of her success today as a mother and wife—besides her unfading gift for acting—Filipinos barely remember anything negative about her past.
Remarkably, in fact, everyone seems to be genuinely happy for the superstar of her generation, what with her ever going strong marriage to Ryan Agoncillo, and their growing brood, led by Yohan, 11, Lucho, 4, and Baby No. 3 in her tummy; as well as the many surprises she keeps on pulling off in her career to the delight of her fans.
Her latest coup is the publication of her very first book titled, Judy Ann’s Kitchen, this month, which officially adds “author” to her list of professional accomplishments as premiere actress, breakthrough host, and culinary arts graduate.
For all these positive developments in her life, Juday says all she has in heart is a huge sense of gratitude to everyone who has supported her from the very beginning of her career.
“It’s just unbelievable that I have all these supporters who would always follow [my career], would have good words to tell me, [and would even]defend me like I’m their own [family]. I will forever be grateful to all of them,” one of Philippine show business’ biggest celebrities told The Sunday Times Magazine in an exclusive interview following the private launch of her cookbook at the Swatch & Swatch Center in Makati City on June 19.
“I may not have met them all, I may not know their names, but deep in my heart, I’m very thankful to these people, because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have lasted this long in the industry, and be inspired to explore the other things I’m doing today,” she added.
“This is also why I strive to do more because I also want to inspire other people, especially young actors. Maybe from my experiences, I can guide them on how to be more professional in this industry,” she continued.
Asked how she is able to maintain a positive image in the often scandal-ridden world of showbiz, Juday had this to say: “Maybe because I’m a really transparent person, and I’ve always been that way from Day 1. If I’m sad, people can see it. I also can’t and don’t lie because what’s the point of lying? Eventually people will discover the truth, and you would’ve just tarnished your name.”
Her love for what she does and what she has today, according to Juday is the source of all her positive energy. Growing up in the cutthroat world of show business, she has also learned to invest in good relationships.
“When you do that, in the long run, if you still want to work with them and vice versa, wala kayong masamang pinanggagalingan,” she explained.
Juday’s pregnancy was officially announced by her husband Ryan on June 10 on GMA Network’s long running noontime show Eat Bulaga, in which he is one of the hosts.
Nine days later at the launch of Judy Ann’s Kitchen, it was finally her turn to talk about the newest blessing to the Agoncillo family.
Asked by The Sunday Times Magazine if the couple planned the pregnancy, she replied, “We’ve been trying to have a baby for the longest time, but we’ve never really worried about it. For us, it was ‘If it happens, it happens’.”
According to the actress, she would have been oblivious of her condition if not for a friend from Japan who told Juday she dreamt she was pregnant. Only then did the actress realize she had actually missed her period the previous month, which a pregnancy test confirmed.
“Ryan and I were both so happy because we’ve been praying for a new baby,” the mom anew enthused.
Before making the happy news public, Juday insisted on making sure their new baby had a heartbeat with a visit to her obstetrician. After that, she gave Ryan the go signal to talk on Eat Bulaga.
With her second child Lucho already turning five this year, Juday acknowledged that the timing is right for the family to have another baby. “Marunong nang mangatwiran [he knows how to talk back already],” she joked.
The glowing mom is even happier that both Yohan and Lucho are very excited to have another sibling.
“Every day [since we found out about the pregnancy]they will say ‘good morning’ to my stomach,” she proudly related. “When they arrive from school or if I fetch them, they will also touch my tummy to check on the baby. And we always talk about the baby over breakfast . . . Lucho will always prefer a boy and Yohan will always prefer a girl. But for me, as long as the baby is normal and healthy, I’m happy with either. That’s what Ryan and I always say.”
Proof that her family is now her first priority, Juday has decided to take on a lesser work load in the next several months for the safety of the baby. And again, she is grateful that her home network ABS-CBN has also prioritized her welfare with the decision to “wait” for their prized talent who was scheduled to star in the drama series Someone To Watch Over Me with Richard Yap.
“In support of her pregnancy, Judy Ann’s first team up with Richard Yap has been temporarily put on hold and will resume production once Judy Ann is ready go back to work,” ABS-CBN’s official statement read.
Asked how she felt about the turn of events, the equally loyal talent replied, “I almost cried when Sir Deo [Endrinal] told me about the decision of Dreamscape. I was touched because I was more than willing to give up the project. I didn’t want to be unfair to the rest of the cast because even if I love the role, I didn’t want to be branded unprofessional and selfish.”
Edrinal is the head of TV production business unit, as well as Dreamscape Entertainment Television, which has produced many of ABS-CBN’s most successful teleseryes.
A light, romantic but action-packed story line, Someone To Watch Over Me would require the actress to engage in physical scenes, and it was clear that such a project could put her pregnancy at risk
“I’m OK with TV appearances and hosting gigs—nothing too stressful. I also don’t think I can handle heavy drama scenes,” said the country’s Queen of Soap Operas.
As she takes care of herself for her new baby, Juday can still manage to promote her “other new baby,” which is Judy Ann’s Kitchen. Published by Anvil Publishing, the cookbook features the actress’ personal recipes and dishes cooks for her family.
Besides her love for acting, Juday has long developed a passion for cooking. She pursued her hobby more seriously when she studied and graduated at the Center for Asian Culinary Arts Studies under the renowned chef Gene Gonzalez.
She cemented her image as a promising cook and kitchen expert when she became host for Philippine adaptations of reality series Master Chef and Junior Master Chef. Her Instagram account (@officialjuday) has also served as her recipe book of sorts with photos of her dishes, even making popular the hashtag #dirtybreakfast, which was coined by her husband who would eat the breakfast his wife prepared even when he is still “dirty” from his morning’s exercise.
Asked what can be expected from her cookbook, Juday shared, “The dishes in the book are those that I serve at home. There’s a chapter on the meals I made for Ryan when we first moved into our house. There are also recipes for dishes I cooked for my kids’ parties. I also included sections on cakes and cookies and healthy organic food so readers will have plenty of options.”
Now available for fellow mommies and budding chefs, Judy Ann’s Kitchen is a dream-come-true for the passionate cook.
“I love reading cookbooks. It has always been my dream to have my very own cookbook but I never thought that it would become a reality,” she gushed.
Is Judy Ann’s Kitchen a one-off or does the country’s newest author have future plans for future titles?
“I think so!” she enthused. “Because now, ideas just keep on coming that all of a sudden, I want to do another cookbook again. I’m just really happy that apart from being on vacation because of my pregnancy, I can do actually do this all over again.”