Queen of Soap Operas Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo now plays a new role and her most fulfilling one yet: a mother to Yohan, Lucho, and Luna
With three kids and a new hit online cooking show, Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo returns to show business. Dubbed the Queen of Soap Operas, the powerhouse actress now pursues passion projects while also taking on new and challenging roles both on-screen and at home. Nowadays, she prioritizes keeping a strong and fun relationship with her husband, Ryan Agoncillo, and being a hands-on mom to Yohan, Lucho, and Luna.
“Siguro I am at the most content and comfortable state of my life.”
A Look Back
From the late 80s to most of the 00s, Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo was a staple on TV screens and on the silver screen before taking some time off to focus on her family. Now that she’s made a comeback in mainstream media, she admits being surprised that she’s still in the industry. “I never thought naman na I’d still be acting at this point in my life,” she recounts as she looks back at her beginnings in show business. “I’ve been in the business for more than three decades already, so naging part na talaga siya ng buhay ko,” she adds.
Judy Ann fondly remembers her childhood days spent on set with actors and crew who she now considers family. “Up until now, whenever I see them I get teary-eyed kasi kilala ko sila nang totoong-totoo at kilala talaga nila ako. Nakita nila akong lumaki.” Although she grew up without her biological father in the picture, Judy Ann still feels blessed because of the various father figures she had in the people she worked with. She reminisces, “The cameramen, I would sleep on their laps and eat with them. We really are family.”
Even though she grew up in the limelight, Judy Ann remains grounded, a trait she learned from working with actors she looked up to. “I would listen to their stories and then I realize na lang na tumatatak sa akin mga sinasabi nila.” She recalls witnessing the professionalism Diamond Star Maricel Soriano gave a premium on hygiene and punctuality from an early age. “Sa hygiene si Maricel Soriano yung idol ko talaga. When I was around 7, she would clean my ears, she would cut my nails. She took care of me like her little sister.” Likewise, veteran artist Zsa Zsa Padilla taught her to be patient and gracious at all times, “Sa kanya ko natutunan na wala akong karapatan magreklamo because I’m very fortunate to have this kind of job,” she says.
“Please be appreciative of what you have because what you have now is really just temporary.”
Taking the Lead
While Judy Ann knows that she will always answer to bosses in her future projects in the industry, there is one project she wants to have the say in: her online cooking show, Judy Ann’s Kitchen.
Long before Judy Ann’s Kitchen began, various people suggested she create a cooking show or start a restaurant. When she decided to pursue this as a passion project, she was firm on making sure she had the say on what happens and goes on in the show, “When it comes to my passion, I want na ako lang may say,” she asserts.
In this incredibly personal venture, she and her staff collaborate on writing recipes and scripts, as well as shopping for ingredients. It is also important for her to stay real and raw, “Feeling ko lang it’s not realistic na hindi mo pinapakita yung mga mali. So for me, I want to be an inspiration sa mga taong gustong matuto magluto. Kaya sabi ko ‘you know, just shoot me regardless kung maganda yung turn out nung pagkain o kung hindi.’ Just so people would feel that it’s totally fine na magkamali ka sa pagluluto.” The result is a fun and quirky cooking show that features Judy Ann curating dishes paired with witty one-liners and humorous quips.
At the end of the day, Judy Ann turns to cooking in making herself and the people around her happy. She shares, “That’s where I find comfort. That’s when I find myself really smiling; when someone’s actually appreciating me, not just because I’m an actress, but really because I did something really beautiful out of the food that I make.”
“I think the key to a healthy relationship is to listen to each other and actually adjust.”
A Fun-Filled Union
Both Ryan and Judy Ann know that just because they’ve been together for over a decade doesn’t mean that they already know everything about each other. “Syempre as you get older, nagbabago rin mga ugali niyo, nagbabago na kayo ng mga interests so you adjust.” For this reason, they are both open to conversations about what they can improve individually and as a couple. “I always look forward to a trip na kaming dalawa lang. That’s the time na we reconnect and discover something new about each other,” Judy Ann reveals.
Above all, the couple makes sure to keep their relationship enjoyable, “We make it a point to have fun pa rin,” she says. Known widely by the public, the Santos-Agoncillo marriage is one that is filled with light-hearted joy and laughter.
“When you’re a mom, hangga’t maaari, sa bawat milestone ng anak gusto mo nandoon ka.”
Always Family First
Between the flourishing acting career and pursuing her passion project, Judy Ann has an already busy schedule. Although what makes her life full is the one she prioritizes the most: her family. As her fans see how hands-on she is as a mom, she is even more involved behind the scenes, which her team is supportive of.
At the beginning of each school year, Judy Ann and her team plots out important dates and ceremonies at Yohan’s, Lucho’s, and Luna’s schools to make sure she can attend most, if not all of them. When jobs come that coincide with these events, the actress tries to haggle call times. If she has to be a little late then she’ll work overtime as a compromise. She says, “I am so thankful na yung mga nakakatrabaho ko ngayon, they allow me to do these things.”
As a mother, she feels a deep sadness when she is unable to attend to her kids first. For this reason, she is grateful for the people she works with now who allow her to put her family first. Additionally, she shares that the kindness she is shown now is the product of years of professionalism and fellowship she has shown cast, crew, and management alike, “Very understanding sila and bunga iyan noong pinagtrabahuhan kong tinanim na pakikisama sa mga tao,” she reveals.
Judy Ann admits that she always planned to focus on her family. It was important to her to be there during the first years of each of her kids’ lives for all their important milestones. Luckily, she and Ryan have kids who are as laidback as they are. They love just being with each other, having dinner together, watching movies, swimming, or just running around the house—her kids particularly like time with their dad. “Gustong-gusto nila ng time with their dad, yung meron silang tickle wars. I love just watching them,” she laughs.
“Kapag nakikita mo lang na masayang-masaya mga anak mo with little things, mararamdaman mo na lang biglang nakangiti ka na rin.”
Now that Yohan is 13 years old, Lucho is 7 years old, and Luna is 2 years old, she shares that it’s a different ball game when it comes to communicating with them and dealing with their individual needs. Judy Ann states, “At the end of the day when I pray, I would ask for guidance and forgiveness.” As a mother, when her kids approach her asking for advice for personal issues or fights with their friends, she initially thinks to do whatever it takes to protect her child. Although she knows that she has to calm herself down to be able to give her kids level-headed advice that also considers the other side of the argument. “Every day, you learn something new from your child. You have to convince yourself to be more patient, more understanding, and to listen more carefully,” she adds.
If there’s one thing she wishes to instill in her kids, it’s to be adaptable. She shares, “From when they are small, you plant a seed for them to be able to be better people when they’re older. That would actually be a survival skill—kapag marunong sila makisama.” Judy Ann reveals that knowing how to adjust to the demands of a situation and the kinds of people she interacts with actually helps her thrive in any given environment.
She also adds that being gracious to everyone around her, especially those who help her daily, is a trait that she teaches her three kids by example. “I just make it a point na yung mga tao, like my staff and my angels at home, I take really good care of them. They matter to me kasi hindi rin naman magiging ganito ka-komportable buhay ko kung hindi naman din dahil sa kanila. So that’s what we teach our children.”
“I just really try to enjoy every change, every twist and turn of life.”
On Looking Her Best
Like many, when she was younger, Judy Ann Santos- Agoncillo didn’t give a premium on skincare.
Although, now that she’s older and a mother of three, she admits that she has more products on her bathroom counter. She has the staples: eye creams, lip moisturizers, and products targeting wrinkles. While this is in pursuit of looking more youthful, Judy Ann shares that it’s also for overall health as well. “I get involved and I get interested in things about health,” she states.
Words: Mara Madrid | Sittings Editor: Marga Medrano-Tupaz | Photos: Yukie Sarto of Studio 100 | Additional photos courtesy of: Judy Ann Santos (@officialjuday on Instagram) | Styling: Maita Bello | Hair: Jeff Aromin | Makeup: Juan Sarte | Nails: Luz Romaldon