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Great expectations

Paolo and Samantha Valenciano are so ready to welcome their baby

Paolo Valenciano has always been bullish about having a baby girl with his wife of three years, Samantha, who is set to give birth to their first child in late October.

“I just felt that I wanted to have a daughter,” the 31-year-old actor/musician/concert and events director said at the baby shower organized last Sept. 10 by Aprica, a Japanese brand of babystrollers.

“The moment she got pregnant, I already said, ‘We’re going to name her Leia.’ And then she said, ‘Leia? We’re not even sure if it’s a boy or a girl.’ [I said,] ‘No, no, it’s a girl. So when I found out that it was a girl nga, I really.” He takes a brief pause. ”I broke down,” he unabashedly admits. “And I really got emotional. To this day, every time I see movies with father and daughter, I get really emotional. She’s not as emotional as me.”

BLESSED WITH A BABY GIRL First time parents Paolo and Samantha Valenciano at their baby shower (Manila Bulletin)

BLESSED WITH A BABY GIRL First time parents Paolo and Samantha Valenciano at their baby shower (Manila Bulletin)

“He’s more emotional,” Samantha confirms in a separate interview. “He gets emotional with movies if it has to do with a father and a daughter, or anything like that.”  But she’s quick to defend him. ”He’s not really a crybaby,” she smiles. “He had really been set on a girl since day one. Every time he’d pray at night, he’d always say ’she.’ And I have to remind him to say he or she because it could be a boy.”

“He really wanted a girl, eh,” she explains. “He grew up kasi taking care of a little sister, so he felt he knew how to take care of a girl more than a guy. That’s why he wanted to have a girl.”

Paolo is the eldest child of iconic singer and musician Gary Valenciano and Angeli Valenciano, founder of the talent management agency behind Gary’s career, Genesis. His younger siblings Gab, 28, and Kiana, 23, are in showbiz, too. Samantha, on the other hand, is the daughter ofJaime Godinez, who heads SoundCheck, a company that provides professional sound and lighting systems, and Gina Tabuena-Godinez, sister of another iconic singer Martin Nievera.

Paolo and Samantha were married in a Christian wedding in 2013. Three years later, Samantha got pregnant. She happily reports that she has not had a hard time being in the family way.

“I don’t know if this sounds too visual,” she says with a grin, “but I didn’t really go vomit or anything. I did feel nauseated, like I preferred to be just on the couch for the first trimester. I never had Paolo leave the house to get food for me. If he were out, if he were in the grocery, I’d ask him to get me chocolates like Hello Panda and Twin Popsies. Mostly chocolate stuff. But cravings, more of Paolo. Paolo was the one with cravings.”

There was just one thing, though, that she couldn’t stand, especially during the early stages of her pregnancy: the smell of garlic and dog food. Aside from those two things, her pregnancy has been smooth sailing. ”My doctor told me what I can and can’t have, but then she also told me as long as I’m eating, I’m good.”

Samantha is a photographer, graphic designer, and editor, but being pregnant didn’t require some lifestyle changes for this working mom-to-be.

“I work at home, so that’s not big a difference for me,” she says. ”Maybe my back hurts more because I sit a lot. I edit. I use computers a lot. So it’s harder for me to work because my back hurts after a while. Mostly just that, no drastic changes.”

“And I can’t work out na,” she adds, though, she doesn’t look she has gained a lot of weight. “My workouts before were boxing, so I had to give that up. Yoga, I’ve never really done, so I can’t start yoga. I think you’re not supposed to do yoga if you’ve never done yoga. I do a lot of walking!”

For his part, Paolo does his best to be always by his wife’s side. “For all the checkups and tests,” he says.

One time, he accompanied her to what turned out be a breastfeeding class. “She didn’t tell me it was a breastfeeding class and I didn’t think it was a breastfeeding class,” he recalls with a chuckle. “But she knew it was a pregnancy preparation thing. And then, I went. I was the only guy, but that was quite an experience.”

The first-time parents are excited for the arrival of their firstborn. “Nov. 1 is our due date,” Samantha says. “But our doctor told us to prepare like from the 11th [of October] onward. With hope, I’ll have a normal delivery. The baby’s in position. Yesterday was our most recent appointment with our doctor, and she said the baby’s ready.”

“Our only concern right now is that I have some concerts,” says Paolo, who’s directing the concert comeback of Sharon Cuneta on Oct. 15. ”The doctor just told us the whole second half of October, she can give birth na any time. So I’m very nervous.”

All his fears vanish when he thinks of fulfilling his dream of having a baby girl and finally calling her by her nickname Leia—as in Princess Leia, from the iconic Star Wars film franchise, of which Paolo professes to be a big fan.

Baby Leia’s full name will be Nathaleia Martine. “I wanted a longer name,” Samantha explains. “So I tried looking. I couldn’t find. And then I thought I made it [Nathaleia] up, but apparently, it’s a place in Africa. Martine, I just like the name. Paolo also has a Martin to his name.”