(STAR) CONVERSATIONS With Ricky Lo - (PHOTO - With the arrival of her first child Nate Jacob (named after a Gossip Girl star), Krista Ranillo settles down to being Mrs. Nino Jefferson Lim in a quiet village in California. ‘I’m blessed,’ she says and shows it. Photos by RICKY LO)

It’s Sunday, Nov. 6, the Lims’ family day spent leisurely in this hilltop resort overlooking the ocean. A few days earlier, the couple, Nino Jefferson Lim and Krista Ranillo, were in nearby San Diego where Nino opened another branch of the family-owned business Island Pacific supermarket in National City (with almost a dozen outlets in Northern California and Southern California).

The Lims actually live in a well-appointed two-storey house at an exclusive subdivision in Valencia, almost three hours drive from. The house was blessed last July coinciding with their son, Nate Jacob (named after Krista’s favorite actor in Gossip Girl), who’s turning seven-months old today (born on April 6, also the birth month of both Niño and Krista).

The dinner at an expensive steakhouse is partly a celebration for Nate and partly a blowout for friends that included immigration lawyer Jemela Nettles, Tim Evans (of the US Immigration) and your Conversationalist).

Also present are Krista’s sister Trixie, brother Kevin (who has quit his job in Guam), and their parents, Mat Ranillo III and Lynda Tupaz (who’s nursing a little blood clot in her left eye caused by the hot shower she has taken.

“The doctor said it’s bad to take a warm bath during a cold, cold weather,” says Lynda, “kaya daw pumutok ‘yung small veins ko sa mata.”), plus Nate’s two Filipina nannies.

From the window of the steakhouse, we watch the seabirds hovering around flocks of penguins perched on giant rocks. The breath-taking view reminds us of Lake Como (where George Clooney has a villa). The resort is built around a beach and the roads wind up and down.

It’s almost 7 o’clock and the sun is just starting to set, turning the place into a virtual postcard bathed in myriad hues.

Some couples usually settle down complacent to life together. With Niño and Krista, it’s different. After getting married not just once but twice, first in civil rites in July last year and then in Jewish rites a month later, they are obviously on extended honeymoon mode, with Krista feeding Nino with Wagyu steak that she slices from Nino’s plate. They are living happily even after, ever after.

After the dinner, Conversations “corners” Krista for a free-wheeling chat while Nino, ever publicity-shy, begs off from being interviewed, politely refusing to make even brief comments.

You look sexier than you were when I saw you last May.

“I just gave birth a month earlier at that time. Nate is turning seven months today. We chose that name so that his initials would be the same as those of Niño.”

Do you still breastfeed Nate?

“Yes, I do, kasi I want to give Nate the best. He now weighs 18 lbs. They said that mother’s milk is the best for your baby, di ba?”

How’s life as Mrs. Niño Jefferson Lim?

“Medyo mahirap. Ngayon naka-adjust na ako, sometimes I also miss my old life.”

Old life? What do you mean?

“I don’t mean showbiz; I mean, ‘yung lumalabas-labas every now and then. I think I will do that when Nate grows bigger. Pero mahirap din siguro. Like now, pupunta kami ni Nino sa store. After only one hour, I would start missing Nate so I would rush home. Kaya ngayon, isinasama na lang namin siya. Kaya when we opened a store here, Nate is always with us anywhere we go.”

How else did Nate’s coming change your life?

“Ay naku, it’s true what they say that motherhood is really life-changing. You know, when you see your baby nawawala ang pagod mo. When I see Nate crawling and starting to talk, saying mostly ‘Daddy!’, nakakataba ng puso. You feel some kind of fulfillment.”

Maski daw may dalawang yaya si Nate, he still sleeps with you and Niño.

“Yes, he does. Otherwise, he cries and cries; he keeps looking for us. Medyo maarte na siya. Nangingilala na. I am a hands-on mom.”

Krista and Niño with son Nate and Krista’s family, her parents Lynda Tupaz and Mat Ranillo III, sister Trixie and brother Kevin

I asked Niño when you’re having your second baby. He said, “How can we when Nate sleeps between us?” Can’t you let Nate sleep with his nannies every now and then?

“I don’t think we can. Nate is really so attached to his dad. At night after I feed him, lumilipat na kaagad siya sa daddy niya. Sumisiksik talaga siya sa daddy niya.”

Can you describe a day in your life.

“We wake up at 7:30 a.m. We check the stores (with 10 outlets all over Northern California and Southern California). Kung ako dati panay showbiz, now I’m becoming business-minded. Tinuturuan ako ni Niño. I help him run our stores. Sa food-service division ako, which caters to our Filipino clients, and Niño is in-charge of the groceries and supermarkets. Now, we are expanding, so we hardly stay put in just one place. Paikut-ikot kami.”

Any other activities?

“I also have personal activities, like ‘yung cooking-cooking namin with our neighbors in Valencia.”

So you are not able to put to use your college degree (AB Interdisciplinary Studies at Ateneo where she graduated with honors)?

“I still can. I also studied Communications, which I can use in dealing with our clients, and Psychology/Child Development which I can use naman in raising our child.”

Mabuti naman at you are already well-adjusted to life in the US.

“Yes. Before, I would ask myself, ‘Bakit kaya ako napunta dito?’ Now I realize that things are coming into place. Before, I would come to visit my family here and then I would go back to Manila. I never imagined that I would settle down here kasi nga ang buhay ko talaga ay sa Manila. When I look back and connect the dots, everything makes sense.”

Don’t you miss showbiz?

“Of course, I miss showbiz siempre dahil lumaki ako d’yan, eh. But I wouldn’t change my life here for the world.”

So no more showbiz na talaga?

“Well, sometimes there are offers but I have to weigh the situation: Family life ba o balik-showbiz? Family will always come first.”

What will make you change your mind about showbiz, a good offer? How will you make Nino say “Yes” if and when?

“I don’t think he will let me. But yes, we might go back to the Philippines next year not for me to return to showbiz. Our best friend is getting married and we want to attend the wedding.”

But are you in touch with showbiz?

“Yes, I’m up-to-date. I subscribe to Pinoy TV (GMA 7’s international relay network). I also surf in the Internet for the latest in showbiz back home.”

What are your plans for Nate?

“We have just enrolled him in a play school. Every Tuesday, he attends classes in socialization. Niño wants Nate to learn how to speak Chinese. May pagka-showbiz si Nate, so some people are telling us, ‘O, ipasok n’yo siya sa showbiz.’ He is a very happy baby. When you tell him to smile, he smiles broadly at hinahanap kung saan ang kamera. But if Nino had a choice, he would like Nate to be in business.”

Kumusta naman ang adjustment mo sa married life?

“Smooth naman. Niño is very caring. He’s family-centered. You think that if you marry a businessman, business will always come first sa kanya. Not Nino. Family is first and foremost. Every day, he would drive back and forth between Valencia and San Diego, umuuwi siya araw-araw just to be with me and Nate. And it’s five-hours drive one way!”

By the way, are you still pushing through with your plan to get married in church in the Philippines?

“It depends. Tingnan na lang natin.”

Lola Lynda and Lolo Mat help Krista and Niño take care of Nate

Maybe you will have to wait for Nate muna to grow up before you get married.

“I think so. He will be our ring bearer.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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