TAGS: alfonso's house, neri miranda, neri naig, neri naig business, neri naig-miranda, neri's bakeshop, neri's cottage, neri's gourmet tuyo, neri's not-so-secret-garden, very neri beddings and sleepwear

Photography: Stephen Capuchino

The inviting aroma of brewing coffee wafting through the air along the highway in Alfonso town in Cavite leads to the blue doors of a quaint café. Behind those doors stands the café owner, whose familiar face and warm smile instantly put the guests at ease.

She’s no other than actress Neri Naig-Miranda, who first gained prominence as a contestant in the 2004 reality TV show, Star Circle Quest (Batch 1). These days, she enjoys her real-life roles as wife of Parokya ni Edgar lead vocalist and chief songwriter Chito Miranda, and mother to their only child, a son they’ve named Miggy.

Evident in the way she welcomes everyone who enters her café, Neri has remained the bubbly and charming gal we’ve all loved on TV. But, as she sits down with the StarStudio.ph team for an interview, she confides that life has definitely turned around for her.

Neri and Chito tied the knot in a civil ceremony in Taguig City on December 13, 2014. The next day, they had a garden wedding in Tagaytay. Nearly 5 years later, Neri tells us that a typical day for her nowadays simply starts and ends by attending to her family and her businesses.

Photo from Instagram (@mrsnerimiranda).

“Kapag hindi market day, sa bahay ako hanggang 9,” the hands-on wife and mom begins narrating what she does, starting in the morning. “Pero pag market day like Mondays, Thursdays, Sundays, ’yun, namamalengke ako. Umaalis ako ng 6, tulog pa niyan si Miggy. So pagbalik ko, mga 8, siyempre maliligo muna ako pag galing palengke. ’Tapos ’yun, laruin ko muna siya, hintayin ko siyang magising. ’Tapos prepare ko ’yung breakfast niya, ’tapos maglalaro lang siya.”

Now that Neri’s café has become busy, the mompreneur has to take extra measures in managing her time between her businesses and being a mother.

“And then pag tanghali, pagkatapos ko mag-settle na dito, balik ako kay Miggy,” she continues giving a rundown of her typical day. “Papakainin ko, patutulugin ko. Pag tulog na niya, minsan pag hindi masyadong busy dito, puwede akong maka-nap doon or pag maraming tao like weekends, diretso agad ako [dito] basta mapatulog ko lang si Miggy.”

“Minsan, tatawag sa akin si Miggy pag hapon, pupunta kami sa Timezone or sa zoo,” she adds, mentioning the places her son likes going to. “’Tapos ihahatid ko siya sa bahay, tapos magsasara ako [ng café].”

Neri is a hands-on mompreneur.  Photo from Instagram (@mrsnerimiranda).

How she’s able to balance everything on her plate also surprises her, and apparently, it’s one of the many lessons she’s picked up from being a mother.

“Alam mo ’yung mga akala mong hindi mo kayang gawin, magagawa mo,” she beams. “’Yung strength mo, hindi mo alam kung sa’n mo nakukuha. Dati no’ng dalaga ako, ‘Ah, tinatamad ako.’ Ngayon, Diyos ko, ang dami kong ginagawa. Dire-diretso, ganyan. ’Tapos may energy pa ako pag-uwi kasi kailangan kong makipaglaro sa anak ko. ’Tapos pagtapos ko makipaglaro, mapatulog ko siya, ’yung mabihisan ko siya.”

“Kailangan ko pang i-check ’yung report each store,” she adds, turning to her workers. “Mine-meeting ko pa ’tong mga ’to, every day, every night. ’Tapos mag-re-research ka pa kung anong bago, ’yung mga i-a-add, kung saan nagkamali.”

Through it all, Neri has Miggy as her inspiration to keep going. “And, malaking rason na inspirasyon mo, anak mo,” she points out. “Kasi parang go lang ako ng go. Lagi nilang sinasabi sa akin, ‘Hindi ka ba napapagod?’ Sabi ko, ‘Para kay Miggy.’ Kasi laki ako sa hirap, sabi ko, paglaki ko, kung ano man ’yung hindi ko na-experience, ibibigay ko sa anak ko.”

Neri (seated, leftmost) and the rest of her Naig relatives in a family portrait. Photo from Instagram (@mrsnerimiranda).

True enough, all of Neri’s hard work is deeply rooted from her experiences growing up. Unknown to a lot of people, she had a simple backstory before she entered showbiz. Her simple life was marked by childhood memories of tending to their pigs and carrying ‘kaning-baboy’ around the Subic area; and selling homemade barbeque and ‘lutong-ulam’ as a high school student, when they moved to Baguio.

She says now that she had no complaints, just lessons and values learned from her parents, especially her mother, Mommy Lita. Mommy Lita taught her four children how to be contented with what they have.

“Kung anong meron diyan, ’yun lang,” Neri remembers her mother telling her and her siblings. “Hindi namin kino-compare ’yung sarili namin [sa iba]. Ang saya ng childhood ko kahit naglilinis ako ng dumi ng baboy, nagtatanim-tanim kami.”

She goes on laughing at how she had to borrow money for the family at times. “Hindi ako nagre-reklamo kasi nag-e-enjoy ako,” she explains. “Nangungutang ako, ako ang taga-utang nila kasi ako ang bunso. Di ba pasa-pasa?” 

Mommy Neri and Miggy share sweet moments. Photo from Instagram (@mrsnerimiranda).

Apart from lessons in life, Neri also draws inspiration from Mommy Lita in raising Miggy.

“’Yung mommy ko kasi hindi siya ’yung sweet-sweetan na [nagsasabi ng] ‘I love you,’” she says. “Siguro ’yung mga hinahanap ko sa Mommy ko dati, ginagawa ko sa anak ko ngayon. So hindi siya gano’n ka-sweet. Ngayon-ngayon na lang na naging lola siya kasi siyempre may mga outspoken na apo, di ba?”

She also mentions what she’s learned from her mom about being a wife: “‘Pag nag-aaway sila ng Daddy ko, alam kong nag-aaway sila, pero never siyang nag-salita ng negative sa tatay ko, kahit ano. ’Yun ’yung magagandang traits na natutunan ko sa kanya, saka [paglu]luto.”

Chito and Neri had a lovely garden wedding in Tagaytay on December 14, 2014. Photo from Instagram (@mrsnerimiranda).

Neri saves those lessons as little reminders in her back pocket. She also reveals the secret behind the success of her own marriage. “Respeto,” she states. “Kasi kahit sabihin mong mahal mo siya, kung wala ’yun, wala rin talaga. Kailangan nakikinig ka. Kailangan marunong ka magbigay.”

She giggles as she announces that she’s not a nagging wife. “Opinionated si Chito, very very,” she notes of her husband. “Ako din, pero kasi ako mahaba ang pasensya ko. Si Chito kasi, ang pagkakaiba namin, pag may misunderstanding kami, kailangan niya sabihin agad, lahat-lahat, ’tapos paulit-ulit. Ako, kapag merong ano, hindi ako magsasalita.  Pero pag umiyak na ako, which is sobrang malimit lang, natatakot na siya. Nauuna na siyang umiyak, talagang nag-so-sorry na siya kasi alam niyang hindi ako umiiyak, pero pag nasaktan ako, alam na niya. [Sasabihin niya], ‘Sorry, baby.’”

As for her acting career, Neri says he’s happy to have given it up in favor of her family. “Oo, tagal na. Masaya ako dito, eh,” she smiles. “Pero kung minsan, may teleserye or movie [offer], sabi ko, no talaga kasi kay Miggy talaga ang focus ko. Iniisip ko, kaya ko pa bang umarte? Pero no’ng iniisip ko na’ yung byahe, eh ang layo ko, di ba (she has since been based in Alfonso, Cavite)? Pero at least happy ako na tinatanong pa rin nila sa akin kung puwede ako. Sabi ko, ‘Hindi pa po muna ngayon, masaya pa ako dito. Mas gusto ko muna magpaka-Mommy kay Miggy.’”

She also recalls the time when she asked Chito about leaving showbiz: “Sabi ko kay Chito, ‘Okey lang ba na kapag nagbuntis na ako, at nanganak na ako, hindi na ako mag-a-artista?’ Sabi niya, ‘Kaya mo naman?’ Sabi ko, ‘Oo naman!”

Her beautiful face brightens up even more. “Thankful din ako na biniyayaan ako ni God na may ganito ako, na may business ako dito sa Alfonso,” she says. 

And speaking of pregnancy, Neri reveals that she and her husband are planning on Baby No. 2 this year! Will it be another little Chito, or a little Neri this time? Miggy’s mother can’t wait to find out.

Art Direction: Ian Reyno

Hair & Make-Up: Ogie Waban

Assisted by: Julius Orallo