How Joel Cruz planned his fatherhood

The hardworking entrepreneur behind Aficionado applied the same diligence to having his twins–from choosing a blonde surrogate to screening their entourage of nannies

A+
A
A-

DINING in high style with exquisitely carved furniture and Italian chandeliers

JOEL Cruz with Prince Sean and Princess Synne in their gold colored nursery

Entrepreneur Joel Cruz made his fortune from his fragrance brand Aficionado. The fruits of his hard work are evident in his condominium.

The decor mimics the golden resplendence of the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. He recalls that on seeing the rooms overlooking the Jumeirah River, Cruz realized that his unit offered a view of Manila Bay.

Thus, he painted walls in gold and matched them with ornately carved gilt furniture by Muebles Italiano that cost millions. However, his most priceless possessions are his twins, Prince Sean and Princess Synne,  whose names mean “gift from God.”

They are the result of in vitro fertilization from a Ukranian mother.

Brokered arrangement

For so long, Cruz wanted to have a family. He didn’t want adoption because he wanted the child to be genetically linked to him. He then consulted a Singaporean doctor in a fertility clinic for the possibilities of  in vitro fertilization.

Cruz flew to Singapore several times for IVF cycles. The initial tests revealed low sperm count and some abnormalities. Then there were more procedures such as checkups, and the pairing of the mature egg with the sperms for the embryo to grow and medication. But the efforts failed, and Cruz lost interest.

Two years later, he met a lady Filipino doctor in the same fertility clinic. He had three Filipino surrogates for the transfer of the embryos into their uterus. The three attempts floundered.

“I got depressed. I said, ‘Let’s not do it here,’” he recalls.

After brainstorming in his office, Cruz checked the web, and found an agency/law firm that brokered arrangements between surrogate mothers and prospective parents. Unlike in other countries which have laws that allowed only married couples for surrogate parenthood, Cruz learned that Russia was liberal with singletons.

GILT-LADEN home with furniture from Muebles Italiano and artworks from Italy.
PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

In 2011, the agency in Moscow, Rosjur Consulting, sent him profiles of potential surrogate mothers. He favored Lilia, a leggy, six-foot blonde who resembled Julia Roberts. Her reproductive history revealed that she has been a surrogate mother to a Frenchman.

Lilia finally delivered Cruz’s twins on Sept. 4, 2012. Two days after their birth, Cruz received photos of the twins. Although they had light brown hair and alabaster skin, they looked Filipino.

“The girl looks like my youngest brother, Michael. She’s got those chubby cheeks.  Prince looks like my nephew, Romnick. He has almond eyes and his eyebrows are like mine,” says Cruz.

Before Cruz went to Moscow to get his children, he practiced how to carry babies, using a doll. He says the anatomy and child psychology courses he took in pre-med school at the University of Santo Tomas proved useful.

Lilia gave birth in one of the best hospitals in Moscow. After delivery, she was  moved to a more affordable hospital to take care of the twins while waiting for their father. In all, he spent some P7 million for the entire surrogacy. Cruz expressed his gratitude to Lilia for going through the risks of labor for him and for maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout her pregnancy.

CCTV

Cruz is as meticulous in parenting as he is with his business. If he keeps a slew of auditors to watch the bottom line, he has “The Entourage”—composed of a nurse, three nannies, a bodyguard, a security guard and driver just for the twins. The nannies work in two shifts. They wear the caregiver’s uniform and face masks to protect the twins from their sniffles and coughs.

“For me, they are not the usual babies who were conceived through natural methods. They need extra care. They might be  easily susceptible to diseases. For one year, I have to do this,” he says.

Asked about the Entourage, Cruz explains: “I don’t know if I’m overprotective. I don’t sleep with them. I see them for limited hours.” On weekdays, he sees them at their wake-up time of 4 a.m., which is also Cruz’s bedtime. Upon arising at 11 a.m., he plays with them. Before he goes to the office at 2 p.m., he meets them again.

The twins are asleep when he comes home after 9 p.m. From Friday night to Monday morning, Cruz and his twins enjoy their Tagaytay weekend home.

Their nursery is secured with monitors and CCTV cameras. In case the nanny is remiss in her duties or sleeping on the job and the baby wakes up, the guard would inform them. At work, Cruz’s laptop also monitors the babies. He calls up the nanny if she’s not in the room and Prince Sean is crying.

“In the absence of a mother, I take care of them. I don’t want them to complain that they cried for 30 minutes because they weren’t given milk,” says Cruz.

Pushing eight months, the twins are showing signs of self-reliance. “They can sit on their own. But they grab anything and put it inside their mouth. It could be your hair or a pencil. This needs attention,” he says.

On the day of the interview, Cruz brought the twins to their pediatrician. “Prince is heavier but he’s not fat because he burns calories. Princess is taller and lighter, but less active,” says the father.

Nanny problems

The twins have very distinct personalities, says Cruz. “Princess is jolly. She smiles a lot and she’s always behaved. I have no headaches. When she wakes up, she doesn’t cry. She stays in bed and plays by herself. She’s not demanding. She looks up to the ceiling and takes the toy beside her.

“Prince demands attention. He likes to be carried a lot, but I don’t want to spoil them. I want them to be independent. I need to limit the picking up by the yaya or me. I don’t want them to get too attached.”

Cruz is discovering that his twins are precocious. From the day they came home, they’ve been exposed to nursery songs and classical music. When they watch educational TV, they are attentive. “I call them but they are focused. I find them smart,” he observes.

He has also experienced the pressures of having a sick baby. Days after her birth, Princess Synne contacted urinary tract infection and had to prolong her stay at the hospital. When Synne caught the flu in Tagaytay, Cruz tried to keep calm. The doctor advised him to let her skin breathe instead of bundling her up and giving some medicine.

Coming from a close-knit family, Cruz gets a lot of advice. He often confers with his siblings regarding the Entourage. Nurses and nannies underwent careful screening by the human resources manager and the general manager of Aficionado before they were hired.

Still, many didn’t make the cut. He has sacked six nannies and three nurses. Some came with exaggerated resumés but turned out to be clumsy in handling the infants.

Now he has to deal with competition. “I was advised that it’s not good to be changing nannies all the time because the children have to adjust. At first, the nannies or the nurse are very professional, but then they get into rivalry.”

Ultimately, Cruz hopes to be a good parent to his kids. “Having twins means double work. I have to record my time with them. If I carry my daughter for 15 minutes, I have to carry my son for 15 minutes. That is my practice. I don’t want them to think someone is favored over the other.”

On his children’s future, he says: “Most parents have dreams for their children. For me, it’s the other way around. I want to know what they want. As they grow older, I have to observe their inclinations. My mother was traditional. She wanted her seven children to be professionals. She wanted me to be a doctor, but I followed my passion. I want my kids to be in a career where their hearts are in it.”

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Iggy Ramirez

    I think he can provide the best possible care and welfare for the children.

    This is a free country and he can do whatever he wants as long as nobody is hurt or it is not against the law. You may have perfect heterosexual parents but most of them actually are poorer than the poorest rat.

    If I can afford to choose beautiful children, I still would have done the same. Why would I choose ugly children? They are a disgrace to this world.

  • KaEnchong

    The church had been very vocal against the RH Law because contraception is unnatural. I cannot understand the church’s silence this time.

    • ThudOthwacker

      LOL You can’t really help it do you? Blame everything on the church.
      Morally this is wrong.
      The Philippines have no law on surrogacy. But under the citizen law those children are alien. This is a matter for the immigration to worry.

      • efriend

        Yay. The morality police aka loose canons! Think Talibans!

      • ThudOthwacker

        The village idiot have reacted with incomprehensible phrases. Only he could understand. LOL

        You don’t have to be religious to know what is ethically right.

      • efriend

        And who do you think you are to be our guardian of morality who draws the line for other people’s ethical standards?

      • ThudOthwacker

        I don’t know what type of hole you crawled out. But in this country, there is an acceptable behavioral standards set by society.

        Don’t you have a sociology class in college?

        BTW, What reason do you have to drag the church on this topic? You ignorant heretic!

      • efriend

        Taliban!!!!

      • ThudOthwacker

        IMBECILE!!!

      • efriend

        Hypocrites!

      • ThudOthwacker

        You can thumb down me all you want. That will not change the fact. That you are still an IMBECILE!

      • efriend

        An advocate of the church spreads hate that even JC will lose his temper if he learns about this. Acceptable behavioral standard? FU

      • ThudOthwacker

        “An advocate of the church spreads hate that even JC will lose his temper if he learns about this. Acceptable behavioral standard?” ~efriend

        LOL Wow!! The nerve of you to mention JESUS. When you clearly promote alternative lifestyle. Supporter of the RH which run opposite to the teaching of CHRIST that the church tried hard to protect the value of life.

        You are an IMBECILIC and TWISTED inhuman being.

      • efriend

        Do you seriously believe that JC will love you for hating someone you haven’t met? I am not surprised anymore why people are leaving your Church in droves.

      • ThudOthwacker

        People who leave the church are weak. They will answer that come judgement day. As for you, Lucifer’s advocate promoting a lifestyle contrary to the teaching of GOD. How DARE you used JESUS CHRIST for your twisted and sick philosophy?

        I wrote this once. I’ll will write it again. You are a confused IMBECILE!!!!

      • efriend

        Do you seriously believe that you will enter the gates of heaven by labeling me as IMBECILE? You are a sad reflection of what JC is not. The nerve…

      • ThudOthwacker

        I will answer my sin for myself.

        You are still a confused IMBECILIC broke back mountaineer.

        Don’t mention JESUS CHRIST to support your twisted and corrupted lifestyle, DOPEY!!!

      • efriend

        Oh thank you. Then Joel Cruz will answer for his actions too without interventions from the hypocrites. Gotcha! Hosanna in the Talibans!

      • ThudOthwacker

        “Gotcha! ” ~efriend

        For finally realizing how asinine your reasons and being a confused IMBECILE broke back mountaineer you are.

        Read all my comments again, DOLT! I said what his doing is morally wrong according to the social mores. His lifestyle he will definitely answer that to the living GOD.

        For you using GOD’s name in vain and condemning his church. As well as a willing participant of alternative lifestyle. Will DEFINITELY go to HELL!

        “Hosanna in the Talibans!” ~efriend

        LOL There you go again using words you don’t know what it means. What a DIMWIT you are.

        “Hosanna” is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. While taliban is a Pashto. Mixing it together, figuratively and literally its meaningless, DUMDUM!

      • efriend

        What social mores? This is 2013 in case you don’t know that yet. Mind your own business period. Taliban FU!

      • ThudOthwacker

        “What social mores? ” ~efriend

        It only show how ignorant IDIOT you are. Social mores is part of the culture, DIMWIT! LOL

        BOBO!! Go back to school and learn how society function. Keep your homosexual wishes and tendency within your group of non-normal orientation, DOLT!

        ” Mind your own business period.” ~efriend

        Its my business to defend my church from your kind a confused broke back mountaineer.

      • efriend

        FU Talibans lol lol lol

      • ThudOthwacker

        LOL Is that all you could say INUTILE! You’re only good in instigating, nothing more.

        BOBO mag aral ka muna. Puro kabaklaan ang nasa isip mo. Napakatanga mo pati kultura ng Pilipinas hindi mo alam. What an ignorant IDIOT!!

        LOL You are a confused IMBECILIC homo! There is no third sex per se. It is just a by product of abnormal mind.

      • efriend

        FU and your loving church. You are the poster boy of your loving and merciful god whoever that one is. Talibans!!!

      • ThudOthwacker

        LOL Look at this BADAF. Your are a pure EVIL indeed! Using GOD’s name for your EVIL and TWISTED logic have failed. And you’re back again in attacking the church and now GOD.

        Demonyo mag-aral ka muna. Puro batuta ni Totoy ang nasa isip mo. Mahal ka lang yan pag may pera ka!! LOL Pa-check up ka baka your part of the statistic who are HIV positive!! ROFLOL

        Even if you undergo a sex change. You are still a man unless science have found a way to alter Y-Chromo DNA to MtDNA. LOL

        That is the hard truth my incoherent IMBECILIC paranoid broke back mountaineer adversary! LOL

        BOBO!!!

      • efriend

        We view your Church as nothing but an NGO. Period. That is what Pope Francis warned you about. With that attitude of the fundamentalists, I am not surprised if it crumbles faster than expected.

      • ThudOthwacker

        You’re an IDIOT, when did Catholicism became a fundamentalist? BOBO! Mag-aral ka muna bago ka magbiGAY ng opinion. TANGA!

        Now your quoting the pope. And worst you take it out of context. LOL What an IMBECILE!

        “We view” ~efriend

        You mean from a group of TWISTED LUNATICS. LOL

        “I am not surprised if it crumbles faster than expected.” ~efriend

        That was what Lucifer wish for. To attain it, corrupting the IMBECILIC pretentious being specially with abnormal sexual desire like yourself. LOL

        Revelation 12:17
        Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, who obey GOD’s commandments and have in themselves the witness of JESUS.

        You are a sad fellow. You need money to be love by……….. a GUY!! ROFLOL

      • efriend

        You are sleeping with the devil. What comes out of your mouth is a reflection of your inner self. You shamed your church which is a church of love, peace, and mercy.

      • ThudOthwacker

        “You shamed your church which is a church of love, peace, and mercy.” ~efriend

        LOL Your flip-flopping doesn’t help you at all. Just 21 hours ago you posted this:

        “FU and your loving church.” ~efriend

        Seriously no doubt you are the personification of EVIL! You’re wrong to think you can reverse the situation to your advantage, IDIOT. Your cordial words won’t erase the fact, that you cursed my church, SATAN!

        What comes out of my thought are carefully deduced and address appropriately to any adversary I confronted.

        Your case is exceptional, I have to worked double time. Trying to be in same plane as you is hard.

        You’re the only one who have used GOD’s name in vain, ABADDON! You crossed the line, don’t expect any diplomatic reply from me, PRINCE of DARKNESS!!

        Go back to school, DIMWIT! Your JIbber-Jabber and your incoherent facts shows the level of your intellect(pang-parlor). ROFLOL

      • efriend

        “Love one another…then they will know that you are my disciple.” Here you are spreading HATE. Clearly, you did not get His memo. That’s what hypocrites are made of. Taliban! To love is your ID as His believer. In heaven, no ID no entry. Ang taong mabait ay pupunta sa langit. Ang taong nagbabait baitan ay pupunta sa langit langitan. I give the last word here. BYE BYE

      • ThudOthwacker

        LOL Your duplicity don’t work. I have a verse specially for you:

        2 Peter 2:15

        They have left the right path and wandered off to follow the path of Balaam son of Bosor, who sets his heart on a dishonest reward, but soon had his fault pointed out on him

        I follow this verses against the DEVIL like you:

        1 Peter 5:8-9

        8 Keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

        9 Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that it is the same kind of suffering that the community of your brothers throughout the world is undergoing.

        I told you before I have a mission. This is my mission!

      • albert13

        LOSER

      • efriend

        Oh really? No wonder every Juan has a mistress! Every Juanito is born out of wedlock!

      • ThudOthwacker

        What is the connection with that to a guy who wants to play a mummy for thirty minutes a day, broke back mountaineer?

      • efriend

        No connection when you defend other people’s rights. TALIBAN!!!

      • ThudOthwacker

        You are a confused IDIOT! What depending people’s rights are you saying?

        All I wrote was the accepted behavioral standard set by the society. You bring up extramarital relationship to the table. When it has no connection to the manner how this he-mummy practiced parenthood, IMBECILE.

        You’re calling me a taliban. Do you know what it mean broke back mountaineer?

  • KaEnchong

    …waiting to hear the church’s opinion here.

    • motorcyclemama

      Maghintay ka sa wala KaEnchong, eh ang mga pari may mga alagang ganyan, lalo na kung boys.

  • maysayako

    kulang sa pansin ang baklang ito! kapalmuks na gawing model ang sarili sa mga perfume niya at maglkalat ng mga billboards na puro mukha niya. buti sana kung mganda e nakakabuwisit nman ang pagmumukha-yung mga tipong cristy fermin, dolly-ann na nakakabuwisit tingnan ang pagmumukha!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94