It was Pochola who made her presence felt in the room, almost at the same moment as Nico Bolzico. She walked in with a rather imperious grace, her bulk outweighed by her gentle gaze. She has such doleful eyes. And you are more touched, because Pochola is friendly even to strangers like you.
We finally get to see Pochola in the flesh. Nico—we see him now and then at dinners and events hosted by Swatch PH founder and brand builder Virgie Ramos, so we know how friendly and fun (and funny) he can be.Pochola is the American Akita of Nico and Solenn (née Heussaff), whom their millions of followers on Instagram must be familiar with. Also, there are El Gato (the cat), and Patato and Pechuga (the turtles). They’re the main characters in the daily lives of this famous couple. But more than that, they figure in the posts of Nico and Solenn that make you laugh, and which perk up your day.
My generation seems to be a planet or two away from digital lifestyle, meaning I still feel awkward about sharing stuff (like skin pores and extinct abs and cleavage) other than work.
Not only are Nico and Solenn of the breed that leads a digital/social media lifestyle, they’re also creative enough to turn it into an engaging story from day to day, without making it seem narcissistic or egoistic. And—they are genuinely funny, and they can make their house pets seem even funnier.
They come up with the funniest hashtags (#bulliedhusbandsclub) and “sitcoms” in their posts. Nico is a comic who perhaps doesn’t know he’s one. And we love the way values (family, the environment, animal rights) creep into his posts with such guerilla stealth.
But more than that, I think it’s because people around them know that they’re for real, and their love story even more. And while they’re at it, they can make you laugh.
For instance, in the run-up to Solenn’s childbirth, Solenn thought of pulling a prank on Nico, making him believe that her water bag had burst, and that she had to be rushed to the hospital. What followed was a scene every husband-going-nuts could relate to—any husband could speed-drive to the hospital, but what to pack for the mommy and baby? You don’t learn that in clubs or graduate school.
“I knew I could bring her in time to the hospital, but all the stuff to bring was what I didn’t know,” Nico tells us this afternoon of our interview. That video cracked us up.
Their Valentine’s Day video which they uploaded last night shows Nico in panic/zen mode preparing Solenn’s Valentine gift and dinner. The gift—a Valentine Special Swatch You’ve Got Love GZ7075—obviously is an easy choice for Nico, and so is setting the table. The eyebrow-raiser is when Solenn sees what’s on the table. (No spoiler here, watch it.)
Nico and Solenn are, to use an overused ungrammatical term, “relatable.” Nico’s fumbles are hilarious, Solenn’s visceral reactions to them are even more hilarious so that any wife could relate to them.
You enjoy the vicarious trip into a marriage. The couple have been together for almost a decade now, and are enjoying a precious milestone, the birth of Thylane. Solenn is now a stay-at-home mom who breastfeeds their daughter, who’s barely two months old.
And—it doesn’t hurt that, on their own, they’re talented, which is why perhaps brands love to work with them. Beyond being a model, an actress and brand endorser, Solenn is an artist who has a growing following of collectors, and is getting good reviews for her common-folk scenes and portraits.
Nico, an Argentine with academic degrees in economics and math (he has a master’s degree in global banking, and another master’s in global finance and capital markets), visited Manila almost 10 years ago, and decided to stay—because of the “people, and Solenn.” Although he misses farm life back home, he has made the Philippines his home.
During our interview, Nico told us how worried he was that El Gato had disappeared the night before, the first time he ran away from home. They found him in a neighbor’s house. (But we can talk about El Gato’s possible angst another time.)
Excerpts from our interview with Nico and, in some portions, a phone chat with Solenn, who’s busy with the baby:
Will you really put Patato on the plate?
What will you do this Valentine’s Day?
We haven’t planned it yet. We were talking about it yesterday. We don’t know if we should go out or not, because with Thylane it’s hard. So it’s very hard for her to move around, because she is very attached to her mom. So we may stay at home.
No, definitely not quietly. With Thylane, it’s never quiet.
You’ve adjusted to your baby?
I don’t think you ever fully adjust.
Yes, not sleepless. Just not continuously. If you add up all the hours we sleep at night, six or seven. But not more than three.
What’s the sweetest gift you’ve given Solenn?
Her engagement ring… From Hong Kong. I chose and designed it myself.
You like living here?
Yes. It’s been 10 years.
Why did you first fall in love in Manila?
I think it’s the people. After six months, I said to myself that I wanted to stay in the Philippines. The people, the opportunities, Solenn. It just felt like home here. It’s not far from my culture, it’s very similar.
Do you miss Argentina once in a while?
Yes, every day. I miss the farm, the horses and my family.
What are the little things in your married life that make you feel blessed every day?
I think after nine years together, we still enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy our conversations, and look forward to seeing each other every day. And we miss each other during the day.
We don’t socialize much these days anymore. Now with Thylane, we’re very close. We’re actually very good friends also.
That’s something many girls would envy. Even your jokes are funny. You kid each other a lot.
What you see on Instagram is only 10 percent of my pranks.
Much of it is natural, it’s not something you put on because the video is on, right?Except when I think Solenn tried to fool you that her water bag broke….
Yeah, that was very good and very bad at the same time. I was gonna take her to the hospital on time. I didn’t bring anything, but I wanted her to be in the hospital already.
What happened on the actual day when she gave birth?
We went for a check-up, and the doctor said, you have to stay because you’re giving birth tomorrow.
So did you find it traumatic?
No, not at all.
Going back, when did you know you’d won her over?
When she said yes. Before she said yes, I wasn’t 100-percent sure.
That she wanted to marry you?
Yes, we’d been together for four years, but even if you’re together for four years, you’ll never know. Because sometimes, the girls freak out at that time.
What would you have done had she said no?
Cry and leave the country.
Yes, very. Like in Argentina, very telenovela.
Moving on, what would you cook for Solenn for dinner?
I’m only a good beef cooker. I don’t know many dishes. I only know how to handle beef. So it would be something with beef for sure. Beef and salad.
What’s your favorite beef dish that you love to cook?
I like all different cuts of beef, rib eye, tenderloin. Anything as long as it’s grilled is good. Then you need vegetables to accompany.
Solenn is the artist, but what would you do if you had to draw a Valentine artwork for her? What would it be?
I cannot draw from real life, I’m very bad. I actually tried to draw. You know the way I express myself is not drawing, not through giving gifts. I’m more of service. I wouldn’t use my drawing skills to draw her heart, I definitely won’t succeed.
What do you think is the number one criterion for a couple to stay together?
Trust for sure, you need to trust each other, and freedom. Each one should have his or her own space and own time. So any time that either one becomes jealous or clingy, it wouldn’t work. So you also need to have your own space, moment. Support and trust each other and of course, love.
If, for example, she asks you to cut your hair, would you do that?
She wouldn’t ask me ever to do something like that, but if she does, definitely yes, if she asks me.
(He calls Solenn on the phone.)
We were just asking him, if for Valentine’s you ask him to cut his hair, if he would.
Solenn: I think he would, he has no choice.
Nico: Yeah, that’s what I answered. But I also answered that you would never ask me that.
Solenn: Uhh, I think I just did three days ago. I didn’t ask him, I just said I think you need to have your hair cut.
In social media you are one of the most followed couples. How do you maintain your privacy while sharing your relationship?
Solenn: Of course, we choose what we share. It’s nice to be able to give inspiration for other people, as well. That you can lead both lives, and both have your own jobs, travel your own ways, and just be together. But it’s also to keep a lot of things private. Maybe a lot of happy moments we haven’t shared online, like sweet things he said, or sweet things he does, or the problems we go through, we don’t share them anymore. ’Coz at the end of the day, it’s our relationship, not anyone else’s.
At the start, did you know what to share and not to share, or did you learn as you went along?
Solenn: I think it’s pretty normal; at the end of the day, for me social media is just an outlet. Of course, there are certain things you want to print, or stuff you want to share. If I wanted to share everything with the public, I might as well have cameras all over the house.
You’re enjoying motherhood.
So far, nothing else matters at all. I’m not worried about anything. My attention now is fully on Thylane. It’s a full-time job, and full-time breastfeeding. I’m literally from my bedroom to her room and then I stay all day because she’s always latching. So that’s my life now. We haven’t gotten out of the house much, just for a doctor’s visit.
You know so many women will be inspired by your breastfeeding. Do you intend to do this for some time?
Solenn: Ah yes, if I can sustain it for a year. I also have the luxury at the moment, I have no work until April and I can just focus on staying at home, and keep producing milk. But eventually, I would have to work. Hopefully, I have enough to stash, if not I’ll have to mix. But as of now, I really don’t want to go, so I’m trying my best to get many lactation doctors and nurses, and really trying to up the supplies.
So you haven’t been painting?
Solenn: I haven’t, but I was planning to before I was to go on leave. To paint a few pieces for my exhibit this August.
I’m just curious, will you take a different direction in your painting style?
Solenn: For now, not really. But maybe it will be a bit darker, because last time it was very bright. Now it will be more realism.
You enjoy doing people?
Solenn: I used to hate faces, but now, ever since I got the hang of it, it’s my favorite subject. I also feared before, painting nature, but nothing abstract now. I’m also hoping next month, that she will get to sleep at least four hours, so I can paint.
Do you have a gift for Nico?
Solenn: For Valentine’s, no. We don’t really do Valentine’s presents. We just do dinners. Or go out for dinner.