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Philippine Concert King Martin Nievera opens up about fatherhood

Philippine Concert King #MartinNievera is considered a legend in OPM music. In his career spanning more than three decades, Nievera has garnered eighteen platinum, five double platinum, three triple platinum, and one quadruple platinum albums.

But people also love his humor and candor. He is always open and candid in interviews. But until recently, he really has not open up about the condition of his youngest son, Santino, who is living with #autism

“Because it never really came up,” said Martin in this So Candid interview. “He also doesn’t live here,” he added. Santino, his youngest son with ex-partner Katrina Ojeda, lives with his mother in Las Vegas, Nevada; while Martin is based in the Philippines.

In this interview, the father of 3 admits learning about Santino’s condition was probably one of the biggest curve balls in his life as a Dad. He explains he thought he already had pegs in Robin and Ram, his older sons with ex-wife Pops Fernandez. But during Santino’s early years, they observed that he was different than his older siblings. Santino was “non-verbal and anti-social,” in Martin’s words. And upon further consultations with medical professionals, they discovered he was on the spectrum.

Martin further shares the struggles of parenting Santino in this time of Covid-19 when he cannot simply hop on a plane and visit his now -13yo son in the U.S. He adds that the regular digital means of connection these days, of FaceTime and Zoom calls are simply not acceptable to Santino who gets frustrated (and shows it) because he cannot understand why he cannot touch, hug, feel his Dad.

Despite the struggles, Martin reveals that having Santino and seeing him go through his challenges on a daily basis, are what’s making the veteran performer a better father to his children. He says Santino has enriched his life even more and has made him appreciate simple pleasures in life.

Martin also proudly shares Santino’s “gift” for numbers and playing the drums. And goes on to share that he’s also proud of his older sons – Robin is currently a musician in Los Angeles, CA. And while he probably gets some of his musical talent from his equally-talented parents, Martin lights up with pride as he says that son Robin is trying his best to make it on his own, without hanging on the coattails of his parents. He also shares that second son Ram is a gifted artist who now does work for some of the big animation companies in Hollywood.

Martin, a multi-awarded singer/performer/artist in the Philippines who has had highly successful stints abroad, including Las Vegas, shares that what he now aspires for is to be the best father to his children; and that he wants to live long enough to see each of them fulfill their dreams. Like many fathers with children on the spectrum, he also wishes he could find the missing piece that will make Santino and his life complete.

Martin, who was also raised by a performer dad, reveals that he has also been trying to not duplicate some of his father’s misgivings as a father. He goes on to share one of the things he considers a “big blow” in his childhood – when father, Bert Nievera, also a popular performer who was part of a band in Hawaii, would specifically tell him “Don’t call me Dad” in public.

Martin, who popularized the songs – “Say that you love me”, “Be my lady”, “Kahit isang saglit” and many more – ends the interview with another one of his hits – “I’ll be there for you.”

This show also includes a segment on the latest Covid updates from well-respected Filipino epidemiologist Dr. Francisco Sy. Dr. Sy earned his Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree in Immunology and Infectious Diseases in 1984 from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Master of Science (SM) in Tropical Public Health in 1981 from Harvard School of Public Health; his MD degree in 1975 and BS Pre-Med degree in 1970 from the University of the Philippines.

In his So Informed segment – Dr. Sy talks about how the lockdown measures have contributed to the containment of the deadly coronavirus; but the recent openings are causing some spikes in the number of cases. He also discusses the new MIS-C this has affected some very young children, causing concern in parents.

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