Much like a celebrity, the life of retired basketball star Chris Tiu is an open book. His fans know almost everything about him, from his achievements on the court to his awards in the different fields he’s in.
Now that he’s enjoying more time with his family and juggling work, golf, and music all at the same time, the former PBA poster boy shared some things that the public might not know about him during an interview with SPIN.ph.
SPIN.ph: What’s your typical day like now that you have retired from basketball?
Chris: I think that’s the beauty of being an athlete all my life, I’ve developed a habit of waking up early, starting my day early kasi I want to be productive. [I wake up] between 6:30 to 7:00 in the morning kasi malapit lang yung office ko. There are days when I wake up earlier so I can workout first, pero hindi naman araw-araw ako nagwo-workout eh. Sometimes, I workout before work, sometimes after work, sometimes weekends, walang fixed schedule sa ngayon, basta wag lang masyadong matagal na walang workout. I try to exercise three times a week para hindi tumaba, para healthy pa rin yung ating muscles, lungs, heart, so I try to stay fit. I try to start my day early as much as possible, I want to be at the office by 8 in the morning. But then again, with the nature of my job, it’s not really fixed eh. I have meetings all over the place, trips here and there. I still have a show with GMA 7 so I have tapings once every three weeks or once a month pero pumupondo na kami. [We shoot] seven or eight hours, depende, pero good for one month na yun. I want to go home early as much as possible. Pero iba-iba pa rin eh, kasi dahil sa meetings, there are some who are available after work hours. But I try to be home for dinner with the family kasi importante ang bonding with the kids. I want to spend much time [with them] as I can.
SPIN.ph: You usually post pictures of your adorable daughters Amanda and Mari, what is your favorite bonding moment with them?
Chris: Amanda is two and a half and Mari is one-year-old. It's a challenge for me trying to play [the piano] alone and in peace kasi when I press one note titingin na and tatakbo na yan and tatalon na sa akin and bam bam bam [they would also press the keys]. We play games together—mga puzzles, mga memory games, drawings. Sad to say I cannot teach them anything in art and drawing kasi wala talaga akong talent doon. I tell my wife na ikaw ang magturo kasi artistic siya and sana makuha nila yung artistic genes. Physical activities, playground, park, they have playschool once in a while. And we read a lot, whenever I tell Amanda that we’re gonna read a book, her eyes light up and she runs to the cabinet and she wants to choose which book we’re gonna read. And then before going to sleep I read her a story, several stories actually, to the point na sometimes nabasa na lahat I have to make my own story na and I think gumaling akong mag-imbento ng story, mag create ng entertaining story on the spot, I think that’s one thing I learned when I became a father. And then now she’s the one reading the book to me now, she can’t read yet but when we read to her and she sees the pictures, she remembers and she memorizes the lines, nakukuha na niya.
SPIN.ph: Who is more close to you, Amanda or Mari?
Chris: Mari is just starting to learn how to walk and she spends more time with my wife kasi she’s breastfeeding so they’re mas attached in a way. Kay Amanda ako kasi magseselos yun pag di ko binigyan ng attention so mas attached siya sa akin ngayon. When I went to Dubai nga two nights lang akong wala talagang hagulgol siya, “I want Papa! I want Papa to come home!” umiiyak talaga, natutunaw ang puso ko.
SPIN.ph: Both of your children are girls, do you also dress up and play house with them?
Chris: [When we play] nilalagyan nila ako ng ribbon, minsan kapag nagme-makeup yung mommy nila kukunin niya [Amanda] yung brush then lalagyan niya rin ako [ng makeup].
SPIN.ph: That’s part of being a father.
Chris: Basta kung natutuwa sila, hayaan mo lang silang matuwa di ba?
SPIN.ph: Aside from being your daughter’s best friends, do you also discipline them?
Chris: Pero kaya ko, kaya ko silang pagalitan, ako ang disciplinarian. Avoid as much as possible pero, ako, naniniwala ako sa palo eh so pinapalo ko sila.
SPIN.ph: Other parents might not agree, but it’s important to discipline your children.
Chris: Napalo din ako noong bata ako, madalas, kaya naniniwala ako sa palo. Kasi naaalala ko eh so hindi ko na uulitin yung mga [mali ko]. It’s classical conditioning eh, it’s psychology eh, I believe in that. Some people don’t subscribe to it now, some modern parenting discourages it but me, I think, I still believe in it.
SPIN.ph: To what extent do they need to be disciplined?
Chris: Only on certain things, hindi naman palagi palo. Like hindi lang kumain palo na. Hindi ganoon. There are few cases lang na you have [to do it], like she deliberately hurts her sister napapalo siya or face the wall. Pag sinasaktan niya yung sister niya, minsan gigil hinahayaan ko. Pero pag sobra na parang nananadya na or ilang beses na tapos ginagawa niya pa rin, kailangan na [paluin]. Makikita mo eh after pinalo siya parang gusto niya ulit batukan yung kapatid niya or itulak, maaalala niya [yung palo], mag-iingat na siya. Gigil pwede but if it’s too much na you have to put them in their place, or kapag nagiging disrespectful, pero very seldom lang naman. And then after that explain. Kapag lumamig na [yung situation], explain why and maghug na kayo. So now she always says na “I know if my Papa and my Mama hit me, they’re not angry at me, they still love me” so she understands. [Pag iiyak or aarte na iiyak] ah no, sorry hindi pwede yan pero syempre emotionally nakakaawa.
SPIN.ph: You know how to handle the situation when your daughter gets mischievous or makulit, why is that? Are you also like that when you were a kid?
Chris: When I was young sobrang likot ko. I would climb walls at our house, I would throw balls at our helpers. Parang nanggigigil ako, naghahanap ako ng kalaro magshoot sa court eh, so nagsu-shooting ako may dadaan and sasabihin ko “Tara laro tayo!” Eh hindi nakatingin papasahan ko lang ng bola tapos matatamaan ang ulo, nagagalit sa akin hahabulin ako syempre tatakbo ako, eh mabilis ako hindi niya ako maaabutan. Very pasaway ako. Yung mga cars bagong bili lang, toy cars, bang! Iba-bang ko sa wall [yung toy car], ganoon ako ka naughty.
SPIN.ph: What’s the most unforgettable experience of you being pasaway?
Chris: The worst I think was with my ate. May ate kasi ako, one year apart lang kami, second ako of five [siblings]. Siya yung playmate ko, so very close kami kasi dahil sa age gap. Tapos one time nanggigil ako sobra, kasi medyo chubby siya noon, kinagat ko siya dito [sa arm niya]. Kinagat ko siya na sobrang diin diin talaga, nakabaon na talaga [yung teeth ko]. So grabe yung iyak niya. Nalaman ng dad ko so pinalo niya ako nang pinalo hanggang nasira yung belt niya. Baka mga four or five or six ako. Umiyak ako, iyak talaga, pero after that I think medyo significant yung turnaround.
SPIN.ph: So now we know who Amanda takes after?
Chris: Baka, malamang.
SPIN.ph: As a kid, you were pasaway. As a teenager were you the same?
Chris: Alam mo naman ang boys kapag teenager or bagong teenager syempre adventurous. May tournament kami, nasa Las Vegas kami. Pay per view, pindut-pindot, adventure, then may lumabas [na X-Rated], and syempre mga boys, na-excite. Eh, ako, goody-goody minsan. Hahaha. Of course may mga rebellious side din naman tayo lahat but mommy ko kasi was very pious and she’s always reminding us na avoid yung mga occasions of immodesty and indecency and so the decision at that time, if that happened anytime later or earlier, I may have made a different decision also. But, at that time, maybe with the grace of God and Mama Mary’s protection, I decided na ayaw kong makibahagi dyan mag-rosary na lang ako, wag niyo akong kukulitin so lumabas ako nag-rosary. And by some miracle the following day or a few days later, nag-championship game, bangko ako noon eh, but that game I played the best game of my life. Nag-champion kami, first time in Philippine history nag-champion sa tournament na yun Las Vegas Eastern Classic. No Philippine team has ever won. Nag national champion kami sa Pilipinas sa SBP so kami ang pinadala, Xavier, to represent the Philippines. And surprisingly, this bench warmer played his best game and became the MVP. Actually, that changed my career. I’d like to think that way, I’m a very religious person and I’d like to believe that there is a correlation with that kasi how coincidental na after that incident biglang mangyayari sa akin yun. So divine eh, bangko ako eh, eighth or ninth ako [sa rotation] and yung starters namin na-injure, nagcramps, nag foul-out, tapos yug iba sa trip na yun hindi nakakuha ng visa. For me looking back, imposibleng coincidence lang, there had to be divine intervention. Feeling ko [nireward ako ni Mama Mary]. Grade 5, mga 10. That changed my career, nag-MVP ako, nababad na ako, after that tumaas ang confidence ko, my coach may confidence na rin sa akin. Nasa dyaryo kami noon eh sa Pilipinas talagang it made news. But ako talaga, I believe, it has God’s divine hands and Mama Mary’s intercession, for me I always consider that as a miracle.
SPIN.ph: People perceive you as perfect, you’re a good basketball player, you have good looks, you were a straight-A student, you even know how to play the piano! How do you handle it?
Chris: Actually, that’s one thing that I want to correct, that misconception [that I’m perfect]. I’m sure when I make mistakes [it gets magnified], that’s one thing I want to change. I’m only human and I make mistakes, I’m very far from perfect. I want to tell people that there’s a constant struggle to improve, I’ve made many mistakes, I’ve made a lot of poor decisions but it’s always constantly praying to God asking for forgiveness and drawing strength from Him to change and correct the mistakes. But I always view them [mistakes] as opportunities to learn and grow. It’s a process, I’m far from perfect.
SPIN.ph: You play the piano, which makes you more perfect in the eyes of other people. Aside from Disney songs and musicals, you also play the soundtrack from a KDrama. Do you like KDrama?
Chris: Actually I like the [Descendants of the Sun] Korean… teleserye ba yun? KDrama [ba tawag]? Kasi ano siya, unlike the Western, maganda yung love story niya and yung love story niya is centered on a bigger story na may gyera and what not. And wholesome ang romance and affection sa isa’t-isa, parang mas kilig nga yun for me. Hindi yung nagdate lang nag kiss na agad or nag sex na agad di ba? I think that’s what’s nice about the Eastern values, mas conservative pero entertaining pa rin naman, kilig pa rin naman di ba? Hindi naman kailangan parating nakahubad na or nasa kwarto na or nag-iinuman na sa club and lasing na nagda-drugs. Kaya hindi ako masyadong fan ng Hollywood eh, of course, there are some. Iba kasi [ang culture], lalo na yung mga reality TV nila, I really don’t understand, what’s so entertaining about that. It’s sending the wrong message eh, parang people aspire to be like them and then their lives are [open to the public] and they have different priorities and I don’t want to comment and say something negative, it’s just that they’re different. It’s not entertaining to me and I wish iba na lang yun ina-aspire ng mga tao kasi sometimes nagiging superficial eh, you’d want good looks lang, nice body, nice face, maraming pera, nice cars, hot mansions, nice lifestyle, always good food, travel, branded stuff here and there. In moderation it’s fine, we’re not naman judging anybody, but if your world revolves around that it’s scary din eh. So yun nga sana yung mga pinapanood na lang ng tao mga KDrama. Hahaha. Mga Descendants of the Sun.
SPIN.ph: Now that you can plan trips ahead, how do you plan to spend trips out-of-town or abroad?
Chris: Basta important sa mga family trips is we get to talk and not to get distracted. Kasi kapag nandito you have a lot of meetings and stuff, you’re together nga but your mind is elsewhere di ba? But when you go on planned vacations, hopefully work stuff don’t bother you, you have your full attention to your kids and you can communicate with them. Kasi that’s the time when you teach them values like my mom taught me not to watch the pay per view sa Las Vegas. Kasi minsan sa mga ganyang bonding with family dyan yung pinaka malakas na impact ang nagfo-form sa bata eh kasi when we were young my parents spent a lot of time with us even though they’re busy. We would have dinners together, pray together, travel together. And work shouldn’t be taking, it will inevitably, but it at least it shouldn’t take too much time off your family.
SPIN.ph: In a perfect world, what do you want to achieve?
Chris: Kaya hanga talaga ako sa mga overseas workers natin who are distanced from their family. For me, it’s really not healthy and not ideal. I wish that can be solved, that physical distance away from your spouses and your kids. The social consequences are very detrimental, maybe not now, but in the long run. And the social fiber is the family eh and if you’re not together it’s really not ideal. Sana magawan ng paraan dito sa Pilipinas, either you bring your family with you abroad or hopefully the Philippines can provide more quality, sustainable, high-paying jobs that would encourage people to stay, di ba? I mean, I understand the need kasi they need to earn more so that they can give more for schooling, for shelter, para makaipon, di ba ganoon naman? Pero yun nga, on the other hand, you don’t realize that it’s tearing your family apart, bit by bit. Swerte kung hindi but the probability is very low given all the factors of distance, kahit pa sabihin mong may Skype, people need affection, they need quality time, physical presence, I hope magawan ng paraan.