On mornings when she wants to summon her inner power, beauty queen Mariel De Leon puts Cardi B. on blast. “But never did I change, never been ashamed. Never did I switch, story stayed the same. I did this on my own, I made this a lane.” the record-breaking female rapper spits on “Best Life.”

Mariel can say the same: An outspoken 24-year- old, she’s had her share of people attempting to keep her silent, twisting her words to create drama. She’s learned how to tune out unnecessary noise, though; being the daughter of Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong helps, as they’re also artists who’ve weathered their own share of critique. “They’ve always told me to do what I love, so if I really want to do something,I’ll go do it, no matter what people say.”

She’s only human, of course, and below- the-belt comments can hurt. “I’d feel bad the first few days after an issue happens, because who wants their opinion to get blown out of proportion? But I get over it quickly, with my mom’s advice to pray and think about what I can learn from the experience. My parents let me handle stuff like that on my own, which is good; they’re just there with moral support.”

Strong women

On Sandy’s part, she marvels at her daughter’s inner strength, even though she doesn’t always agree with Mariel’s online posts. “Growing up, she was very quiet and liked to keep things to herself. Now, she’s a reliable, dependable, and responsible woman who’s loyal to and protective of the people very dear to her. She does get corrections from my husband and I when needed, and she listens and accepts them well.” Mariel, who also uses “strong” to describe her mother, says they relate to each other more as friends now that they’re both adults. “We’re very close. It’s easier for me to tell her some things, compared to my dad.”

The two self-professed homebodies prefer to bond by staying in to Netflix and chill, but when schedules permit, they head to their family place in Lobo, Batangas to enjoy the beach. “It’s important for me as a mother to make sure Mariel is okay,” Sandy admits.

“I need to be updated not only with her work and schedule but more on what’s happening inside of her. “I’m happy she has maintained her faith in God, and impressed at her strength to persevere even in extreme adversity. Mariel’s realistic enough to know her potential and her limitations, and she’s grounded enough to know when she needs a hand. She’s confident to ask for help, knowing she won’t be judged for it.”

Shared values

Since she’s at an age when people start inquiring about her ideas on marriage, Mariel believes she has the best relationship peg with her parents. “I’ve seen how they went through hardships together and came out stronger in the end—that inspires me. Their relationship and the way they’ve raised our family are very Catholic and traditional, and I carry the values they taught me.” Case in point: Any guy that goes on a date with her has to be introduced to her folks. “My parents always tell me that the guy should be God-fearing, mabait, and hardworking.”

Both Mariel and Sandy believe that being true to one’s self is the key to being happy. The former admits to having off-days—even off-months— but remembering the bigger picture centers her. “I’m just a speck in this world, so why should others’ opinions affect me? At the end of the day, it’s my life and I’m living it.”

As for Sandy, a woman’s best version comes out when she learns to love herself. “Always put God first,” she advises. “What’s truly important is what He sees in your heart.” Like mother, like daughter, indeed.

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