Volleyball player EJ Laure and Kapamilya actor Bugoy Cariño became a hot topic on social media on Friday after their surprise baby reveal on the same day as Cariño’s birthday.
In a video montage shared online on September 4, Laure greeted her partner Cariño on his birthday and thanked him for taking care of their daughter Scarlet. This was the first time that Laure confirmed that she is now a mother.
The montage showed photos of Scarlet’s growth from a newborn to a toddler. In the last photos, it was shown that Cariño celebrated his 18th birthday with them.
“Happy birthday, Mahal! Thank you sa lahat ng ginawa at ginagawa mo para sa amin ni baby Scarlet! We love you so much, daddy!” Laure said.
— Ej Laure (@ennajielauree) September 3, 2020
The former Goin’ Bulilit actor also shared their first family photo on his Facebook page.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Happy to have a family na mahal na mahal ako. Pagsisikapan ko pong itaguyod ang blessing na ito. Thank you for your unending support and I love you both, Mommy EJ and Baby Scarlet!” Cariño said.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! 🎂🎉🎁Happy to have a family na mahal na mahal ako. Pagsisikapan ko pong itaguyod ang blessing na…
After these posts, their names “Bugoy” and “EJ” landed the top Philippine Trends list of the micro-blogging platform.
The attention, however, was mostly focused on Laure whose comeback as a member of the University of Santo Tomas’ volleyball team was anticipated for the next season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Laure, the former UAAP rookie of the year, missed the collegiate competition twice since Season 80 in 2018, citing her shoulder injury.
However, instead of the talks on her return, the chatter around that time revolved around her alleged pregnancy with Cariño.
Laure immediately denied such talk as mere rumors and argued that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
“Ewan ko kasi parang hindi naman totoo ‘yung sinasabi nila and nasa kanila na lang yun, kung ano gusto nilang sabihin,” she said.
In 2019, she returned to the volleyball court with the Tigresses in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference.
Surprise baby photos and videos usually gain positive reception on social media. However, some Filipinos were critical of the age difference between Laure and Cariño.
Some of them speculated that the volleyball player might be 20 years old and the former actor was only 15 when they had Scarlet. Some netizens then accused the former of possible pedophilia and “grooming.”
In psychology, grooming or child grooming is a deceitful behavior wherein an adult engages a teenager or a child into a close relationship which often leads to abuse.
“Bugoy and EJ Laure’s story is a case of pedophilia. Grooming is real and women can do it too. Anyone sane knows there is a MAJOR imbalance in the power and dynamics when a 15 and a 20-year old get into a relationship, let alone a sexual one,” one online user wrote.
“How can u guys be okay about the EJ and Bugoy issue. The moment I saw it I knew something ain’t right. Ano yan applicable lang ang moral standards niyo sa hindi celebrities? Pag sikat, okay lang?” another wrote.
A few users alleged that such is a case of hebephilia and ephebophilia, wherein adults who are sexually attracted to pubescent children and teenagers, respectively.
Neither Laure nor Cariño released their responses to these criticisms as of writing.
Despite the criticisms, EJ’s sister Eya Laure, also a Thomasian athlete, admired her niece “Scarlet” on Twitter.
cutie baby scarlet 💛 https://t.co/pIGVEivZAH
— Eya Laure (@eyalaureee) September 3, 2020
Some fans of EJ also poured in their congratulatory messages, greetings and support for their family.
Congrats sa inyo po ate ej 💕 and happy birthday bugoy ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2lSNobkdOh
— Joana Liguan Culanculan (@zeeen_babesx) September 3, 2020
Godbless you Ej! Blessing yan. Malayo mararating mo bilang volleyball player! Sa sobrang cute ni baby ang sarap ishare nyang pictures sa buong mundo!
— Enzo Cruz (@enzocruise5) September 3, 2020