Many things have been written about OPM icon Martin Nievera as a singer, but not a lot of people know about his life as father.
Martin has three sons: Ram and Robin with ex-wife Pops Fernandez, and Santino with Katrina Ojeda.
“My son Santino is a special boy. He’s on the spectrum. It’s something I have never told either. I’m not hiding it but no one has ever asked. He’s 12 years old and he has a very long journey ahead of him. He’s high functioning but low social,” Martin said in an interview right after the renewal of his contract with Solaire Resort & Casino.
He shared that Santino performed at his show in Las Vegas last March 9. The boy played drums to the Green Day song “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.”
“I felt like the best parent ever and I had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t even there when he learned to play the drums. But to show you that miracles can happen, it can happen in a three-minute song. Some people have thought he would have given up in the middle of the song, but he finished the whole song. You can imagine how I felt, especially with him and that song,” he said.
As he has never addressed the public about Santino’s condition, Martin was thoughtful how he was going to introduce him onstage. However, Santino confidently took over the stage.
“He grabbed the mic and started ‘Hello, everybody.’ He surprised everyone. I spent weeks thinking how I’m going to introduce him. Do I say that he’s special? Or do I just not introduce my son? I was so problematic how I’m going to introduce him but he just grabbed my mic,” he said.
All his teachers, his therapists, and the audiences shed tears of joy.
“Autism is less than a disability but more of a gift. Their minds, their emotions, their senses, are all fast forward. And they’re so sensitive. They’re way ahead of us,” he said.
It feels liberating for Martin to finally talk about Santino’s autism. Martin wants people to be more aware of autism, however, he won’t make a campaign around it as he doesn’t want people to misinterpret it as roundabout way of getting publicity for him (Martin). Actually, he’s been doing shows promoting autism causes in the US albeit quietly.
“I’ve been wanting to say this for the longest time. Not for anything, but I want to make a difference while I’m still alive. I want to be able to make a difference by helping others who are in the same situation. Anytime they need me, I’m here. My son doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him. He wants people to cheer him on,” he said.
Martin feels great to have stayed relevant in the business even at 37 years and counting.
“Who would have thought, someone like me, 37 years in the business, can endorse a humongous company like Solaire. This place is built on the foundation of dreams. Who doesn’t want to be part of those dreams?” he said.
Starting August to September, Martin and Pops will reunite in a series of concerts titled “Two-gether Again 2019” in the US. They will be in Los Angeles, Atlantic City, Santa Ynez, Lincoln, Escondido, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Cabazon.
“As artists, she and I click the best. Even with just one look, she finishes my sentences. We know what we’re gonna do next. She know if I’m gonna go here, I know if she’s gonna go there. We are mirrored images of each other. With Pops and I, it’s automatic,” he said.
Asked how he feels working with Pops, Martin said “I’m scared to death.” Even if they are not together anymore, there are just many people clamoring for Martin and Pops and they still see the chemistry even without the romantic relationship.
He added, “I don’t want people to think that we are pretending to like each other for the sake of applause and the ticket sales. It’s the people who asked for this show. We don‘t want to fool people anymore. If ever we got back together, it would because of love, God, our kids when they were still young enough before. But that’s not applicable now because they’re now 30 years old and 29.”
Many miss Martin being active on TV as a judge in talent competitions, but he also has a talk show on ANC. He plans to go live with his own YouTube channel soon.