That’s the first question anyone ever asks me when they hear that my dad is the Filipino. I always say, “Well, my mom thought so!” How can you ask someones daughter if they think their dad is gwapo?? Pero gwapo nga naman no, although I’ve always thought he looked like the Pinoy version of Lionel Richie. hehehe.
My papa and I didn’t always get along. In fact, we used to have a very distant relationship. Being the oldest, and a girl, my dad raised me kind of like a boy. I’m tough, independant, di maarte, I know how to buy food at the wet market, gut a fish (learning that was pretty gross) clean, and I’d love to see anyone try to have an argument with me. (Batanguena kasi, matapang masyado.) Pati, I have the same temper as my dad. So…medyo mahirap yun.
I have to give my dad props. As a very Filipino man, albeit a well travelled one, he really had to do some adjusting to get used to his fiery, multicultured, stubborn AND liberated daughter. (For a Pinoy father, I am probably like a cultural migraine.) He was hard on me, critical, he pushed me to always be better, to never be content with second best or mediocre and to always stand my ground. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to make him happy, as I know a lot of children tend to do in their younger years. Little did I know, and some people still dont know, is that trying to make your parents happy isn’t what you should aim to do.
When I first joined THE variety show, my papa was prouder of me than I’ve ever seen in my life. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe that finally I had made him proud, without there being a ‘BUT’ attached to it. Then I realised, I was lost. I had spent so much time trying to make him proud that when I actually did it, I didn’t know what to do, or what to work towards. Sad, I know, but when you’re young and you dont know any better, it takes growing up to show you what reality should really be. (Reality is, whatever you do (as long as its not illegal) as long as you do well at it, you’re stable and happy, they will be too.)
So, having achieved making him proud, I started TALKING to my dad. EMOTIONS? Grabe, iba na toh. My papa probably didn’t know what hit him. Suddenly I was opening up to him about life, about how I felt about things, about what was difficult in my life, about how I wanted my relationship with him to be better and more open, especially after my parents separated. It took a LONG time. We fought, we disagreed, we had a hard time trying to be ‘friends.’ It took me 6 years to finally be able to talk to my papa and for us to actually be able to discuss life. But it was worth every minute.
Nowadays, my Papa and I will talk for hours about everything and anything. (well, ALMOST everything. He’s still my dad after all, and a girls gotta have her secrets ;)) We talk about the universe, about God, about him and his life, about boyfriends, about work and my life. I call him when I’m crying and even though he used to have NO idea how to deal with me when I was a crying wreck except to tell me to ‘tahan na’, he is now a FANTASTIC listener, and has learned so beautifully how to show me he is there for me, even if there is nothing he can do to ail my broken heart. And that is all I need.
I never thought that we would be close. But we are. And i tell my friends who have daughters now, or friends who have broken families and dont see their kids, that the most important thing they can do for their daughters is love them unconditionally. To be a good role model, so that the men they choose in their lives will be exceptional and treat them the way they deserve. They dont have to understand everything, but to know that Dad is there to keep them safe, not just physically, but emotionally, is so important.
So, I write this to tell you, I know how difficult it can be trying to get through to your parents. But always remember, they love you. They are just people, raised by other people, learning things through experience just like us and doing the best with what they know, making mistakes and learning too. Sometimes, they make mistakes raising us. But always keep them in your heart. Because you will always be in theirs.
On a last note. I used to think my papa never liked anything I did. I thought I was terrible at everything. I was the lead in a school play at 14, and instead of encouraging me, on the nights of our performances, he criticized me, even after the last performance was done. I cried. I never wanted to perform again. The next day, my mom said, ‘What do you mean he didn’t like the play? He was standing in the back of the auditorium crying because he was so proud of you.’
I love you too Pa. Happy Father’s Day.
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