I have the best relationship with my father. It is so complex and layered. He’s my Dad, yes, for sure, but he is also my witty sparring partner, my colleague (since we work together), but he is also my mentor and my teacher, but more than that, he is also one of my best friends who can tell me anything.
I think our relationship was marked for a turn towards the unusual since I was a little kid and he insisted that I was adopted because he and my Mom “found me in the sugar cane fields in Negros Occidental.” I was stuck-up, tight-assed child that I fought against it and found no humour in the joke that continues until this day.
I finally found my sense of humour at fourteen and I began using what little I know about wit and sarcasm to join in on the family fun but as I hit college and my reading became equivalent to everyone else’s in the family and I began to consume knowledge at a greater pace, I had begun to start coming into my own — as a writer, as a mature person, as a member of this wild, wacky, and totally absurd family dynamic. By the time I was, maybe, twenty-five, I had started working with my Dad as a writer and I had enough of my own experiences and interactions with different people of society that I could match him sarcastic bite after sarcastic barb.
And we would have long, long discussions about art and philosophy and history and human behaviour and why things are the way they are. As we had all grown up, we’d all converge at the dining room table and start talking as a family but the moment my Dad and I started talking about the things that are really close to us, everyone else would sort of drift away and I would be the only one capable of sitting there and just cull from my Dad’s vast knowledge and human experiences.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to say this here. We have that special bond that I don’t think my other siblings have. They relate to him in a very different way, in ways I cannot understand, but I have that with him. That’s intrinsically something that is just between us.
Even if it is true that I was just found in a sugar cane field in Negros and they took me in as one of their own, the truth remains that he is my father. Because a father isn’t someone who gave his sperm to aid in your creation into this world, no, that is too simplistic. A father is someone who imparts with you the knowledge and the values that you need to get through life and to help you mature into a person worth becoming.
My Dad was essential into my becoming a person worth turning into. Yes, he is a legendary artist and an influential director. Yes, he is a great teacher and a magnificent mentor. Yes, he is a patriot. But he is my father, first, to me. He gave me everything that I need to become the person I am today.
For that, I am eternally grateful.
No poem I can write can make that any clearer or more true. The love I have for him goes beyond the cellular level, where he resides. It is ingrained in my soul. I am not me if it were not for him.
Happy Father’s Day to all those brave enough to take that mantle. You are far braver than you can ever imagine.