To fathers, with love and pride

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — As Father’s Day coincides with Pride Month, it represents a beautiful intersection of celebrating family bonds and honoring diversity and acceptance. The Philippine STAR asked these “loud and proud” celebrities and artists about their memories of their fathers and how their influence continues to impact them today.

“King of Talk” Boy Abunda on his father Eugenio Abunda Sr.:

Boy Abunda with his father, Eugenio Abunda Sr.

“Ang Tatay ko, alam mo ang memories ko sa kanya? When he was a councilor in Borongan (Samar), katabi niya yung college, St. Joseph’s College. Because he was so hungry to learn — hanggang high school lang kasi ang Tatay — nag-aaral siya, tumatawid, ganun siya kagutom.

“I will not also forget when Tatay brought me to the Ateneo (De Manila). Naglakad kami mula sa kanto ng Katipunan hanggang sa Gate 2. Then lakad kami sa administration building, tapos sabi ko, Tatay, bakit dito ako mag-aaral? Kasi dito nag-aral si Rizal. Namatay naman siya before I finished my second year college. So, balik naman ako sa kalsada ng ka Maynilaan. But sobra niya akong ginapang sa Ateneo (when he was alive)... He died very young.

“Growing up, it (being gay) was never an issue. Hindi namin napag-usapan, hindi ako trinato ng masama ng aking mga magulang, busog ako sa pagmamahal. My father was a macho man but wala akong nakita or naramdaman sa Tatay. Siya nga yung (pushing me) kahit saang sulok na may declamation contest, sinasali ako eh.”

FDCP chair Jose Javier Reyes.

Film Development Council of the Philippines chair Jose “Direk Joey” Reyes on his father, Marciano Reyes Sr.:

“He dreamt of being a lawyer but he married young. When he saved enough to study law, the Second World War broke out. That was his biggest frustration in life. He wanted me to be a lawyer, but the good Lord had other plans.

“All my life my father was the disciplinarian who I felt demanded so much from me in terms of being the best in school in every endeavor. But it was only late in life, when he was nearing his end, that I completely understood why and how he became the father that he was to me, and how much he has influenced my way of thinking.

“The wisest words my Dad ever shared was that, ‘You must always do your best. Failure does not make you lesser a man but rather it is a way for you to be better.’ And my Dad, when he was about to leave us, actually told me that his greatest apprehension is that I will lead a life alone. That was the exact moment I realized that my father loved me more than I ever imagined in my life. All the discipline, all the requirements — he wanted me to be strong, resilient and withstanding all odds.”

The filmmaker Direk Chris Martinez with his father Peter, mom Leticia and nephew Aaron.

Director-writer Chris Martinez on his father Pedrito “Peter” Martinez:

“Si Papa — he was the one who introduced me to the movies that I grew up with. I remember we’d go to the betamax rental shop and bring home movies he loved for me to see. I was eight or nine when he made me watch ‘The Sound of Music,’ ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Tom Thumb’ and, oddly, ‘Doctor Zhivago’! Obviously, I didn’t enjoy that last one then! Hindi ko maintindihan! I was too young. I guess he fell in love with the soundtrack, with the song Somewhere My Love.

“When I got older, ako na ‘yung pumipili ng movies to rent. I was a horror freak back then but I also enjoyed mga Mel Brooks and Jerry Lewis comedies. We always bonded over movies — kahit ano but most especially action and adventure ones. Ayaw niya ng mga superhero movies. I think we saw ‘Die Hard’ a dozen times. He also always thought he looked like Harrison Ford and would always compare my mom to Natalie Wood. I miss him so much.”

RS with his father, lawyer-actor Rudy Francisco.

Businessman, commercial director and content creator RS Francisco on his father, lawyer Rudy Francisco:

“My father’s influence on my life has been profound. From a young age, he instilled in me the belief that my potential was limitless regardless of societal norms or expectations. His mantra, ‘You can be anything you want, as long as you strive to excel,’ became my guiding principle, pushing me to give my all in every endeavor.

“More than just granting me freedom, my father provided unwavering support and acceptance. He embraced every facet of my identity, including my gender orientation, with love and pride. His guidance, coupled with his acceptance, empowered me to fearlessly pursue my dreams.

“In essence, my father’s legacy is one of acceptance and guidance. His influence continues to shape my character and decisions, reminding me to embrace who I am and strive for excellence in all that I do.

“My most impactful memory with him was the time he comforted me when I felt uncertain about what I dreamed to be in the future. I was in elementary then and I would hear my peers share their dreams of being doctors or lawyers. One even wanted to be an astronaut. Whereas I had no idea about who I wished to become.

“My dad casually told me that I shouldn’t be worried since I’d still have a long time to ponder and decide. And no matter who or what I decided to be, he would respect that. I quipped, ‘Kahit gusto ko maging basurero o magtinda ng sampaguita? (Even if I want to be a garbage man or sell flowers on the street?)’

“He answered, ‘Kahit ano, basta wala kang ginagawang masama at maging best ka sa gagawin mo (Anything, for as long as you don’t do anything wrong and you strive to be the best in what you do).’ It’s this conversation with my dad that encourages me daily, to dream extraordinarily and give my all in every single task that I partake in.”

Noel as baby with his father, Faustino.

Talent manager and Metro Manila Filmfest spokesperson Noel Ferrer on father, Faustino Ferrer:

“I always say that Papa was the first man who ever loved me fully and unconditionally. He has set the standard so high that the next ones are inspired to measure up.

“Papa was a loving and faithful husband to Mama. He would cook for her, go to Mass with her regularly, and they would stroll around the neighborhood and laugh their hearts out like playful kids when they were together. He taught us to be loyal and kind.

“When I was still in school, Papa would tell me that all I needed to do each day was to live the best I could. And even during difficult times when I didn’t feel like enough, he’d say that it is enough. He wanted me to be happy. And being happy meant serving the community — he was a friend to all, the sacristan and lay minister at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish, his presence would easily cheer up a crowd, especially when he started singing and cracking jokes.

“Charity begins at home or so they say, but Papa taught us that it doesn’t stay there. I hope he’s happy with how we all turned out to be — simply joyful, loving and generous as he always was. We strive each day to make him proud!!!”

The TrueFaith frontman Medwin Marfil with his mom Loreta and dad Winnie.

True Faith frontman Medwin Marfil on his father Winnie Marfil:

“Tatay was such a hardworking man. He was one of the many Filipinos who was part of the early diaspora of OFWs in the 1970s. It must have been very difficult for him to leave his young family behind in order for all of us to survive.

“His sacrifice for his loved ones is truly remarkable and inspiring. He’s taught me the value of friendship and trustworthiness. He’s also imbued in us a sense of bravery, to be a fighter and to not give up easily.

“My Tatay is a man of few words. He’ll just speak his mind when necessary. He does have this ‘kung ano trip mo, eh ‘di trip mo’ demeanor about him. That’s why his friends really liked his company. I feel like he’s always been that way on the matter of my sexuality.

“I came out to my parents when Truefaith was already popular. I was crying when I did because I couldn’t mentally and emotionally reconcile my personal life with my status as a prominent recording artist. But I faintly remember that he was incurious about the whole thing. So the next day, it wasn’t discussed anymore. I guess that’s OK.”

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