By Julian Mauricio

In 2009, I spent New Year’s Eve with my father Leny, stepmother Irene, and half-sister Erin in Baguio City. Hours before the night sky was alight with fireworks, the four of us were walking around Camp John Hay. We were talking about where to have lunch when a man approached my father. I was listening to music on my iPod, so I didn’t hear exactly what he said, but apparently he was a friend of my father’s from college.

 My father Leny's Facebook profile picture

The author’s father Leny

My father introduced my stepmother and half-sister to his friend, saying, “Pare, asawa ko at anak namin.” I waited for him to wave me over to them so he could introduce me to his friend too, but he didn’t. I stood there like a statue, unsure what to do or say. Should I cough like a chainsmoker and hope Dad gets the hint? I wondered. But in the end, I stayed silent.

After his friend left, my father ushered my stepmother and half- sister into a nearby restaurant. I stared after them, feeling like a loser and outsider in my own family. Eventually, I followed them inside. But as we ate, I wondered why he didn’t introduce me to his friend.

Later that night, after the New Year’s Eve festivities, I hid in the bathroom of our hotel room so I could sort out my feelings in my journal. After hours of scribbling, I came to what I thought was the only logical conclusion: My father didn’t introduce me as part of his family because he was ashamed. He was ashamed to have a gay man as his firstborn.

1 - The author in 2018

Julian Mauricio

Growing Up

It’s been over a decade since that incident in Baguio and, within that time, my father and I have grown, both as individuals and as father and son. But we didn’t have the best relationship when I was growing up.

He was, and still is, quite a conservative and religious man, so he and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on many things. For instance, he hit the roof when I began experimenting with dyed hair and eyeliner. But although he didn’t always understand me, he still tried his best to be a good father.

Looking back, I realize now that it was mostly my fault that he and I clashed a lot back in the day. I was an angsty, hormonal teen who would eventually be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a severe mental illness characterized by extreme and sudden mood swings.

At Shangri-La BGC with my father, stepmother Irene, and sister Erin in December 2019

Julian at Shangri-La BGC with his father, stepmother Irene, and sister Erin

He was a lawyer who worked long hours at my uncle’s firm. Although he loved his job, it often left him stressed and tired, so he found it hard to deal with me on top of everything else he had to do. I spent most of my life resenting him for what I thought were his failings.

That changed when I was diagnosed with BPD and began therapy in 2015. My therapist Randy Dellosa helped me understand my father. As a child, I used to resent him for spending long hours at the law office instead of spending time with me. But it wasn’t until I became an adult myself that I understood that was his way of showing me he loved me. He grew up poor, so when I was born he swore he’d work himself to the bone to provide for me, and he did. I was just too wrapped up in my own teen angst to notice.

I used to think my father was ashamed of me being gay. But now that I think about it, he showed his support in his own way.

Once I asked him to buy me Sailor Moon toys for Christmas. Some parents would’ve made a scene, but he didn’t. When I woke up on Dec. 25, the Sailor Moon toys were under the tree, in all their pink-and-white glory.

4 - The four of us with my late grandparents Mely and Vacion

Julian and his family with late grandparents Mely and Vacion

I love you, Dad

I’m glad I was given the opportunity to write this article. It enabled me to reflect on what my relationship with my father was like, and what I’d like it to become. Aside from English, I didn’t get good grades in elementary and high school. I even flunked out of college because my mental health became a problem halfway through my sophomore year at Ateneo de Manila University. I’m never going to have the conventional family or love life he probably wanted for me. Instead of becoming a lawyer like him, I chose to pursue a career in the arts.

I’m far from being the perfect son. But I do hope that one day, I’ll be able to do something great so my father will really look at me as his pride and joy.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/19/pride-and-joy/)