Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

Growing up without a father

Jun 18, 2022, 12:59 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

This is the first time I am ever writing this story about missing having a father since the age of two.

I envy children who every Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June would go out as one happy family with father, mother and siblings strolling at the park, dining in restaurants (even in fast food chains or even food centers of malls or taking out food from kiosks). Spending time talking in parks and watching movies or just plain shopping for grocery items.

You see my dad died of heart attack when I was two. I have no concept of him—but just those stories told me by my own siblings, by my mother and in my later years, through my half-brothers and half-sisters. Many of my half-siblings have also long died. Imagine my shock knowing that I had too many siblings outside of my mom’s official family.

Honestly, ours is the unofficial family and we are what they call then as the children born out of wedlock. My father, who is said to be a successful lawyer, a People’s court judge and a journalist for the People’s (something) newspaper, had three (I just hope only three families, ours being the third) wives. Of the many children only one turned out to be a lawyer (and that is my own brother) and one a journalist (that’s me).

I guess he was handsome, for how could he have won my beautiful mestiza mom’s affection if he was not? And he was tall (as we are all very tall) and from the looks of it he took care of all three families. But not when he died, that was in 1957 (see I am practically giving away my age). My mom and us siblings had to live our lives literally from scratch.

My only image of him was the one (sepia colored) picture that my mom kept and showed me before she passed away over eight years ago. I also had only one family photo with me on the lap of my mother. I can’t even remember if my father was in that photo at all. I should’ve kept that photo although my mother was not intending to give it to me just yet, or not at all.

My mom had to work menial jobs just to earn a living, she tucked us in orphanages for boys and girls (they were usually unisex back then) and I stayed the longest in an orphanage to a point that when I reached my third- year high school, I did not want to ever have a home but with the nuns. I considered them my own family.

I became tough, strong and independent because I had no one to lean on nor confide to. No father to listen to my tales of woe and no siblings to comfort me, when I needed it most. I was on my own with other orphans similarly suffering the pain I felt about being fatherless or motherless or both.

My concept of love was work, work and work. My concept of fun was playing barefoot in the spacious garden of the convent. My concept of study was doing things alone with no one to teach me lessons at all and no books to own.

Those were tough years, but I could not have it any better. And on hindsight I am glad that my mom tucked us away in convents and seminaries otherwise I might have been one of those rugby- sniffing boys and girls or directionless bum.

The convent taught us how to be prayerful, practical and trusting in God. I had an overdose of religiosity that when I graduated from high school, my mom insisted that I study at the University of Santo Tomas which I resented as I already had an overdose of prayer and that stuff.

I applied and took UPCAT praying so hard I would pass it. When the results came, as I was leaving to enroll at UST, I gladly rushed to UP to register and pay my tuition fee. My mother really hated it, saying I would become godless and a communist. I was at UP at the start of Martial Law. Then I truly left the faith until I returned to the Catholic Church when I was already working.

Why am I telling my story now? It is to make kids—with complete families— appreciate your parents and siblings. It is hard and lonely to grow up alone. Honor and respect your mothers and fathers because you can only have them once in your lifetime.

Happy fathers' day everyone. And a belated mothers' day too.

Make every day momentous and filled with great love and compassion.


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