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Truths my father told me

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 13, 2021 5:00 am

There are many wonderful fathers in the world, in histories and in stories. But among them there is one particular father that stands out.

The one who was a brilliant lawyer and taught his children to practice justice. He knew life was not fair, so he accepted fees from rich clients but gave pro bono service to the poor.

The one who brought his family to good places during summer, but at times let them sleep on banig in the nipa hut of his property caretaker. He wanted his children  to experience  immersion.

The one who taught his children to spend wisely, but bought them good education and books.

The one who said the world is full of good people as well as bad people: cheaters, impostors, liars, mean persons, greedy persons. Always try to be the better person.

The one who made me cry when he scolded me because I told him I wanted to take up Fine Arts. He told me to take up  Law instead because “painting is just a hobby.” Then he made me cry when, on my 13th birthday, he gifted me with a set of paint brushes, oils, palette and easel.

He’s the one.

Ed Angara to Sonny Angara: Give opportunities through education.

My father Ed Angara taught me so many important life lessons. In public service he said our goal should be to open doors and give opportunities for upward mobility to Filipinos ­— through education foremost of all. His life was a living testament to the power of education. From humble beginnings to scholarships at UP and Michigan.

When we were kids our bonding trips were to book stores here and abroad and we (the kids) could choose “unli” books (but not toys). One time the cashier, after seeing the books we were going to buy, asked us, “Do you guys own a school or something?”

  Senator Sonny Angara and the late Senator Ed Angara

Anton Huang to Nikki Huang: Value hard work and discipline.

My father showed me the world, and taught me how to be in it. During my gap year in 2018, my dad gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever received to date: to travel the world with him on his business trips. We went from Hong Kong, to Shanghai, to Cambodia, all the way to New York, and then farther still to Greece, Italy, the UK, and France  in the span of 12 months;  I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much, so fast, at any other point in my life.

I learned a great many things while we circumnavigated. Watching my dad work on buying trips and during fashion month was a marvel, and being by his side the entire time had me feeling the most tired and fulfilled I’d ever been at the end of every single day.

I learned the invaluable skill of engaging with people from all over the world. He knows how to adapt his mannerism and conversation according to a great variety of cultural norms, and how to carry himself with confidence, savvy, and grace no matter how foreign the situation. Watching my dad go from one event to the next felt like shadowing a foreign dignitary representing a nation.

  SSI president Anton Huang and Nikki Huang, head of communications for Mind You MHS National Youth Council and WWW Philippines

From my dad I also learned about hard work, discipline, and the importance of respecting obligations. I’ve never seen anyone else work so tirelessly, so well, balancing familial duties and his ceaseless day job with fierce determination.

He’ll take meetings straight Monday to Friday  from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with only a Diet Coke and some otap on hand to keep him going,  not miss a beat, and make it to a Saturday bike ride with friends, and then to Sunday family lunch and dinner.  It seems to be a superhuman quality of his.

And while my dad, through example, has taught me so many of life’s most important, complex lessons, a couple of which I’ve outlined above, he also taught me simpler things: How to enjoy a good whiskey at a hotel bar no matter where you are. How to fight jet lag and sightsee at the same time (24 hours no sleep, espresso, and lots of walking). How to navigate an airport like it’s nobody’s business (a carefully practiced, scarily organized routine). How to eat a whole artichoke. How to have a good laugh with the people you love. How to carry on when everything seems like it’s falling apart. How to always have a Plan B.

But, as we went from showrooms, to boardrooms, to cafes,  to exclusive restaurants, to glamorous parties and afterparties on my gap year, perhaps what I treasure the most are the 7 a.m. breakfasts we had in contented near-silence to start our day: with the utmost pride, I’d order him his breakfast (which he’d say he didn’t need, every night before going to sleep)—mint tea, croissants, poached eggs—and watch him devour it completely, every single time.

Manny Villar to Mark Villar: Face every challenge. Never fear.

  Secretary of Public Works and Highways Mark Villar and former Senator Manny Villar

One of the most important lessons that my father has taught me is to never be afraid of failure. I have witnessed how my father courageously faced every challenge that came his way with a positive attitude, allowing him to nimbly pivot from a misstep to a leap forward and upward.

He always emphasized that success is built upon the lessons we have learned through our failures and one of the biggest things that hinders us from reaching greater heights is our fear of failure. Once we let go of the fear of failure and realize that experiencing defeat is necessary to make us grow and to strengthen us, then we are able to succeed and bear fruit. Though we experience failure we must not let our spirit be defeated.

However, whenever we succeed in our goals, my father is also quick to remind me that, while we should not let failure get to our hearts, neither should we let success go to our heads. Quoting Donald Kitson he says that we should endeavor to maintain “dignity in defeat and humility in victory.”

Francis Magalona to Maxene Magalona: Be proud of being Filipino.

 Actress Maxene Magalona and the late Master Rapper Francis Magalona

One of the most valuable lessons that my dad taught me was to be proud of who I am and where I come from.

Through his music, I learned how to love myself just as I am without wanting to change or fix anything. His songs were about love and pride for our country, the color of our skin, and the uniqueness of being Filipino. He rapped about equality among human beings and how each of us represents the colors that make up this beautiful kaleidoscopic world.

Despite being a famous artist, he treated those around him with respect and saw them as equals, as he really believed that we are all one and the same. By seeing how he was genuinely kind to others, I learned how to live with sweetness and compassion.

Jaime Augusto Zobel to Mariana Zobel: Be true to your core values.

  Bank of the Philippine Islands vice president Mariana Zobel and Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel

My Father has always led by example — especially in being true to his core values, grounding elements, and reason for being... and in sticking to that core, despite how difficult it may be at times.

Joe De Venecia to Toff De Venecia: Relate with people. Empower them.

  Congressman Toff de Venecia and former Speaker Joe de Venecia

There’s a certain way in which Dad relates to people. He’ll make them feel valued and respected. He’ll interact with them via a mix of pleasantries, humor, and the occasional over-exaggeration but always with compassion and most definitely with panache, especially when he takes to the microphone!

Honestly, it’s a skill I have yet to acquire but wearing my heart on my sleeve when addressing the public certainly helps. Growing up, I honestly kind of squirmed when I’d catch him in these situations. I was always the more private type and needed my environment to be private, too. But of course, my family was in showbiz and politics, so it's like wanting to be a fish when you're surrounded by a desert.

It's only now that I'm on my second term as a congressman that I realize how important it is to relate with people. And not just relating with them but going out of your way to relate, like Dad does.

Seeing the best in them, empowering them, and in signature JDV style, bringing them together despite their differences. Dad was the architect of the historic Rainbow Coalition during the time of President Ramos, which united people of diverse backgrounds and affiliations. Through my work, I see an equally vibrant rainbow on the horizon, especially as we endeavor to consolidate and pump-prime our Philippine Creative Industries through policy and legislation.

Thanks for being a role model, JDV!

Felix Ang to Patty Ang-Almeda: Be humble.

  Fashion designer Patty Ang-Almeda and CATS founder and president Felix Ang

The greatest lesson — or I would say, everyday reminder, that has been instilled with me and will be for the rest of my life my dad has taught me — is to always keep my feet on the ground. Be humble. No matter what we have achieved in life, no matter where we are. It’s going to be a long, long journey still for me and keeping this mentality for all of us, his kids, is something we’re always reminded of when we see him.