[Family] The son who returned

Patrick Henry L. Taguibao
The story of the prodigal son is not uncommon — in various forms — even in Filipino families

A STEADFAST GUIDE. My father never stopped giving us helpful reminders even if we ignored him. Photo from Patrick Taguibao

MANILA, Philippines – My life hasn’t been the same since my father and I got in good terms after the silent treatment we gave each other for years.

“I didn’t get angry with you. In fact, I’m proud of you and I’m lucky to have a son like you.” Those were the words that re-sealed our relationship. 

But let me share with you the back story.

We were in good terms when I was in high school. We would spend time together with my siblings, either at home or outdoors. We watched movies together at home, in a room riddled with family photos. Best of all, he assisted us with our school assignments.

One time, my brother and dad got into a (verbal) fight, exchanging heated words the whole morning. It was a Sunday and we had just attended the 9 AM mass.

It was hell. I got in the middle of the fight and tried to stop them; and  I did. I thought I was doing the right thing when I spoke to each of them, getting their side of the story. Perhaps I wasn’t as grown up then, but having found my brother’s side to be more correct, I decided to side with him, since I thought my dad had thrown insults towards my brother whom I love so much.

That was when the silent treatment began.

My father has always told us there are more important things in life, and that our lives shouldn’t just revolve around friends, gadgets, food, etc. He often said this at home and we often ignored it.

Hindi niyo pa maintindihan kasi hindi pa kayo nagtatrabaho (You don’t understand because you’re not yet working),” he would say.

I was always irritated, thinking I was old enough not to be reminded each time he had the chance. I stopped communicating with my father; I swore to “avenge” my brother to him and even my mom.

The silent treatment went on and saw birthdays and family gatherings. If I ever spoke to them, it was in the form of disrespectfully talking back, all the while thinking I was doing right by my brother whom they “insulted.”

I became a rebel, and the situation got really bad. I never asked for permission on anything, never helped with household chores, constantly complained about the things I didn’t have.

One quiet morning, my dad — to whom I had done all possibly bad things a son can do — addressed me.

Pat, ‘wag mong isipin na inaaway ka namin (Pat, don’t think we are fighting with you) every time we remind you about something. Don’t think we intentionally want to offend you when we say something,” he said quietly. “We love you that’s why we are saying these things to you.”

I fell; emotionally and literally. After all that I had done to them, they still managed to tell me — ever so simply — that they love me.

All the times I called him makulet (bothersome) and nakaka-irita (irritating) not just in private but even if in front of others came rushing back to me.

I stood up, sobbed, went blank — even went blue. I realized how much my parents have endured from me and for me, and that they’re no longer young. Their time will come.

NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER. My family — we never gave up on each other. Photo from Patrick Taguibao

My parents never gave up on me, asked me to “come back” and welcomed me when I did find my way back.

Dad, from now on, I will always be the son that I never was.

Likewise, I am asking you to be my good dad. I love you. –

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