What I inherited from my Dad

Rachel Alejandro

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Hajji Alejandro’s secret to being youthful is no big mystery at all. It’s simply his attitude toward life.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE. Hajji at my wedding in Boracay. Photo courtesy of Raymund Isaac

MANILA, Philippines – There is a saying in Tagalog, Kung ano ang puno, siya ang bunga, which means the same as the English expression, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  I am my father’s daughter. We don’t look anything alike but what I inherited from him is something that defines us both —— his voice.

While playing around with the karaoke function of our CD player, my brother discovered by accident that if you play my version of “Nakapagtataka,” —— a song that my dad, Philippine pop legend Hajji Alejandro, released in the 70s and I revived in the 90s —— and lowered its key by slowing it down, my voice deepens and turns into exactly Hajji’s rich, full-bodied voice. Freaky but true!

Turning 59 and celebrating his 40th year in show business this year, my dad appears to have found the fountain of eternal youth and doesn’t look a day over 45. Everyone asks me: What’s his secret? How does he manage to stay so young?

KAY GANDA NG KANYANG MUSIKA. Dad Hajji at PhilPop Festival 2012. Photo courtesy of GR Rodis

Two years ago while on holiday with my family at the beach, I started rubbing my eyes, thinking that dirt had gotten into my left contact lens. I panicked when it wouldn’t go away. When I finally got it checked at a clinic in Manila, a doctor diagnosed that I had eye floaters, a condition normally experienced by old people or those like me who are very near-sighted, just like my dad before he got lasik surgery, though my grade is much, much higher than his.

To my dismay, I found out that there is no real treatment for floaters and I was doomed to have partial vision for the rest of my life. The doctor said that I would eventually learn to live with the string-like objects swimming around my line of vision. Yeah right, I thought. It was so uncomfortable and irritating at first. But after a year, I had to admit that the doctor was actually right. My brain had learned to tune them out and perceive them as normal —— most of the time. At the end of the day, it’s what your brain tells you that ultimately becomes your experience.

One of the things that I have always admired most about my dad is his great sense of humor and ability to make light of any situation. He always manages to see the positive angle. He’s not religious or anything but he never forgets to give thanks for all his blessings.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER. Song and dance number with Dad. Photo courtesy of GR Rodis

Lately, I’ve come to realize that perhaps my dad’s secret to being youthful is no big mystery at all. It’s simply his attitude toward life. In the same way that over time my brain has been tricked to ignore the annoying floaters, his outlook has allowed him to focus on the good things rather than the bad. Gratitude alone has made him a happy, healthy, prosperous man.

I learned practically everything there is to know about how to be a true performer from Hajji Alejandro. Even more than that, I hope to instill in myself his very best quality —— the way he sees life through rose-tinted glasses. Some say it’s naive or courting trouble to be overly optimistic. The truth is, we’ve all harmed ourselves a great deal more by assuming the worst. Let’s be honest, most of our fears never actually materialize. Often we make ourselves unhappy needlessly. It’s like pre-emptive sulking.

I think if we could all learn to have my dad’s light-hearted nature and child-like enthusiasm, we’d all have less wrinkles, like him, and a lot more hair at his age!

ALL IN THE FAMILY. Backstage before a performance with Dad and my brother Ali. Photo courtesy of GR Rodis

Happy Father’s Day and Happy 40th Anniversary, Dad! – Rappler.com



Rachel Alejandro is a singer-actress-entrepreneur. She co-owns The Sexy Chef and Chef Mom’s D Lite, OBC 5 Star, Inc., a healthy food delivery and party catering service (www.thesexychef.ph /www.chefmomsdlite.com). She will be joining the cast of Atlantis Productions’ “Rock Of Ages” on July 12-28 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Makati. Follow her on Twitter: @SexyChefRachelA.

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