Dear 15-Year Old Me

I’m gonna tell you something.
In 20 years, you’re going to want to celebrate your birthday with a big party.
That’s not gonna happen.

But that’s okay.

There are so many things that will not work out for one reason or another.
That’s just life.
And I know you hate it. That’s not gonna change.
But you’ll live with it. You’ll be happier that way.

And that’s exactly why I want to reach out to you from 20 years in the future.

By the time this photo was taken, you just got the speech from Papa.
He says you act like you carry the whole world on your shoulders.
And I know you’re not gonna wanna hear this: He’s right.
It’s actually pretty annoying to remember now.

But that’s okay.

You’re young. You lack perspective.
Go through this depressive rebellious phase.

Here’s the thing and it’s probably hard for you to believe right now: You’re going to come out of this funk the big winner.
Let me tell you why.


You know that novel you just started working on now based on your insecurities? Well, you’re going to end up writing three of them before you even turn 20. You’re not going to get them published (because you’re shy) but you will get a good exercise out of it.

In a couple more years after that, during a time you feel like you’re at your lowest, you’re going to hit upon an idea that will define your life’s work.
Yep, you’re still working on it 20 years down the road.
It’s taking a while but it’s going to be your biggest passion project that will give your life a little focus.
You will grow. You will learn. And this project will change as you do.
And it’s going to be an amazing journey.

In about four years, you’re going to enter college and it’s going to kick off a series of events that will unravel so many other things that you didn’t know you had in you.
Remember feeling depressed that you never won any medals?
Well, you’re going to earn one when you graduate from high school but you’ll reap plenty during your time in college - for debating.
I’m not kidding. You will learn and you’ll be good at it. Not the best but you’ll surprise yourself.
But that’s barely anything. You’ll do so many awesome things and people will look up to you.
Unbelievable, right?

Here’s something else to blow your mind: You’re going to have a career in advertising after graduation.
I know it’s hard to imagine right now because you always thought you’d end up in movies and TV or even theater.
But don’t worry: You would get plenty of chances to play around with cameras and even perform on stage every now and then.
And people are going to want to pay you for the one thing you do as effortlessly as breathing: Writing.

That’s the beauty of the life you will get to live: You will discover talents and skills that you didn’t know you had but you will never compromise your passions. You will find ways. It’s going to take a while but you will get there. Trust me. I would know.

Lastly: I want you to know that in ten years, you’re going to meet the best friends you will ever have for life.
I know it’s gonna take a while but, believe me, they’re worth the wait.
Remember how you never have anyone to talk to about Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Disney, musical theater, and everything else that you’re into?
Well, believe me, you will never want to talk about anything else once you meet them. They’re going to be the smartest and happiest people you will ever meet.
They’re going to introduce you to new worlds you didn’t even know existed, you’ll go on trips together, you’ll organize and host their weddings, and you’ll have endless game nights, quiz nights, and other fun experiences together.
They’re always going to want to celebrate your birthday in one way or another. Just last night, two of them went out of their way just to see you and treat you to some drinks (even if they don’t drink themselves). That’s how special you are to them.


So why am I telling you this?
I’d rather not change anything in our history because we might undo all our gains but I need you to know that everything is going to be okay.
I hope that this inspires you to spend the next couple of years being more productive. I know everything feels like they suck right now but, I was hoping that by sharing these with you, you’ll focus your energies on honing your craft instead.
Who knows? Maybe if you had just pursued theater as vigorously as you should have, maybe you’d be doing that now along with everything else.

So, yeah, Papa was right. If you had just let it all go, who knows what else you could have achieved.
He just passed away earlier this year, by the way. I wish I can tell you that you had a great relationship with him when he passed but that’s not case. But like I said: Things don’t always work out the way we imagined they would. And that’s okay. We learn. We live.

Bottom line: You’ll be okay!

Since I’ve already reached backwards in time to reach you, let me take this opportunity to send a message forward as well.

Dear future me: Don’t screw this up.


My Father Who Is In Heaven

Last night, I got to see the Manila production of Godspell. It's a musical that I only got acquainted with a few months ago, so it wasn't like I've been longing to see it for a while but my interest in it, I suppose, underlines what I myself and many others already know: I am forever a musical theater boy.

"All Good Gifts" - one of my favorite songs from the show.
Which brings me to the true subject of this blog.
But first an orientation for anybody who only had the pleasure in recent months of inhabiting the same space I revolve in: I write to purge myself of thoughts and feelings that otherwise would fester in my head. I find it cathartic.

I share what I write (and, by extension, my innermost thoughts) for no absolute reason than to draw attention to myself. I wouldn't be sharing them if I didn't think the story wouldn't be worth someone else's time. And stories are, after all, what I live for. Just check out my new Twitter profile.

Papa took me to my first trip to Canada in 1997.
So, on to this story.

My dad passed away last March.
Yes, it's been months.

In all that time, I've been trying to write this very blog.

In all that time, I've been trying to figure out how I really felt about him being gone.

I suppose I should feel regret.

Dad lived and, subsequently, died in Los Angeles surrounded by his first family, so he was well taken care of. To contextualize my place in the structure of his families (not a typo), that makes me a contender for tomorrow's Bastardbowl.

His very last message. So much for that, I guess.
A month before he passed, he was in town. He wanted to see me in one of those weekends he was here.

I couldn't indulge him.

I had work.

I suppose I should feel regret that I put my job first over seeing my father one last time. I didn't even give myself time to grieve. There were just too many things to do.

Yet while your first thought may have been "what a tragedy", mine was "wow, what a cliché".

And I hate that. It doesn't make for a good story.

No, that's not what I regret.

Having sorted through how I really feel these past few months, my only regret was that I don't think he ever really knew how angry I am.

Not because he didn't love me. For all his faults, the man always did believe he loved his children, even the bastards. That much I know.

Not because he didn't believe in me. For all that he verbalized his disappointment in almost everything I do, the man always did think I could do great things - even if I didn't think so. That much I know.

No, I'm angry because the last time I did get to see him, he made me feel like shit. He screamed at me and scolded me for the randomest things - in public and, most of the time, in front of his first wife and their children.

And here's the piece de resistance: The man - a serial womanizer who had fathered more than ten children - found it "abnormal" when I told him I associate more as asexual. Gee, dad. What's normal then? Spreading your seed around and leaving a trail of heartbreaks and bastards on your path?

Growing up, in the very rare instances that I got to see him, I remember that this was always his thing. It got so bad that I never wanted to see him anymore.

I thought he had mellowed down these past few years and being able to talk to him had been a smoother process. I thought he was finally seeing me as an adult - even if I felt otherwise.

Yet, there it was. The longest and most awkward five days in LA. The only thing I associate the city with.


I suppose that I regret having lost the chance to rectify the situation. That whenever I think of him now, that's the first feeling that jump out of my chest.


Maybe I regret missing the chance to tell him to his face how angry he made me. Maybe he would've offered an apology. Maybe my last memory of him wouldn't have been that.


So many could-have-beens. Such a cliché.‎ I hate that. It doesn't make for a good story.

The good news is that my dad's part in my story is far from over, at least I'd like to think so. It's an open-ended conclusion, as it were.

Even as I write this, I find myself getting less and less angry. I've also come to the conclusion that I probably won't miss his presence in my life. I won't miss seeing his face next time I come to LA. I won't miss his voice most of all.

I will remember him, though, whenever I think about my passions. He got me my first comic book and took me to my very first musical theater show. I can't give the man too much credit for everything I turned out to be but I'll give him those. It may sound shallow to hear but I met my best friends in life because I had an interest in them. Papa made a good call on that one and I'll be forever grateful.

And so I bookmark my father's chapter in my story but I move on.
No more anger.
No more regret.
And no more clichés.
Not even a dopey father's day greeting to signify the occasion.