Saturday, November 7, 2009

Secrets de Famille

I love reading other bloggers not only because of the sheer variety of our life stories and observations, but also because of the commonality of our experiences.

Mr. Scheez posted an entry entitled "Forgiveness", in which he expressed his feelings about his father's "extra-curricular activities." When I realized how long my reply to his post was, I decided it was best not to hijack his Comment Box and instead write a full entry of my own.

Like most families, mine has several skeletons in the closet. Deep, dark secrets that were not to be discussed openly - if at all - but discussed nonetheless, in hush-hush tones and while glancing furtively around to make sure the walls were not listening. Usapang matatanda, they would say, as they shooed us curious children out of the room while they murmured about...things.

Hence, I was already an adult when I confirmed my father's numerous affairs. The confirmation came straight from the old man himself, one rare night when we were alone and just shooting the breeze. We had been talking about something else entirely - and completely sober, mind you - when out of the blue bam! "Oh, by the way, may mga kapatid kayo sa labas."

My reaction was not one of hurt or shock but more of a curious "Well, holy shit, no kidding."

I've often maintained that "All men are pigs." And I say that with as much rancor and bitterness as I would say "The sky is blue." or "Lasagna tastes good." 'Tis merely an observation, and most of the time, a fact.

At any rate, my father's confession answered many questions about why there were so many rocky patches in my parents' marriage and why my mother has a long-standing grudge against certain relatives who knew but apparently didn't stand up enough for her.

His confession didn't exactly come as a shock, because children instinctively pick up things, especially when there is trouble at home. My uncles would often joke about how my dad had a girl in every port - literally, because he was a globe-trotting man - and that I should go and meet my illegitimate siblings some day. These jokes were met with much annoyance from my aunts and a stern "Tst!" from my grandmother, so I didn't give them much thought. My uncles played all sorts of pranks on us and this wasn't anything unusual.

I had my first inkling that these jokes were half-meant when I was about 12. My mother - usually a quiet, serene woman - had been in an extended state of agitation, eventually replaced by a state of anger mixed with palpable fear and panic. (I would find out years later that dad's mistress du jour had gone Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and had threatened to kill us so she could have my father all to herself. Sweet lady, nuttier than a fruitcake.)

I think all children would rush up to aggressively protect their mothers' feelings and interests: I know I would've hated my dad intensely had I discovered his infidelities much earlier on. Not because of any possessive notion that only my mom should have access to my dad, but in hindsight, more because of the pain and anguish he inflicted upon her.

While it really isn't about you, as others have pointed out, it most certainly does involve you, simply because two people you love are also inextricably involved. Whatever resentments I have towards my father do not stem from his marital infidelities; they come from other issues altogether. I'm pretty sure, though, that my half-siblings - whoever and wherever they may be - are the ones who must hate him the most. I am the legitimate first-born son and there are certain moral, societal, and legal guarantees protecting that status.( I just chuckled as I wrote that because last month my brother stated that dad had had many other trysts long before marrying our mother - resulting in at least one child born out of wedlock pre-dating yours truly.)

But chuckling aside, for better or worse, I have had a complete family unit growing up. Obviously, my half-siblings did not have that privilege, and how deeply that has affected their lives I do not know. To this day, my spinster aunts are still very reticent about discussing les affaires de mon pere. It's easier to wheedle bits and pieces out of my uncles - must be some kind of guy thing. My brother, who has far more time on his hands than I do, has been my best weasel thus far. I hear reports of sightings, and that at least one half-sib looks like our sister, and lives quite near the old neighborhood where we grew up.

I am most curious to meet him. And the ones in Germany. And Singapore. And Guam.

My mother, of course, need not know. I don't believe she'd have the same equanimity as my ex-sister-in-law did when my brother recently and officially presented her with his four extra-marital spawn (from two different women, mind you) at a recent bienvenida for her, my nephew, and niece. My legitimate nephew, for his part, gamely played Big Brother to all of them. My niece was non-plussed as long as she remained lolo's girl.

While my mother has learned to love and accept her illegitimate grandchildren as her own, I can only guess what anguish she initially went through seeing history repeating itself before her eyes a generation later.

What can I say? All men are pigs. The sky is blue. And lasagna tastes good.

And my brother is truly my father's son, in more ways than one.

It must be a guy thing.


  1. I never really liked it when my uncles would tell me... "huwag ka ngang babakla bakla... napakababaero ng tatay mo, tapos ganyan ka..." to think that my own father didn't make my sexual preference as an issue....

    i grew up with my grandparents, and if you had a lolo in his early sixties who exuded that manly aura of Eddie Garcia and built like machete himself (Gardo Versoza), alam mo na kung anong katarantaduhan ang pwede niyang gawin. I've seen my lola cry herself to sleep numerous times. And i hated my lolo for it. But when he died, i made a promise to myself that i will only remember him through the good things he did...... and how he loved us dearly... :)

  2. i love it how the oldies go spontaneous. like how your dad said it. its like the same day my lola told me im adopted.

    out of nowhere, she goes saying "hindi mo kami kadugo." and i was like "ok.saw that coming anyway & btw imma be out."

    it felt like nothing happened.

  3. I envy you, man.

    It's been 15 years now pero hindi pa rin maamin ng tatay ko na may affair siya. Weird kasi kami alam na namin pero siya parang ayaw pa rin niyang aminin sa sarili n'ya na alam na namin.

  4. Hah! My mother "adopted" my half brother. That's why when people ask me how many are you in the family, I'd say, we are three, including one adopted half brother.

    Maybe someday, I'd write my half-brother's interesting story. After all, his was a successful one, knowing how close he was to having a wasted life.

  5. @ YJ : I think that one of the things that mark the end of childhood is the realization that the people we look up to - parents and grandparents - turn out to have clay feet, after all. Adults seem like imposing, powerful godlike figures to a child, and the revelation that they are all too human after all isn't an easy one. I guess I'm grateful my own epiphanies came when I was old enough to process them more with my brain than with my heart. Children are shielded from ugly truths for many reasons: I guess because they're too young to deal with it is a good one.

    But flaws and all, you are correct. In the end, I would like to remember them with love. Because I, too, am imperfect. But like them before me, I try. I try.

  6. @ Herbs D.: All secrets come spilling forth, sooner or later. I love how you said how the oldies just go spontaneous and spit it out. Maybe they just can't contain it any more, no?

    Funny, too, how when they drop the bomb, they often find out that gee, the kid knew all along. Much like coming out and being met with sighs and eye-rolling all around. Like, duhhhhhhh.

  7. @ m2mtripper : I think one of our fathers' mottos is "Deny, deny, until you die." It's like confronting a lover with irrefutable evidence of his infidelity, except we can't exactly break up with our parents, can we?

    Strange thing is, it's my aunts who remain tight-lipped about the whole thing. Maybe they're guilty because they knew all along. My brother suspects they know far more than what they're letting on - that they might actually have been in contact with one of the queridas and her son all these long years, and that my dad has actually been a part of their lives for a while.

    Abangan. The plot, like blood, always thickens.

  8. @ Galen : How gracious and generous of your mother to do that. It's living proof of the old yet valid argument: "Wala namang kasalanan yung bata." That's the line I told my mom when she declared - very dramatically, I might add - that she would never recognize my brother's post-marital kids. Summa total, as I predicted, when my brother finally brought them home to meet their grandparents, she tried to put up a cold front that soon melted. Now she treats them with the same loving care she bestows on her legit apos.

    Also: your half-brother probably tried harder, simply because he had more to prove. If not to you, then to himself. I can only imagine how being an illegitimate child can damage one's self-worth, especially one who has to live with his father's legitimate family. That's the stuff Pinoy dramas are made of, and maybe why they're so popular. Because the chord they strike is so common and so true.

  9. I think the contents of one's closet reflect a truer image of a person - more than, say, a family name or a favourite shirt or the games one plays in the privacy of one's bedroom.

    ... but that's just me. *ahem*

  10. The mango doesn't fall far from the tree, so the saying goes. My father's father had another family before he married my lola. My father, too, has kids l'extérieur de la famille.

    Is the drive to spread out the genetic material too ingrained in the DNA that it overcomes the conditioned social norms?

    esep, esep ;)


  11. @ Eternal Wanderer : Methinks social constraints were created precisely to contain that hard-wired drive of males to spread their DNA far and wide. Why females continue spreading their legs despite all of this eludes me.

    Given my penchant for collecting and my ever-growing kennel (I was looking at dogs again over the weekend wouldja believe), it's not hard to imagine I would've been just like my father had I been straight.

    Then again, not too late for that. Heheheheh.

  12. @ Marcus: Bading Down Under : Since your comment was so enigmatic, I think I'll just say my closet (the walk-in one, anyway) contains suits, my "good" shoes, underwear, and boxes and boxes of hats, caps, beanies, ski bonnets, and other assorted headgear I've collected over the years.

    Make of it what you will.

  13. Rude: what? more dogs?!

    musa is more than a handful for me to handle.

    but i think i want a choc lab, husky, or a golden lab, too.


  14. @ E.W. : I was looking at a blue-black Chow - that's a pretty rare color and there are several on the market right now. But pricey!

    Someone also finally put up a red Chow dammit buti na lang ubos na yung mga cream Chows.

    There's also this great package deal on Huskies, buy 2 pups, get the mom free.Kaya lang I'm not too thrilled with the colors.

    I was also in Cartimar for my usual weekend dog supply trip, and I saw a rare blue-eyed white Husky - kaso payatot saka ayoko na bumili ng aso sa Cartimar.This black dog who's like a reverse image of my Spitz was also still there after two months of being unsold hehe sabi ko ibagsak pa nila ang presyo kasi lugi na sila sa pakain.

    Did I tell you I was also at the casa today inspecting the progress on my car and I ended up considering a good offer for a twin-turbo GTO, my choice of red or black? But I'm holding on to my cash till I get to see that Alfa Spyder my dealer said was for sale.

    Yes, I'm impractical and I have no life.

  15. men are not just pigs

    they are far worse than those

    unfortunately, i still end up with them

  16. @ anteros' : Well, sometimes they're fine swine.

    Ah, but who cares, right? It's not like we're gonna marry them or anything.

  17. Rude: well, you do need to expend your monetary holdings. you can't bring them to the afterlife lolz

    what i really, really want is a blue-eyed white german shepherd. a host of mine in netherlands has one, and i fell in love with it.

    it was soooooo handsome!

    the dog, not the amo, mind you hahahaha

  18. @ E.W. : *furiously marks down "blue-eyed white German Shepherd" *

    I'm a fuckin' addict.

    Were you in Amsterdam?

  19. Rude: among other places in netherlands, yes.

    the doggie looks something like this.

    dammit, i'm flooding your comment space already (not the first time, nor the last lolz). wanna tete-a-tete over at my pingbox?

  20. I just hope that the skeletons in our family's closet don't get out... I don't mind if mine does, but not the others'

  21. @ Rygel : Let's hope they only get rattled from time to time, but never break out.

  22. My father has had his share of half-siblings: 1 on his father, 4 on his mother. I grew up knowing that he loved them, despite and because.

    I admire your open-mindedness. It is difficult to see beyond these considerations if you are affected by it.

    I do hope you get to meet them someday.

  23. when we learned about it, na may kapatid pala kami, I was mad and hurt at sabi ko hindi ko siya matatangap

    but when I've learned what happen to my other brother, naawa ako sa kanya, grabe pala napagdaanan niya :( mas nagalit tuloy ako sa tatay ko

  24. buti na lang hindi tayo nanganganak noh. baka mas marami pa tayong anak sa labas.

  25. @ Manech : As I mentioned, my dad's lucky I didn't confirm his shenanigans when I was much younger, otherwise my reactions would've been very different. Perspective is a matter of time and distance. Of course, since my mother is the directly-aggrieved party, she has the right to feel wronged even today. I will never discuss it with her, though: i'm sure it's one of those wounds that never quite heal and it would do no one any good to re-open it.

    And thanks! I hope I really can meet him/them someday. We are blood, after all.

  26. @ xtian1978iii: Iba talaga ang reaksyon ng bata. Pero tama ka, yung mga bata din ang kawawa - isa yun sa nakakainis sa mga pangyayaring ganito, bukod sa pagtataksil sa mga nanay natin.

    @ Ming Meows : Tunay ka diyan!

  27. i was already drafting about my quirky family when you posted this.

    at times like this, how i wish that i was an adopted child, or i was the son who did not make to teens. or i wasn't born at all.

    thanks for sharing rudeboy. reading through makes me feel like am not the only one suffering from the quirks of my parents.

  28. @ beki : Write it and post it!

    I was actually inspired by Mr. Scheez' short post about his own dad when I wrote this. I wasn't sure how he'd feel about it, though, which is why I refrained from linking it.

    So, I'd love to read your own quirky family story. We all have 'em, and it'd be nice to share.

  29. not all men are pigs. just the ones that are make a big entrance. lol

  30. reading this, i got curious what kind of man Rudeboy is. Would he be just like his brother, a father's son?


  31. @ engel: Hey, man! Interesting question, that. Offhand, since I consider my dogs my surrogate children, chances are I'd probably have multiple offspring by different women. For sheer variety.

  32. I just don't see the logical connection between all men are pigs and your father having children by a woman other than your mother.

  33. "Oh, by the way, may mga kapatid kayo sa labas." - napaka-casual ng pagkakasabi nya, ha? para lang "o mga anak, kakain na tayo" or "mga anak tutulog na tayo".

    it's okay if you linked my post. i don't mind naman. =)

    ako naman, nalulungkot na lang ngayon. i can't make him stop from his "activities". lalo na ngayon wala na si inay (she passed away last july). sabi nga ni ate, me "pangangailangan" din ang tatay namin.

  34. @ line of flight : If you don't consider cheating on one's wife and bringing innocent children into this world to live an existence branded as "illegitimate" as swinish behavior, then you won't get the link.

    "All men are pigs" is, of course, a generalization. And there are exceptions to all generalizations, including this statement.

  35. @ Mr. Scheez : My dad's never been the sort to sit anyone down and prep them for a "serious" conversation. He's always just blurted out what's on his mind, damn you if you don't like it. I guess that's one thing he's passed on to me - the disdain for beating around the bush.

    So sorry to hear your mom passed away and so recently, too. My deepest sympathies. As for your dad's "needs," perhaps now is not a good time for me or anyone outside your family to hazard any opinions.

    My good thoughts are with you. And thanks for the post inspiration.

  36. my dad, never knew all the secrets that i have inside.. hehehehe

  37. it's no secret na my dad had a first love and they conceived out of wedlock. kaso my dad's only half chinese and looks a little mexican so the poor girl's family (na pure chinese) took her + child away. i guess that makes us the second family but it's all good.

    every now and then, i think my dad misses her. i wonder how different things would've been if they eloped or something. malamang i wouldn't be cyberstalking err bloghopping right now.

  38. @ tim : Well, we all have our little secrets, don't we? Oh, and hi and welcome.

    @ citybuoy : My mother used to sigh about all the other suitors she rejected in favor of my dad - usually when she's mad at him. I used to chuckle that "Well, if you'd married that sardine factory owner, I wouldn't be here right now mocking you."

    Somehow that didn't make her feel better ehehehehe.

  39. "Well, if you'd married that sardine factory owner, I wouldn't be here right now mocking you."

    Somehow that didn't make her feel better ehehehehe.

    try ko nga yan sa dad ko. kaso kung nagkataon, ika nga ng lab mo, baka pilikmata ko nalang walang latay. haha