We live in the province, while my father works in Makati. And though our family is not wealthy, neither are we poor. All is well.
Or so I thought.
Until I learned of my father’s unbelievably huge debt.
OUR FINANCIAL STRUGGLES
I transferred to another school at the cost of giving up what I really wanted to pursue. I even started working and living independently right when I turned eighteen. That was one less responsibility out of the house, so I thought it would improve our finances.
I was wrong.
Albeit ashamed, my parents would ask me to cover some expenses even after I had sent a portion of my salary. I did not mind giving more. What bothered me was the fact that our situation was not getting any better.
It came to a point when my father could no longer send financial support. He said he was paying debts, kesyo na-hold up—he gave one reason or another. This went on for months.
God is good that I was able to work from home and stay with my family. With my measly salary, I provided for food, though my mother and I would often skip meals so my siblings could eat. Sometimes, with an empty table, all we could do was cry ourselves to sleep.
Eventually, my father resumed his financial support. I decided to move to the metro where I can work and study at the same time. I even got a job near his office. Finally, things were going our way.
Until my father stopped supporting my family. Again.
DISCOVERING MY FATHER’S DARK SECRET
They tried to contact him, but he could not be reached. Suddenly, things I had ignored through the years started flashing in my mind. My hunch—or that which we Filipinos call ”kutob”—was so strong I could not fight it anymore.
It was December 2010 when I rushed to his office to confront him. In tears, I nervously demanded for answers which I really did not want to hear. He denied having another family or another woman. But he could not answer when I asked if there was another… “man.”
To say I was broken is an understatement. I remembered how much I had sacrificed that even my personal life was affected. My mother even tried to keep the problems to herself and helped him with his debts, only to find out the real reason behind it. We spent a lot of nights sleeping with an empty stomach—while he wasted a lot of money supporting someone else!
Hearing the news, my mother and siblings went all the way from the province to find him, but he had disappeared. We could no longer contact him.
Came Christmas Day, we were surprised that my aunt (his sister) had him come home, so we were forced to face each other. He apologized, but I felt it was done merely out of obligation. My anger ate me up that I cursed him through text messages. I never thought I would hate him that much.
God has miraculous ways of bringing peace into our then chaotic lives, healing our broken hearts and spirits, and making all things new.
Eight months after that devastating Christmas Day, I started attending the Feast. Later on, my father started attending with us. We even attended the Inner Healing Stream during the Kerygma Conference in 2011. The following year, he started serving the Lord and put so much effort in reaching out to us, despite being rejected most of the time.
With a heavy heart, I tried to respond as civilly as I could whenever he tried to communicate. It was way too difficult to trust him again that I no longer believed most of what he was saying. Little did I know that despite how I despised him, God had started healing us.
Fast forward to present, we can now get together and genuinely hug, kiss, and exchange “I love you’s.” My siblings and I can now open up to him, and we have learned to understand and appreciate him more. Although he and my mother are only civil to each other and may take more time to heal, we have gone so far from that painful past.
God’s scandalous grace—the kind of grace that accepts and loves all even sinners—brought forgiveness, healing, and change into our lives.
No father is perfect but God’s love is always perfect. Our story is perfectly described by the song that goes, “You turn ashes to beauty, mourning to dancing, anguish to songs of praise.” ♪ ♫ ♪ Indeed,
“God can turn any mess into a message, any test into a testimony, any trial into a triumph, and any victim into a victor.”
Happy Father’s Day!