MY father is a nice guy. He never hit us. But I used to think he’s distant.
Not that he doesn’t value our opinions or that there’s nary a chance to talk. When he’s home, for instance, I could pull him aside while he did all things household like a hard-scrabble pioneer wife or while he’s working at his “station” on a weekend.
Unlike my mom, with whom I can hold endless conversations no matter the circumstance, I would engage my father economically with a sweat on my brow and evasive eyes. There’s just nothing to talk about.
It was late one evening and I was off to get ice for some night cap, when he finally decided to open up. News was on the TV: A celebrity could not play Darna apparently on account of a broken finger. And there, apropos of nothing, my father asked me about my piss-take on President Duterte.
“I don’t know, Pops,” I sighed. “I don’t read the news.” I should have kept a few expert soundbites from newspaper cutouts in my wallet in occasions such as this.
“You claim to be a journalist and you don’t read the news?”
“Well, writing doesn’t mean you have to be a reader,” I explained, adding that everybody isn’t served the same helping of experience. How about we talk about “Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” Chopin’s Mazurkas, The Beverly Hillbillies, the space aliens? I did not expect these things to come to mind, but, really, if I had a son I had been meaning to talk to, my first impulse would be to ask him about the girls!
He went on to denounce the president’s moral hygiene, frowning upon the lashings of the old ultra-violent. He curses between grit teeth. And I laughed so hard that whiskey sprayed out of my nose.
“This country may have its ups and downs, but I still believe in the Philippines,” he said. “It may not happen now, it may not happen in the next 100 years, but it will happen.”
I didn’t know my father reads Diana Vreeland but, I said with wide-eyed wonder that, on that, we agree.
“Bourbon would be lovely,” he winked.
I didn’t reckon being holed up in the living room to drink alone with my father would be particularly exciting but, to this day, sometimes at the expense of our otherworldly affairs, we drink whenever we’re both home until we’re crazy enough to think we’re lords of all creations. He still gripes about Duterte, and I still laugh, sometimes wondering if he’s really nice, especially when drunk.