How my strict father
became my best friend

He was fuming the whole car ride home, but I did not care

Author took this photo of her dad at Plaka on a trip to Athens, Greece. (Contributed by author)

The author and her dad outside St. Basil’s Cathedral at the Red Square on a trip to Moscow (Contributed photo)


That was the word my dad used every time I asked permission to do something I was prohibited from doing. It was the same answer for everything: from smaller things like going to the mall with my friends unchaperoned, to bigger offenses, such as having a boyfriend before I finished my education.

When you’re young and peer pressure is a thing, you grow to resent what’s standing in your way and social acceptance. For me, that was my dad.

While my friends were out at bars into the wee hours, I was already in bed because I had a strict midnight curfew. While they traded stories about their funniest drunken experiences, I had nothing to contribute because I had never even tasted alcohol.

It was for this reason that I disliked my dad throughout my teenage years, because I saw him as the barrier between me and enjoying my youth with friends. I did not understand that he had reasons for refusing to allow me to do things; all I heard was his “no.”

I started rebelling in high school. It began with small things: sneaking out with friends to the mall without asking permission, pushing my curfew to 1 a.m. by ignoring my parents’ calls and text messages asking where they could pick me up.

I remember one time when I was a high school senior, and a good friend threw a party in her aunt’s bar in Quezon City. It was my first time in a bar, and I relished finally being part of the action. By midnight, my dad was already looking for me, and when I didn’t respond, he went to pick me up himself (we lived in Parañaque, so this was big deal).

He was fuming the whole car ride home, but I did not care. In many ways, the feeling that I was breaking my dad’s rules was cathartic. I liked knowing that I was experiencing something I would not have been allowed to do otherwise, even if other people my age considered them mundane, “normal” experiences.

I got more daring in college. When I studied in France, I started drinking alcohol

I got more daring in college. When I studied in France in my junior year, I started drinking alcohol. I traveled with friends and even flew to several countries alone, sharing rooms in hostels with strangers and wandering through cities by myself at night time, even though I knew my parents would disown me if they found out.

Looking back now, I can say that it was very reckless and foolish of me. I never strove to understand my dad’s point of view; I only cared about my own feelings. I refused to look at the consequences—like the possibility of getting kidnapped in international waters—and I reassured myself that I was young, and hence deserved to have fun.

When I got back from my term abroad, I avoided my dad. I was a changed person; after all, I drank alcohol now and partied with foreigners in France! I no longer wanted to be a slave to his rules.

The author and her dad at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York (Contributed by author)

All this changed, however, when I graduated from college and started commuting to work with my dad. His office was in Makati, mine in BGC. It made sense for us to ride to work together. We found ourselves in the car alone every morning and every night. I could no longer avoid him.

We started engaging in small talk. I chatted about my officemates, he shared stories about his youth and his job. Over time I started opening up to him, sharing things that were close to my heart: what my best friends were like, or what I felt about my bosses.

I began looking forward to our conversations in the car, to the point that whenever something funny or remarkable happened in my day, I would bookmark it in my head so I could tell him later on. I even enjoyed just being in his presence: when we were out of words to say, we sat in companionable silence, listening to the car radio music.

The more time we spent together, the more I realized that I was a lot like him. We were both headstrong and opinionated, but we always had good intentions.

The more I understood his point of view, the more I realized how wrong I had been to disobey him. I was a selfish child; he was just looking out for my well-being and making sure I didn’t go down the wrong path.

The more time we spent together, the more I realized that I was a lot like him

It soon dawned on me that my dad, whom I had disliked in my teen years, had become my best friend and my favorite person.

When my sister started working in BGC and we chose to live together in a condominium instead of riding to work with dad, I started missing my car rides with him. I’d call him after work to check on him or share stories from my day.

On weekends, I’d voluntarily stay at home because I knew he wanted me to be there—a far cry from the days when I’d try to escape the house just to be with friends.

As my dad gets on in years, I regret losing what could have been years of friendship with him to childishness and immaturity. I know that time together is precious, and I hate to think of the day that I might no longer have his shoulder to lean on.

I try to make up for it now by spending as much time with him as I can, and showering him with hugs and kisses. I try never to let a day go by without letting him know how much I love him. It won’t bring back all the time I’ve lost, but it’s a start.

The author and her family (Contributed by author)

About author


She started writing as a child, when she wrote short stories on pieces of bond paper stapled into booklets. She is now a feature and entertainment writer, with experience writing for publications such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer and South China Morning Post.

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