This morning, I had the opportunity to surprise my father by introducing his keynote at Read Lit District (3rd Philippine International Literary Festival) at Ayala Museum. The National Book Development Board asked me last week if I could do it, and told me not to tell him. I thought the surprise was blown when he saw me walk through the door, but he just thought I was there to watch his speech 😉
I only had five minutes to introduce him, so I decided to share how I related to him over the years. How I knew he was a writer, but didn’t understand he was famous until he wrote an angry article in the newspaper about me reading Sweet Valley High when I was in grade school. How I tried to distance myself from him so people wouldn’t treat me differently because I was his daughter. How I got a scholarship to De La Salle University on my own, even if I didn’t need one because he was a professor there. How I would ride home with him while he was the publisher of the De La Salle University Press or the Undersecretary of Education (though while he was the latter, we had a bodyguard in the passenger seat, which I thought was very cool).
And how it was only as I grew older that I understood the amount of influence my father had. I recounted my high school graduation, when my dad gave the parents’ address, and made me cry by apologizing for the world we graduates were about to enter. “We have made a mess of our world,” he said. And now I understand that everything he does (whether it was fighting for K to 12, or promoting Philippine literature around the world) was about fixing that mess, and making the world (and the Philippines in particular) a better place.
My introduction was over in five minutes, and I almost made my dad cry — mission accomplished!
I’ve never actually attended any of my dad’s conference lectures, and I saw him recover from an emotional father to a total pro in about 10 seconds. He blazed his way through two very amazing Powerpoint presentations (I got schooled on terrible Philippine English, and how amazing the K to 12 literature curriculum is). And of course, he ended right on time. I was really proud to be his daughter! Here are some of my favorite slides:
Thanks for being awesome, Dad! We can cry now.