Gary as daddy

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - September 15, 2005 - 12:00am
Can’t have enough of Gary Valenciano? Only two weeks ago, he wowed a big crowd at the Araneta Coliseum during his Symphony of the Heart concert (with the Philharmonic Orchestra; glowing review published yesterday in The STAR). Tomorrow (Sept. 16), he’ll be at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu for a concert called Soulfull (which is also the title of his new album from Universal Records, which has also just released the DVD Gary Valenciano The Music Collection).

"I’ve had a Christmas concert and a pop concert in Cebu but I’ve never had this kind of concert there," said Gary. "Soulfull is my first ever inspirational concert in Cebu so I’m quite excited about it."

We’ve read and heard more than enough of Gary V. as an artist – and as a "model" diabetic who refuses to let his ailment get in the way of his back-breaking activities, even if his blood sugar level sometimes drops to an alarming 25 – so what else is there to talk about Mr. Pure Energy?

Yes, as a father, the side of Gary that has been conveniently overlooked by the media. Gary and wife Angeli Pangilinan have three children: Paolo, 20, a Green Media senior at La Salle; Gabriel, 17, a Music Production student at St. Benilde; and Kiana, 12, a home-schooling secondary student at Learning Tree.

Three are enough?

"Yes," said Gary, "although Angeli and I regret not having one more."

None of their children is diabetic.

What kind of a father is he?

"Well, I’m a father who will give up a show if I have to, if my children need me."

Does he spare the rod and spoil the child?

"No, I don’t. I would use the rod on them all the time – when they were kids. But they’ve grown up. But because the rod has been used on them, they grew up understanding why some parents need to get angry and some parents need to scold and discipline the children. The rod was used on me by my own parents and I think it did me good."

But never, never did Gary (or Angeli) hit any of their children in vital parts of their bodies, only in the hand or the buttocks.

"I never used my hand," explained Gary.

Like most fathers, when he spanked the kids, he got hurt more than the children did and he would retreat to his room and shed a tear.

Busy with concerts here and abroad, and with TV and recording, does Gary ever have time with the children?

"We do spend time at home. We talk. If I’m in Makati and Paolo is out of school early, I pick him up and we have lunch together. With Gabriel, I spend time with him at home where we have a man-to-man talk. When they were kids, I would go to their room and read to them the word of God. Their lives revolve around Christ and music."

You wonder, does he sing them to sleep?

"Actually," said Gary, sounding a bit embarrassed, "no; but when they were very young, I would hum to make them sleep. Or, while playing the keyboards, I would make them stay near me and listen."

Now that the children are grown, Gary said he treats them accordingly – as adults.

Paolo and Gabriel are into the "having a girlfriend" stage, so Gary reminds them (not that he and Angeli have to) about the do’s and don’t’s.

"They’re open with me even about their love life. I guide them in every decision they make. I always tell them, ‘Stick to what is right.’ With every answer to their every question, there’s always a warning of doing good and doing bad."

How does he deal with the, knock on wood, possibility of Paolo or Gabriel committing an indiscretion – you know, getting a girl pregnant (the fear of every parent, I suppose)?

"I always warn them about it. I always use Kiana as example. I tell them, ‘Can you imagine your sister coming home one day and that happens? It’s gonna break your heart and ours, too.’ They say, ‘Yeah, Dad, we know.’ I tell them, ‘You play around with a girl’s emotion and you’ll be hurting a lot of people and ruining many people’s lives.’ They say, ‘Yeah, Dad, we understand’."

From his own father (Vic Valenciano), Gary said he learned what humility is all about. From his mom (Grimilda Santiago-Ortiz), Gary said he learned the ability to be a parent and be a lot of fun in the process. "My mom is such a character. I got it from her. When I’m with my kids, I clown around with them; we are just like a barkada."

Gary was 14 when his parents separated (and when he was diagnosed as a juvenile diabetic).

"It was at that time when I needed both of them very much. In a way, the experience helped me not to take the same path and to stick it out with my family regardless of what happens."

And what values does he instill in his children? Does he (or Angeli) pamper them with money, with material things?

"No. We are very, very cautious about money. A lot of people think Gary V. is a millionaire. They forget that I have a foundation and I maintain an office. I don’t want to be in debt, so I don’t over-charge and I don’t over-spend. Just the other night, Angeli and the children were talking about money. She spoke to them about spending money wisely and how families can break up because of money, not knowing how to spend wisely."

Does he play favorites?

"No, I don’t. It’s hard to play favorites when all three are so much different from each other. Gabriel is more of the showman. Paolo is the deeper one; it takes time for you to get into his heart. I like that because when he speaks, he does so with a lot of wisdom. Si Kiana, well, she’s malambing, she’s the hugging type."

Now, who of the three will inherit the Gary V. "throne"?

"None of them. ‘Yung mga ginagawa ko hindi napunta sa isa lang sa kanila. It’s divided among them. Paolo loves singing, he’s into alternative rock music. Gabriel is more of a dancer."

Asked how a song would sound if he were to write one for his children, Gary turned dreamy and "wrote" (part of) the lyrics right there and then: If I were asked to show the world the one thing that means the most to me, there would be no word to say because it’s not just one gift I’ve been given; I was given three that go beyond precious...

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

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