Howie Severino reflects on being a son & a father
The broadcast journalist with his late father, Rodolfo Severino, a former secretarygeneral of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations...
Howie Severino reflects on being a son & a father
KAPUSO DAY - Angel Javier Cruz (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — When one becomes a parent, one tends to look back on how his own parents took care of him — from the moment he became aware of himself and his surroundings up to the point when he has children of his own.

Like the rest of us who are parents, Howie Severino turns to these bonding moments with his late father when asked about how he is as a father himself. As we pay homage to the fathers and father-figures in our lives, the GMA News Pillar and I-Witness host reflects on being a son to the late Rodolfo Severino (he was a former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), as well as a father to his only child Alon, especially during the most challenging chapter in his life.

What kind of son is Howie? What were your fondest moments with your late father? How did he mold you to become Howie “the journalist” and Howie “the father”?

“I’m a loyal son, devoted to his memory. He was highly respected as a diplomat, and I’d like people to remember that even many years from now.

“My dad was a journalist as a young man, filled with a sense of adventure and desire to be of service through his talents.

“As I grew up interested in journalism myself, he encouraged me and coached me in my writing, firmly but constructively offering criticism when needed. He was very exacting and often reminded me to use language precisely and be a stickler for facts.

“My father was always a gentle father — he never raised his voice or struck his children. He could be stern in a quiet, soft-spoken way. He was always cool, regardless of what we as kids did.

“I admit I have not always been cool. But having him as a role model gives me the ability to temper my emotions.”

Tell us more about your relationship with your only child, Alon. What kind of father-son bond do you have? How similar or different is it from what you have with your own father?

And with his only child Alon.

“I have tried to be very involved in my child’s upbringing, doing many things that he liked to do. I encouraged physical play rather than computer play. I was there at every swimming lesson when he was a small child, at many rehearsals when he was a child actor, and at every performance. I skateboarded with him, despite the risks of injury to my aging self.

“We have biked, dived and kayaked together, and traveled to the outback in Australia together. He has assisted me in documentary shoots. Most recently, he expertly directed, shot and edited the commencement speech I had to record for a school. I felt that was a culmination of a childhood spent exposed to my work.

“I had some memorable experiences like this with my own father, but he was often busy at work and not always present, although I treasure the memories of the times that we did spend together.

“I wanted to be present often for my son. And now that Alon is almost 18, I have told him that I want to be one of his best friends as he grows up. As an adult, I felt like I was my father’s close friend. My dad’s been gone now for a little more than a year, and I think of him often. I was lucky to have had that part of my life when we were both friends as adults, and he was able to be a doting grandfather to my son.

“When my dad died last year, I told Alon that I was now technically an orphan, since my mom (and his lola) had passed away five years before. He replied right away, ‘But you’re a lucky orphan, because you had your parents for a long time.’ Indeed.”

How did everything you’ve been through change you?

“Surviving COVID-19 was a transformative experience in the sense that it clarified with laser sharpness that any day can be your last, so each day should be filled with love and kindness. It also helped me be more strategic in thinking about what I need to get done in whatever time I have left on earth.”

What are some of your most treasured moments as a dad so far, and why?

“Swimming together. He has always loved the water. When he was a toddler, we both swam with the whale sharks in Donsol. We did some rough traveling in the Australian outback, and he didn’t complain once.

“I felt most proud when he appeared as the lead actor in a full-length play staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines when he was just nine years old. It took a lot of work, memorization and commitment, and he felt he was doing it not just for himself but for the entire team working on the play. He was a real team player.”

We asked Howie, who also serves as GMA Network’s VP for Professional Development, what message he wants to say to Alon right now. Like a good son that he is to his late father, this is what he likes his own son to know: “The key to happiness is doing things for others.” Indeed, a father raises his child to be a good person to other people.

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