A Letter to My Son: Becoming a Man Among Women
You are the luckiest boy. Your mother popped you out into the world without anesthesia. She gave birth, and a few hours later she was walking around. Because I had to be away for work, your mother checked out of the hospital the next day all by herself with you in her arms. She's a tank. It will blow your mind how strong she is, and it gives you a glimpse of how powerful a woman can be.
Your mother is an unbelievably strong, incredibly smart, and wonderfully kind woman who is beautiful inside and out. Your two older sisters are growing up to be so much like her. Your hardworking yaya loves you, spoils you like a prince, and treats you as though you were her own child. You are the luckiest boy because you get to grow up around some truly amazing women.
As you grow into a man, there are many things I hope to guide you with as your father, but one that matters deeply to me is that you learn how to treat a woman. In your life, you will meet all kinds of women. Many of them will play an important role, and my hope is that you treat them as they should be treated.
The women who are your peers. Women are your equals in every way. In many cases, in fact, women will be superior. Your sisters, I’m sure, have proven to you that they can do almost everything you can do. Be challenged by these women and challenge them in turn, but do not be intimidated by them. Your classmates, your co-workers, your friends—women who will help you strive to become better. Appreciate them for what they can do, encourage them, support them, and never once think they can’t do something simply because they are women.
Do not ever feel threatened by a woman who is smarter than you, or who is more outspoken, or more sure of herself, or physically more capable. Rather, seek these women out and celebrate them because these are the women you need to surround yourself with in order to become a better man.
The women who will guide you. I learned to stand up for myself from your Lola Nanay, a fierce, principled woman who always fights for what she believes is right. Lola Luz, your Lola Nanay's mother, was my hero. She was a fiercely intelligent woman who instilled in me a love for books and adventure. She took me to seemingly ordinary destinations like Quiapo and transformed them into magical places. She taught me to see wonder in the most mundane things, like lizards on the ceiling or snails on a moss-covered wall. The women around you see things in a way that you haven't yet discovered. Let them show you.
Some of my finest teachers and bosses offered a view of the world shaped by their experiences as women. My hope for you is to encounter as many of these kinds of women as you go through life. Embrace them, listen to them, and absorb as much as you can, never dismissing anything they have to say simply because they are women. There are enough terrible men who do so. Try your best not to become one of them.
Women will teach you things that no man can ever teach you. Women will teach you about resilience, about gentleness, and about nurturing. They will teach you the immense strength and immeasurable love of a mother.
The women whom you must protect. If you work really hard at it, you will grow to be bigger and stronger than both your sisters and even your magnificently strong mother. One day, I’m certain, stronger than even myself. Use this strength to protect the women in your life because the world we live in isn’t fair. Even though women are our equals, most of the world does not treat them that way, and you must fight against that with every ounce of your being. Use not only your physical strength, but the strength of your mind, of your character, to battle this inequality.
There are many men who do not view women as equals, and even some who view them as objects. In your life you will meet men who see the conquest of women as a measure of their manhood. Don't fall into this trap. Shun the company of men who talk of women purely as notches on the barometer of their sexual appetites.
Use your strength to be their shield. My hope for you is that you grow to become a man who sees women as fellow human beings to cherish and protect, never as conquests or trophies to be won or discarded. This is of utmost importance. Always watch out for your sisters, let no harm ever come upon them.
The women who will confuse you. Women are confusing as hell. You can spend your whole life trying to figure them out, but you'll never be able to do it. We men have tried since the beginning of time, and we still haven't come up with a good answer. But that's part of what makes them so fascinating. A woman can change her mind or sometimes not make up her mind at all. Be witness to it. Support them when they decide, support them when they change their mind, and when the can’t decide, have a good answer ready. Usually it's a restaurant. Always have a good restaurant in mind.
The woman who will be your partner. Someday, you may find someone who is all those. Your mother is my peer, my guide, and the most precious being I strive to protect with all my strength. She confuses me to no end. Your mother is my best friend. If you find someone, a woman, who is all these to you, this is the person who will teach you about love. Give that person all the confidence and support she needs. Be her rock. Encourage her to be all that she can be. Set her free.
You are the luckiest boy because you have a mother who has taught me more about my capacity to love than I ever thought possible. It is my hope that in raising you, you see how your mother and I love each other and come to understand how a woman can make you into a better man.
You are the luckiest boy because you’re growing up around women whom you must value. Women whom you must cherish and protect. It is my hope that you learn to treat all women the same way, to grow up as a man who champions women. It is only then, when you have learned how to truly value a woman, that I feel you will begin to truly become a man.