Notes & Essays

Kuya Kim Atienza Shares a Letter Written by His Son, Jose, on His Graduation Day

May our children write us such letters someday.

This year’s Class of 2020 won’t be marching down the aisle to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance." Nor will be they throwing their graduation caps in the air and hugging their classmates one last time before they head off in different directions. 

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Like many parents peppering their social media feeds with tributes to their children, television host Kim Atienza wrote about his 18-year-old son, Jose, graduating from high school at International School Manila today.

“I am so proud of you. Fly as high as you can and if by chance to fall, papa and mama will always be here to catch you. I love you, dearest @jhatienza. You are a blessing to us and to all who come your way.”

Instead of the usual graduation photo though, Kim’s post came with a photo of a note Jose had written to his father.


“I’ve also seen you go through adversity and then some," wrote Jose. "You’ve managed to overcome every obstacle life has thrown at you and grow as a result, be it physically or spiritually."

Kim survived a stroke in 2010. In 2013, he was diagnosed with Guillain Barré syndrome, a rare disease that attacks the nervous system. After his recovery, he ran full Ironman races. 

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Here’s the full text of Jose's letter to his father:


Today is my graduation day. Although the day is going to be nowhere near what I expected it to be, it’s gotten me to reflect on who has gotten me to this point.

From my childhood to my middle school days and up to this day, you’ve shown me how far genuine compassion for others can take an individual.

Just as Mark 12:31 writes, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you’ve ingrained in me a want to help those not as fortunate. To show compassion for others is to show respect for yourself, and it’s because of you that I live by that statement. I’m grateful for that.


I’ve also seen you go through adversity and then some. You’re the embodiment of what a little perseverance can do for an individual. You’ve managed to overcome every obstacle life has thrown at you and grow as a result, be it physically or spiritually. You continue to inspire those around you with your faith, and lead others to show the same compassion and determination in the pursuit of happiness you’ve shown me every day.

I don’t show it often, but I’m thankful to have a father who gives the amount of love you do. As I transition from my teenage years into adulthood and eventually start a family of my own, I aspire to show the same compassion and care you’ve shown me the last 18 years.

Thank you, and I love you.


Your son,

Jose A.




Hours later, Kim followed up his post with photos of Jose's virtual graduation.

"After 20 years, @jhatienza you shall tell your kids about this day you graduated from HS amidst a pandemic. We embrace change with courage, kindness and curiosity! We are all proud of you and love you so much jose," wrote Kim.


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Esquire Philippines
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About The Author
Yvette Fernandez
Yvette Fernandez is the editor in chief of Esquire Philippines.
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