Dad We Love: Gabe MercadoShares his busy but fulfilling life as a businessman, performer, solo parent and adoptive father to Beeto.
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Gabe as ‘Bubba’
When it comes to disciplining Beeto, Gabe says he has never resorted to spanking; rather, he uses the “bilangan” method which he finds very effective. Gabe also says that withholding privileges as a form of punishment works for them.
“I believe I’m quite firm with him and I’d like to believe that more than the average child, Beeto knows his limits, he knows what the ground rules are, and he pretty much follows them,” Gabe says. “I’d like to think I’m clear, I’m consistent, and I’m in-your-face if you do anything wrong.”
No matter how hectic his schedule may be at times, Gabe still makes it a point to check Beeto’s homework as much as possible, which he gamely accepts as part of his lifestyle as a solo parent. This is the reason why when Beeto entered grade school, Gabe made the conscious decision to be selective about the projects he accepts and structure them to avoid work hours that keep him away for long periods of time.
“Before I made that shift, when he was still in preschool, I could get away with it. Parang that time if there was any homework, it was more of ‘color this, color that’. Grade 1 is a totally different ball game,” he says with a laugh.
This is not to say that Gabe has become less busy; in fact, he has several things on his plate at the moment. Besides regularly performing with his group SPIT, he also does corporate training and has even set up a company called Ripple 100. “We use storytelling, whether through video or photographic essays, etc. and we build communities using it,” Gabe explains.
On a typical week, Gabe has two days for training, two days for Ripple 100 and another two days for SPIT, which has weekly evening shows. Gabe is thankful because “the great thing is that the sched is flexible. It allows me to pick up my son from school on some days.”
About his son, he has this to say: “Beeto is actually very thoughtful and sweet. He’s very kind. Quite a bit of a joker. Basically he got a lot from me but I don’t know where he got the kindness from,” Gabe adds with a chuckle. “Temper and tampo, we’re sort of alike. Medyo he’s the type na mahirap galitin but once he gets mad, it takes a while for him to cool down. Very curious, friendly without being cloying or annoying.”
Beeto has also gotten accustomed to the various roles his performer of a father takes on, but there was one role Gabe remembers Beeto reacted rather violently to. “One of the challenges for us [was that] earlier this year, I came out in Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, and that required me to be in drag and all of that. He was quite angry when he saw me. It turns out, it was “because my bubba was wearing pink. I don’t like pink.’ When Gabe changed costumes for the next performance, Beeto said, ‘Oh, but now it’s better because purple is my favorite color.’
Gabe’s advice to solo parents
While it may seem like everything is falling into place for Gabe when it comes to the different roles he has in life, he will admit that being a solo parent was rather frightening in the beginning.
“At first parang nakakaiyak, nakakatakot, but it’s also very empowering. You don’t have to hide behind anyone else. Walang turuan. ” Gabe confesses. “Now that I have had years of doing it, [there are] changes it created in me: I consider myself now more patient, more nurturing, more strict, napu-push talaga both the masculine and feminine traits. You’ve got to be very caring and you have to be a good provider as well and a good friend. I’m at that point where I can say that single parenting is the best thing that’s happened to me.”
Gabe has this advice to share to other solo / adoptive parents. “Face it head on. Once you explain something properly, then it should be easier. Tell the complete story. Don’t hide details. Less complications.”
On the benefits of single parenting, he says that the payback is really tremendous. “You’re forced to evolve, you really grow as a person ... and it makes you a better person. But don’t go to the opposite extreme naman na lahat na lang ikaw na - learn to let others in. And be proud that you’re a single parent - don’t be ashamed … because you’re a family, you’re complete, no matter what your situation.
If you want to learn more about the process of adoption, click here.
Photography by Pia PunoRelated: First Filipino-written eBooks on Adoption Launched
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