In the new book, Letters to My Children, 35 parents, from showbiz actors to athletes to politicians, write to their kids to impart wisdom, affirm their love, and share words of encouragement on how to embrace the future. It is probably one of the few times you'll see these public figures at their most joyful, hopeful, and, yes, vulnerable.
This letter, published here in full, is by Sen. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, addressed to her children, Kiko, Issa, Ianna, and Sinta.
Dear girls and Kiko,
I really enjoy it when we’re all at home together. The house feels and even sounds so peaceful. It’s been said that communication is the key to a peaceful home, and because we’re always talking, we can sit together while still doing our own thing.
Kiko, I’m so grateful when you drive me places. I take every opportunity to ride with you when you’re driving for your sisters because I love hearing how you and Maris are and how your work is coming along. I also love asking for your advice about your sisters. Issa, we have the sweetest and most generous conversations, and even when we fight, I can fall back on the conversations, and they always come again! Ianna, the lovely and powerful poems you text me out of the blue on some mornings just make my day. I stay up late on the rare occasion you want to talk a blue streak because I am learning to respect your space and silence. Sinta (poor girl, you still sleep in my room, so you have no choice but to talk to Mama!), you know you’ll always have my ear and it cracks me up when, if I go into hugot mode, you say, “Okay, Mama, I don’t want to hear this!”
Creating harmony through honest conversations might sound like a contradiction in terms because sometimes we have to talk about inconvenient truths that could generate conflict. Sometimes, we argue to establish superiority, not to cultivate harmony. But I guess we’re learning as a family that the way to peace is through truth. So we talk about taking care of Lola, new love, failure, fears, relationship issues, health choices, happy crushes, organizational responsibilities, special friends, and whether or not to file a complaint about bullying in school. Sitting around our harmonious table right now, I realize that our honest conversations have also given us this shared silence that feels just like home.
Remember what I told you kids about how Jesus worked miracles? That’s because He was “buo ang loob.” When He said something, He made it so. Another important thing about this story is the power of words. They can create something, but they can also destroy. Having said that, always choose your words carefully. They can create a world, name creatures and persons, and affirm them as good. But they can also cause so much pain and sorrow. And these can’t be unsaid, only assuaged over time and through other words and silences. Some words or phrases should always be spoken not just because of good manners and right conduct, but because they are powerful keys to peace and harmony. Magandang umaga po! Please. Salamat! Walang anuman! I’m sorry. (And when we already mean it, I forgive you.)
I sit here at the table writing this while you all work silently on your own thing, till the next time one of you speaks up, weaving our bonds stronger between words and silences.
All my love, hugs, and kisses, Mama
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Published bySummit Books, Letters to My Children (P295) is available at your favorite book store.