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  • "Safety Is Not The Absence Of Danger." Gary V Opens Up About Past And His Kids’ Depression

    'Safe' is definitely not the word that people would use to describe what Gary Valenciano went through from childhood until the present.
    by Iza Cuyos .
"Safety Is Not The Absence Of Danger." Gary V Opens Up About Past And His Kids’ Depression
PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM GARY VALENCIANO / YOUTUBE TONI TALKS
  • “Safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of the Almighty,” this quote, which resonated with the audiences and was repeated several times in the comments section, stuck in the minds of those who watched Gary Valenciano’s recent interview on Toni Gonzaga’s YouTube channel, Toni Talks.

    PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM / TONI GONZAGA

    'Safe' is definitely not the word that people would use to describe what Edgardo Jose Santiago Valenciano or Gary Valenciano went through from childhood until the present. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 14, went through a heart bypass and cancer in his 50s, and now deals with the pain of seeing his kids suffer depression.

    Gary's story, however, brings so much hope to those who are likewise feeling the uncertainties of life, especially now during the pandemic.

    An ‘unwed father’ at 19 years old

    “I was quite lost as a young boy rushing to be a young man,” Gary recounts about the time he learned that he will be a father to his first child, Paolo, with his then girlfriend Angeli.

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    “It was two weeks before my first major concert at the Araneta Coliseum,” shares Gary about that time when he had to meet with his management team to discuss plans on how  to deal with the 'tabloid blind item' around Angeli’s pregnancy.

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS

    “Doon ko na-experience my first major hypoglycemic episode… because of all the stress that I was getting from the media. And all the media wanted to do was to know the truth.”

    The news definitely alarmed his management team, and they came up with two ways to ‘preserve’ Gary’s career. The first plan was to send Angeli to Australia where her cousins were. The second was for both Gary and Angeli to move to the States where Gary’s family was, and return after the birth of the child.

    “But somehow, in me, there was no peace... that’s my child. Why am I going to hide?” Gary shares his thoughts on what Paolo would think about his decision, “Baka paglaki ng anak ko tanungin ako, ‘Dad, totoo ba na you wanted to hide me? Because it was a mistake, and you didn’t want to face it?”

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    Given this thought, Gary did settle with given options, and decided to confess the truth instead. “I think we should just tell the public the truth. Let’s use the first major concert as a gauge. Kung walang tao, then I get Angeli and go to the States and whatever. Tapos na. My career is done,” he recalls him saying to his management team.

    During his first concert in April 13, 1984, tickets were, however, sold out.

    Holding his panganay for the first time

    When Toni asked how it felt to hold his panganay for the first time, Gary paused, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “When I held him, I wanted to go to the media and say, ‘Alam ko, alam ko. I know my career may be over. Tapos na. Lahat ng mga sinabi n’yo maaring maging totoo. Pero, meron ba kayong ganito? This is my son, Paolo.”

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
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    After visiting his newborn, Gary went ahead to his concert and told the media, “I know you’ve read all the news, but today, my son was born. My son, Juan Paolo Martin, was born.”

    The proud father tried to explain the indescribable joy that fathers feel when holding their child for the first time. “It’s beyond proud. Proud is an understatement. It’s an overwhelming sense of joy. You have the worries of, ‘Naku, I hope I become a good father. Naku, sana he makes the right decisions in life later on.’ But all of that is put aside when you actually feel the warmth of your son, or your child, or your daughter in your arms. And he’s your firstborn.”

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS

    Starting a family at a young age

    He thought being a father would be the end of his career, but Gary did not expect that many would understand his situation of being a young dad who’s struggling to start a family. “There was a time we were just sleeping on mats on the floor. ‘Yung kurtina namin ay mga tabloid, mga old newspapers. That’s how we started.”

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    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
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    “That’s, what I think, what grounded me,” says Gary as he recalls his humble beginnings as a dad who came from a broken family. “That’s what made me realize, ‘Look, you’re blessed with a lovely wife, you have a beautiful son. That’s actually enough already. So, whatever else comes your way, just take it as part of the package.’”

    Going through a coronary heart bypass

    In April of 2018, when Gary was celebrating his showbiz anniversary in the TV show ASAP, he felt a tightening in his chest while in the middle of a dance performance.

    After going through a series of tests, Gary shared what his doctor told him: “You see that,” pointing to the blood vessel leading to the heart. “That’s 95% blocked. It’s very fortunate, Gary, that you did not rupture while you were performing.”

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS

    The doctor explained that he cannot do a stent procedure which only requires a small cut in the blood vessel. Gary needed to be opened up and undergo a bypass surgery. “With a bypass, they don’t cut you open. They kind of break you open, kasi puro buto eh,” he reveals. “Then they take the heart out… then they cut me here sa leg to get another artery para makagawa ng bypass.”

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    According to Mayo Clinic, a coronary bypass surgery requires taking a healthy blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest and connecting it below and above the blocked arteries in your heart. With a new pathway, blood flow to the heart muscle improves.

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
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    “I was in bed and I saw my kids, and they all hugged me one by one. At that point, there was no anger. ‘Okay Lord, You know what’s going on.’ There was peace,” Gary reveals.

    “I found myself in the palms of His hands and that for me is the safest place to be. Because safety is not in the absence of danger. It’s being in the presence of the hands of the Almighty.”

    Dealing with cancer a month after the bypass

    While recovering from the surgery, the doctor noticed via a CT scan that there’s something wrong with Gary’s kidney. Gary recalls how his doctor told him about his cancer, “I’m a cardiologist Gary, but there are too many diabetics that have come to me after a CT scan with their kidneys looking like yours. You have cancer in the kidney, Gary.”

    Gary still couldn’t describe his shock after hearing about this new disease just a month after his coronary bypass. It was when he was in the same operating room again that he found the same peace that carried him through the first operation.

    “I remember talking to Him and I’m saying, ‘Lord, I’m here again.’ And parang nabasa na Niya lahat ng nangyayari sa loob ko. And if I can put a picture to it, it’s like He sat on my bed, folded His hands and said, ‘Yeah. And I’m here again, too.’”

    When Toni asked Gary if he ever questioned God, Gary admitted that he did after the procedure. “It’s not ‘why’ dahil sa bypass and the kidney. But it was more, ‘Why do You work this way? Why must people go through this in order to learn who You are?”

    He said that sometimes God gives no answer. “It’s more just peace to know, ‘I know why and you don’t have to know why, Gary. Just trust in me.’”

    The last time this dad cried

    They say that a parent's most piercing pain is not when we are hurting, but when we see our kids hurting. Gary shared what it’s like to be helpless as a father.

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    “There was a time I was in this room, I looked at my life, and I looked at it from my own eyes like looking in the mirror and not liking what you see. That’s when I wept in this room.” Gary shares about the last time in 2019 when he was on his knees and unable to put his pain in words, that he just wept before God.

    He continued to talk about crying over his children’s fight against depression. “There were times when I also wept before the Lord when I would know that my Kiana… my children are open to talking about these things because they know it can help others. But Kiana suffers from depression, and Gab also does,” confesses Gary.

    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
    PHOTO SCREENSHOT FROM TONI TALKS
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    “Sometimes they don’t see it, but after they come here (in the house)… and we talked and all, then I come down here (in my music room) then I think of what they are going through. They live alone. So, I can only imagine what’s that’s like. That really brings me to tears.”

    He went on to say that the ‘enemy’ is alive and that the mind is his playground. “This (our head) is our battlefield.”

    Talking about gratitude

    Touted as the world's number one app for daily prayer and Bible-based audio content, Pray.com has chosen Gary to be its Philippine ambassador to launch the app in the country.

    Gary mentioned that he would be reading bible stories and praying to God every morning in the audio show called “Morning Gratitude”.

    And talking about gratitude, Gary reveals that he is most grateful for his life. “It’s one word, but in that word is everything that has made me who I am. It’s in that one word that I should no longer have: Life.”

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    PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM / GARY VALENCIANO

    “I am thankful for the life that I have today.” Gary shared that when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 14 years old, the doctor mentioned that patients like him only have an average life span of 30 years from the day of diagnosis. 

    “I am 57, and I am not ashamed to tell people how old I am because I’m not living on borrowed time. I am living on His time.”

    Watch his full interview here:

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