Jul 21, 2008


Dear Joe,

I have listened to your program whenever I can. I really like listening to the stories that people share. Also, I would like to congratulate you on the album that you released. The selections are really very nice.

For the past several months I have thought of writing you a letter but could not find the words to express what's inside me. First of all, allow me to introduce myself. I am 28 years of age, presently working in a hospital in Makati, the youngest of 2 children . I come from an upper middle-class family. My father is someone who believes in the old-fashioned ways of courtship. He is a very conservative man and tends to be close-minded when it comes to new ideas. He is the type of person who doesn't get mad very easily but when he does, he really gets mad. Basically, we have the same personality. My mother is also somewhat conservative but is open-minded. I have an adopted sister, aged 4. Our family is not that close to each. My relationship with my parents is one wherein I tell them only what they want to hear. I have lived my life doing everything they want.

My story began when I started working in the hospital I am presently in. A few weeks after I started, I met a Darwin. He really made me happy. Darwin 2 years younger than me and the eldest of 3 children. He comes from a middle-class family but unlike my mom and dad , his parents are very reasonable and open-minded. He worked in the same hospital but we had different professions. (I am a doctor and he is a nurse.) He was really someone very thoughtful and nice. He was a gentleman, too. We started going out and soon became good friends . After awhile we fell for each other. I had a boyfriend then but there was just something about him that told me he was the person I was looking for. So, I broke up with my boyfriend. Darwin and I had no formal courtship. We just felt right for each other.

Since he had no car, we use my car everytime we would go out. He would pay for the gas instead of us taking a taxi. There were also times I offered him to use my car. Whenever we had the same schedule, we

would go home together. He would drive the car up to our place and then he would commute going home. He did not want me driving alone at night, especially if I am very tired. He really looked out for me, Joe.

During this time, he was able to meet my parents. He would greet them everytime he came to the house. Little did I know something was about to happen. It was Christmas of 1998, I brought him along to our family reunion. We arrived together when I found my mom crying and my dad so mad. We had a discussion, my mom and I. She told me that they found out I was letting Darwin use my car without them knowing. That was when I learned that they did not approve of him. My dad accused him of being a guy who was out to fool me. He did not trust him. He said he did not have enough respect and delicadeza. He said he was just after the things I had, especially my car. It really hurt hearing those things. I tried to explain to them. I tried to defend Darwin. But still they would not listen.

My dad stopped talking to me saying he did not want anything to do with me as long as Darwin was around. My relationship with my mother also suffered. It came to a point where my dad asked me to choose between him and Darwin. I could not make a choice so I decided to just get out of the house. I stayed with friends for several weeks. Then my mother asked to talk to both of us because she found out we had plans of getting married civilly. She did not approve since she believed civil marriages were not "real" marriages. She wanted a Church wedding. We explained that we opted to have a civil wedding first then have a Church wedding once we had enough money. It was not a good reason for her. She did not want me to marry him. My dad agreed with her. So, she asked me to return home and to pretend that it’s over between Darwin and I just to let my dad's anger simmer down. We complied hoping things would change but to no avail.

I found it so hard to go home to our house as the days went by. Eventually, I went home less and less until finally ,we started living together with his family. This was not known to my parents. Later on my mom found out when a friend of hers, living in the same area told her that she often sees my car parked in my boyfriend's driveway. My mom confronted me, so I told her the truth. A truth we kept secret from my dad.

After awhile, there came a time I grew uncomfortable with us living together with his family without the blessing of marriage. So I asked him if we could find a place of our own, which we eventually did. We lived together for more than 6 months and I was relatively happy even though there were some rough times. We had to adjust to each other somehow.

My mom would plead with me to go home but I would not agree. She told me my dad was really getting very mad and was starting to make threats. She was afraid for herself and for me. She wanted me to go abroad and stay there. I did not want to. I was ready to give up everything I had, for a chance to live my life with the person I really loved. Still my mom pleaded, she said my sister was really getting affected to and that my parents' marriage was starting to break. Eventually, I went home for the sake of my mom and my sister.

I still am living at home with my parents but I find it very difficult to go home everyday. My father has not yet spoken to me since this has happened. I have tried everything to close the gap but he just won't budge. I have grown very depressed and frustrated with my life. I still see Darwin but we have decided to just be friends. I thought things would be different. In a way it is but not for me. My parents may be happy but I am not. I long for the happiness I once had.

You cannot imagine the hurt and pain I have in my heart. My mom and dad and brother have told me that if our family breaks up, I will be the one to blame. My mom blames me for putting my adopted sister through all of this. My brother has said that if anything happens to our parents, I will be to blame. Basically, I am the one they are blaming for everything that has happened.

Sometimes, I cry alone wishing I could just let go. Maybe things will be better for everyone if I just get out of the picture, since I'm the one they say is the problem. I have stopped hoping that I will someday find the happiness that I long for. I have stopped believing in dreams or wishes, since they never come true. I am trying to live each day as it comes. It isn't easy. I guess happiness isn't something meant for me. Only time will tell how much longer I can go on like this. My depression is really getting worse each day. How long will I go on giving in to my parents? Why can't they see what I see? Why can't they feel what I feel? I'm not a child but an adult. When do I start living my own life? Do I always have to accept everything they say even if it does not apply to the present times? Should I always be the one to understand them just because I'm the daughter and they are the parents? Shouldn't they try to understand me, too? Or am I wrong about everything?

Thanks for your time. All I really needed was someone who would listen. I guess you've done me a big favor. More power!

Sincerely yours



Joes Notes


Cherrie, I have been through the same boat as Darwin when I was still courting my wife. Somehow, I just could not find enough sensible reasons why parents need to meddle into the children’s personal affairs , control their lives and unfairly judge the people they choose to be with. But now that I am a father to four daughters and have grown to understand why.

Parents would only want the best for their children. That is one general fact that we cannot contest. It is true to a certain extent but when our parents go beyond the line of privacy and selfishly impose their rules, then their actions begin to contradict their verbalized intentions. Your are already twenty eight and your not getting younger. I believe that you have spent a great deal of that 28 years trying make your parents happy. You have become the professional that they wanted you to be and you have tried your best to be a good daughter to them even if it meant sacrifice and self-denial . Honestly, Cherrie, you have done enough. Your parents have fulfilled their obligation to bring you up and give you a good education. Beyond that is your life that you are supposed to live not under their control but only with their mature and loving guidance.

I know how difficult it is to choose. But you don’t have to. If your family breaks up then that is their choice, not your fault. Forcing you to make a choice between what will make you happy and what will make them happy is plain selfishness . We have to show our parents utmost respect but that has to be earned. It is something that cannot be demanded of us. It is something that they have to teach us by their own examples of respect and discerning restraint.

Cherrie, staying with Darwin outside marriage was never a good idea. You should know that by now. That was something that you should have never done . But it’s never too late to start over again and set straight the crooked path you blindly trekked. You have to start living your life now outside the place you used to call home . You have to build your own with someone you truly love.

Cherrie, go where your heart leads you and pray that it leads you to where God intends you to be. Find your happiness and be at peace with yourself. You parents may want someone else for you but marrying someone you don’t love will just make you feel sorry all your life . Money without love is how we spell misery. It is only with little money and a lot of love that we can truly be happy. Don’t stop wishing . Don’t stop dreaming. One day, Cherie ,in God’s own time, he will show you the way to your heart and there you’ll find true love, joy and happiness that will last you your lifetime.