MANILA – Most people come to see the background, the sights, the beaches, the sunsets.
But, my Dad’s cousin, Pablo Salangsang, is showing me the part I would like to see most — my own family’s past…
“When you’re dad was working and studying in Manila, they used to live here in Espana,” Salangsang said.
I discuss the name of my Dad, he’s the first Nelson Garcia. My Uncle Pabs is taking to me meet with his family that is first and I am nervous. These are siblings I did not know existed for a very long time.
As I walk in the door, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My half brother who is almost exactly one year older than me, Andy Garcia and I meet. He is coincidentally wearing a Bears shirt. I grew up in Chicago.
I meet my brother Francoise who identifies as a girl Kim, with a new name.
This is a huge moment for me, punctuated by an remarkable Filipino feast. In one instant, I have gained two individuals who are essentially closely as anybody can be.
Kim and Andy were born in Vietnam where my dad worked throughout the war.
“When I opened this album, very many photographs our dad,” Andy explained.
My dad shortly after came leaving his family behind and was forced to leave as the fighting drew near.
Andy, Kim, and their mother Mai moved into the Philippines and lived waiting for the day for our father.
“In fact, as a young boy, every time I see the plane passing through at our location, our apartment in Cubao, I would run to the window extremely fast and shout, ‘Papa Nel, Papa Nel’,” Andy explained.
Andy did not know about my sister and me till he was 8 years old when he saw his mom reading a letter.
“And she was reading it. She found out that my dad has another family,” Andy said, “She started crying and that is the time that I found out also. Ah, I said like that. So, that is what actually happened.”
With time, Kim and Andy found a father figure in a priest, Monsignor Nguyen Van Tai.
“You know this priest for me. He’s a saint reason he took care of a lot of kids just like us,” Andy said,
Their mother became a broadcaster in Manila for Radio Veritas.
“She’s been a radio announcer since 1980 until this afternoon,” Andy explained.
Kim doesn’t want to talk about our dad. Andy has long gotten over being angry. Our dad is a fantastic man who knows that he made mistakes .
“Even though, he did not ask our forgiveness, I forgive him,” Andy explained.
Andy has children of his own. What is important is that my daughter Myria includes a new uncle and aunt. I have two nieces that are new.
“All of us here are family cause we just need to accept the fact,” Andy explained.
I have more of my heritage than I have ever had before.
“I’m really glad that I meet you. When I was really young, I had been actually anticipating this day,” Andy explained.
© 2017 KUSA-TV