On dealing with adolescent fatherhood by JR Gallarza
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 17, 2016 08:14 PM
Now based in Canada, the former UP Maroons captain reveals the inspiring story of having a child in your teens and the heartache that went with it not seeing him everyday. (Photos taken from by JR Gallarza's Instagram account: @jr_gallarza)
Some of you may already know the story of JR Gallarza, the former captain of the UP Fighting Maroons who during his playing years was also a father to a baby boy. With flying colors, Gallarza graduated BE Education, Major in Teaching and Early Grades from the state university. He has since been back to his hometown in Ontario Canada, after studying here and playing in the UAAP for five years.
Becoming a father in his teens and sacrificing the sight of his son so he could pursue a basketball career here, Gallarza’s story has inspired many. It helped that he was proud and outspoken about it, taking to social media his child’s daily (mis)adventures either in photos or videos. (His friends and followers, of course, showed their support by pressing the like button!)
Now, his son is three years old, and Gallarza has never been more serious about fulfilling his daddy duties to make up for the time lost. What has he learned so far? In time for Father’s Day, here’s Gallarza’s heartfelt re-published letter to his boy!
“I met Reinen's mom when I was 19. The doctors told her she would never have children or that the possibility of her getting pregnant was very low. She and I never really used protection or took it seriously. And then, she got pregnant a year a bit later with Reinen. I'm actually the one that caught it first ‘cause I noticed she hadn't gotten her period for longer than a month. So, I made her take pregnancy tests. She must have taken around six to eight tests and they all came back positive, except for the two that we may have done incorrectly.
Of course, as a 19-year-old still in school, with no real financial stability in a ‘foreign country’ and away from your parents that would help out, this was some scary stuff. To be honest, I brought up every option regarding the news of the pregnancy. So, think about all the options. Yes, I thought of those (Reinen, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. Important thing is I love you with all my heart and you're alive and healthy today).
About two to three weeks after the news, after all the dust cleared and I came to terms that Reinen was on the way, I slowly began telling people. First, I started by telling my best friends and got their thoughts on the situation. Everyone was very supportive and happy. Next, I told my parents and that was very difficult. My mom was very happy and excited at first. But when she settled down, she realized how hard this was going to be for me. My dad was the one very upset, disappointed, and angry and every negative feeling you can possibly feel.
Dealing with all of it was a bit of a special case since I knew I had to finish school in the Philippines since I already started. For his first year and a half to two years or so, he stayed with his mom in New York. After that, we decided it would be best that he stayed in Canada with my parents. He's been living here in Canada with my parents since then and they have been doing a fantastic job raising my son. Now that I'm all done with UP and basketball, I have the blessing of being Reinen's father fulltime while I search for work and look for ways to get my feet planted into a career.
Life is tough, especially with the pressure of making something of myself so I can provide a comfortable lifestyle for my family, Reinen especially, and I. But I have faith and I'm staying positive that it will all turn out good for us.
What I learned from this is, as much of a blessing and joy Reinen is, do not do your future children a disservice by bringing them into a world you cannot provide for. But when you do, at the end of the day, a newborn child is a gift from God and just know that everything you do with your life, from the moment you hear about the conception to the day you, as a parent, die, everything you do molds your child's future. Be the change, be the example, be the parent you needed growing up. Your kid will forever look up to you to provide and to educate. Stay ambitious and motivated so you do not let them down.
Parenting is honestly one of the best feelings in the world. It is very taxing, but it is amazing. I love being a father to my son. He is everything and more a father could ask for.
Thank you for blessing my life, Reinen!
What a year it's been...from Reinen turning 3 and turning into a real human child, to playing my last basketball year as a student-athlete, to graduating, to...everything in between. I'm proud to say that I'm ending this year and starting the next with the person that pops up in 8/9 of these posts. 2015 was a year to close off the remaining pages of my Philippine chapter. 2016 is all about change and adjustment to figure out what's next. Thank you to everyone that was a part of our 2015 and will be a part of our 2016 - onwards. #NoLookingBack #HappyNewYear #ThankYou
This story was derived from a story published in Chalk magazine February-March 2016 issue, originally titled "#PreggoProblems" and authored by Mariel Abanes.