FilAm mom’s birthday letter to her son in the Philippines: ‘Our distance I carry with a heavy heart’

The author, a registered nurse in NYC, and her son Pablo John Garcia IV, who is a branch manager of the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative

The author, a registered nurse in NYC, and her son Pablo John Garcia IV, who is a branch manager of the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative

By Laura Garcia, RN

My dearest son,

Images of you flashed through my mind as I reminisce the days and months I carried you. I could still remember your first kick inside my belly. I wasn’t even sure if it was a kick or a punch, it was that intense! I knew then you were going to be an enigma.

Much of that enigma came from a relationship fragmented by distance—a lot of distance and not always just because of geography. I was away for most of your growing years and growing pains, which to this day I carry with a heavy heart. But growing up, you showed integrity of character and resilience of spirit.

When you were with me, you mostly made me laugh, and, on some rare occasions, I also cried in silence. But I assure you, those occasions were really rare and far between. Among your most endearing qualities are your wit, charm and sense of humor, which I must admit, you got from your Dad.

Because today is your birthday, I thought I’d boost your ego a little bit by highlighting your appealing qualities such as your sense of adventure, your courageous nature, dynamic energy, quick wit, musical gifts and good looks. I’m not going to mention your quick-temper, impulsiveness and impatience. Oops! Did I just say that? Anyway, I love you just the way you are.

Love always,

My son, Pablo John Garcia IV was named after his grandfather Pablo Garcia I, and his uncle, Pablo John Garcia II. Pablo, the III, was already taken by my son’s cousin, hence he, my John John, became Pablo IV.

John John, as the family fondly calls him, loves music and his guitars. As a teenager, he and his friends formed a band and used to sing at various parties and special occasions. John must have acquired perhaps a total of 10 guitars to date. His love of music is now just a close second to his love of his family. He has two incredible boys and an adoring wife. He worked as a former Congressional Staff at the Philippine Congress and is currently a branch manager of the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative.

‘I thank my family for raising him so well.’

‘I thank my family for raising him so well.’

My young man is bright. He used to keep a journal; wrote poems and music; and to this day devours books. John John loves real, bound books and good stories, as opposed to eBooks. His is an artistic nature and, like many artists, he has that temperament – sensitive, sometimes quiet, a bit calculating, and quoting him, “a bad boy.” Which he really isn’t. He is also trusting, respectful, and quite charming. Truly, I say these things not only as a mother. John revealed his sensitive side when he wrote this goodbye note to his grandma on Facebook:


You have served The Lord well in this lifetime; now it is time for you to be with Him in the next. I never got to thank you for everything. For raising me, for caring for me ever since I can remember, and for being the mother who has always been there. And through the years you’ve managed to turn a bad little boy into a respectful, decent man that I am today. And for that I am truly grateful.

I love you. I love you. I love you, Lola Esperanza Garcia.

My heart bleeds.

John John chose to live most of his youth in the Philippines with his dad and his grandparents, eschewing the Filipino Yankee Exodus. I thank them for raising him so well. John finally came to live with me in the U.S. for a while, but his heart was always back there in the Philippines. Our lion’s share of communication was through long distance phone calls and sometimes through letters – before email and Facebook. I have a compilation of letters I wrote, some meant to be read, some meant to be kept a secret. The open letter above was something I had written a year earlier.

Laura Garcia is a registered nurse with more than 20 years’ experience primarily in Obstetrics and Pediatrics. Her career includes another 10 years as a nursing educator. She currently works as a clinician at NYU Langone Medical Center and a clinical educator at NYU College of Nursing. She has a nursing degree from Silliman University College of Nursing, and a second bachelor’s degree in Communications at Kean University graduating Summa Cum Laude. She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation required for her Doctor in Nursing Practice program.

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