Attending the shoot of these four unique individuals at the Ever Bilena/Blackwater Office HQ in Caloocan is like entering a fun house—as no matter which way you turn, there’s something amusing and lighthearted going on.
The antics of PBA legend Benjie Paras and his son Andre (a draft pick of the Blackwater Bossing team) are straight out of Comedy Central, with the emphasis on mugging for the camera, and throwing out witty one-liners. In the case of Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy and his son Donway, there is admittedly something a little more subdued in the banter; but the little jibes and teasing that go on, that comes from the strong relationship and closeness between the two. It’s the father-son dynamic in full bloom from all sides, and we can only sit back and enjoy.
At some point in their respective lives, the marriages of both Dioceldo and Benjie broke down, so there’s that commonality of having to accept and absorb single parenting. No one is going to say that’s the ideal situation; but given the circumstances that came to be, it’s endearing to observe how the two rose to the challenge, and made the best of what Life threw their way—in their own ways. And that a very special bond exists between father and son (and the other children), without being clingy or overly sentimental, is very evident.
A video of the proceedings was uploaded on the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Facebook page yesterday, so watch that if you want to smile, laugh, and be touched by the paternal love that was going around during the shoot. Here are some of the highlights to look out for.
A grandfather in 2019 (via his daughter Denice and son-in-law Jacob), and a brand new father in 2020, Dioceldo is the real deal self-made entrepreneur. He left university after only two years, and started working, building up his Ever Bilena cosmetics giant from scratch. So when asked what was his proudest Donway moment so far, he got choked up and teary-eyed, saying it was attending Donway’s graduation from a Vancouver business college—having his son accomplish what he never had the chance to.
He was also filled with pride relaying how, when in Vancouver, Dioceldo had deposited a substantial amount of dollars in Donway’s account as a stand-by emergency fund. Rather than fritter away that amount, Donway conferred with his Dad, invested the money, and actually made it grow. For Dioceldo, it was a test of Donway’s maturity, and he had passed with flying colors.
In his closing spiel, his message to Andre, Benjie joked about his son that in the future, he should always bring his wallet. Benjie recounted how Andre loves to invite his Dad to eat out and say it’s Andre’s treat, only to ‘act’ surprised at the end of the meal and sheepishly confess he forgot his wallet. As Benjie exclaimed, “One, two, even three times, I’ll let that pass, but it happens too often, and you’re obvious!”
Benjie also laughed, griping about how he keeps losing slippers, as they wear the same size, and each time Andre heads out to practice, he’ll bring a pair of Benjie’s slippers, just to leave them at the gym. Benjie raised his eyebrows, and let drop that he’s lost at least twelve pairs in this manner.
On dating advice, Dioceldo confessed that Donway is a ‘good boy, not like me.’ Admitting that he wasn’t the best of husbands, Dioceldo recommended that Donway learn from his mistakes. To which Donway smiled, saying he could only wish he had his Dad’s charming ways with women—that his Dad also had the uncanny ability to attract beautiful women. And yes, Donway hopes he won’t act on it as often as his father has.
Benjie was Mr. Practical with dispensing dating advice, saying with a straight face that Andre should look for a woman who knows how to drive, and is happy to meet Andre after dinner for cheap, inexpensive dates.
One precious Benjie-Andre moment came when Andre was asked what his Father’s Day wish for his Dad would be, and in a deadpan manner, Andre said he wishes his Dad would grow hair. Benjie started shaking his head, saying that when he has a full head of hair, and with his height, he looks like Chewbacca.
Dioceldo has made traveling together a bonding time for the whole family, and the pandemic has put a crimp on that. He’s hoping it normalizes soon and dreams of bringing the family to Tasmania and New Zealand, as he’d like their next trip to be one about nature and the great outdoors.
While he was saying this, Donway was looking at his dad in disbelief, explaining that whenever they travel and they have to hike. After a few minutes, his dad is complaining about his knees or that he’s tired. Plus, he reminded his dad that when abroad, he’s always looking for a good Chinese restaurant.
Benjie’s words of wisdom as a father was to remind the fathers out there to always remember to listen to their children, to not force them into anything—that they’re not you, and have to find their own paths eventually. A father can guide and advise, but ultimately, it’s the child’s life.
Dioceldo agreed in principle, with the caveat that as the wiser and hopefully smarter one, it’s fine to influence but not control.
As the shoot ended, it was good to see the whole crew touched by these two sets of father and Son, that we were witness to closeness and love. Happy Father’s Day!