Ricardo “Jojo” Salomon Jr. was sitting within the viewers as his daughter Rica was competing in a magnificence pageant. Holding the mic, Rica, a proud trans girl, thanked her dad for being there to assist her.
“Everyone turned to look at me na parang, ‘Sino ’tong tatay na ’to?’” Jojo instructed Lifestyle. “But I’m always there to support my kids in all their activities, whether it’s volleyball or pageants.”
Jojo, a lawyer, entrepreneur and dad of three, recalled how he was once at residence on a regular basis for his youngsters, since his legislation workplace was in the identical constructing the place they lived. “When they came home from school, I’d be there, I’d help with their assignments, I’d go to the PTA meetings.”
Then got here an unforgettable parent-teacher convention when Rica was a highschool freshman in Ateneo, the identical faculty Jojo attended from prep to legislation faculty.
“I was shocked when the teacher told me that Rica was failing almost all her subjects. The teacher said hindi siya nagpapa-participate in class. She’d always be staring at the floor or looking outside the classroom.”
Even earlier than that dialog with the instructor, Jojo began to see adjustments in Rica. “Alam naman natin ’pag teenager, nagbabago ’yung temperament ng kids. I was noticing that Rica wasn’t as jolly as she used to be.”
Jojo checked in with their loyal household driver. “Sabi niya ’pag nasa kotse, masaya, makulit, jolly, ’yung usual self niya. Pero pagdating na sa bahay, nag-iiba ’yung personality.”
He figured it was time for a critical dialog. He wished to know what the issue was. Was Rica being bullied? Was it their household points? Or was she not feeling accepted at residence? “Ayoko na nahihirapan siya,” Jojo stated.
He sat down with Rica and he instructed her, “Tandaan mo, ano mang mangyari, hindi magbabago na mahal na mahal kita, mahal na mahal ka ng mommy mo.”
Then, Jojo introduced up a topic they’d by no means mentioned earlier than—Rica’s sexuality. “Anak kita eh, kilala kita. Mula baby ka pa, kilala na kita, sabi ko. I accept whatever you are, whoever you are. Lahat naman kami tanggap ka namin kahit ano ka pa.”
Trips to the mall
Jojo recollects journeys to the shops with Rica as a child. “Siyempre ’pag nasa mall isang destination lagi Toy Kingdom. Papabayaan ko siya maglakad-lakad … parati ko nakikita na lagi siyang napupunta sa pambabaeng toys. Maliit pa ’yan, gusto niya parati pink. So kahit papaano alam ko na. Minsan makikita ko siya ’pag may hawak siyang toy na pambabae, ’pag namalayan niya na nandun ako sa malapit, at that age, conscious na siya, bibitawan niya.”
They would normally find yourself shopping for what Jojo calls “neutral toys”—one thing that each women and boys may play with. “Kahit nung time na ’yun, parang nadudurog na ’yung puso ko na hindi ko mabigay ’yung gusto niya.”
Things modified when Rica’s sister Jannina was born. “Nung nakakapag-Toy Kingdom na rin si Jannina, bitbit na niya si Jannina, siya namimili ng toys ni Jannina. And ’pag nagbabayad na ako, kahit papaano nabawasan yung sakit sa dibdib ko kasi alam ko pagdating sa bahay, malalaro na rin niya ’yun.”
After that critical dialog with Rica, Jojo talked to his different youngsters. “I told them, let’s accept her, let’s love her. Kung hindi man siya tanggap sa school, kung binu-bully siya, dapat safe haven niya pag-uwi, pag-uwi nya dapat wala siyang kailangan itago.”
The compassionate dad talked to different family, as properly. “I said, let’s not try to correct her. Hindi ’yan sakit. Let’s love her and accept her. Do not attempt to correct kasi baka lumayo lang ang loob sa inyo.”
And, in fact, he talked to Rica’s lecturers. Rica didn’t comprehend it then, however her dad would go to Ateneo weekly throughout faculty hours, speaking to lecturers and monitoring her progress.
“I saw the improvement,” Jojo stated. “And by the time she finished her freshman year, she was top of the class in Math.”
While Rica was getting lots of love at residence, in class, there have been bullies (not simply college students, however lecturers, too). Jojo, the protecting father, did what he may to defend his youngster.
“May instances na sumusugod ako sa Ateneo. There was one time na tinabig ng classmate niya yung lunch niya so natapon. Bumili siya ulit ng lunch tapos tinabig ulit. Wala na siyang money after that. I went to Ateneo to talk to the teacher.”
It’s one of many challenges of being the dad or mum of an LGBT youngster, he stated. “I think ’yung challenge is how I can always be protective because I know not all sectors of society accept them. Mahirap sa akin ’yun whenever I observe discrimination against her … Kung nasasaktan siya, mas nasasaktan siguro ako … Kasi siya siguro sa buhay niya, natutunan na niya how to handle it. Hindi ko gustong nakikita ’yung ganun … Pero wala namang mahirap kasi mahal ko siya kaya alam ko kakayanin ko lahat.”
Rica, a make-up artist, founding father of Tayo Movement and a content material creator, fights transphobia and ignorance with wit and humor, as will be seen in her TikTok movies (@rica.salomon). She makes use of her voice to battle for trans rights, one thing she did even again in school, when she campaigned for Ateneo to permit transgender college students to seem within the yearbook because the gender they determine with. This was a battle she gained not only for herself, however for different transgender college students.
Jojo isn’t shocked that Rica has turn into an energetic voice for the trans neighborhood. “Even before, I could see that she’s not meant to be just a follower, but a leader. Kaya niya talaga ’yang mga ganyang bagay. Hindi siya mabe-bend pagdating diyan. I like that she fights for what she believes in.”
Rica believes that her father’s love performed an enormous position in shaping the particular person she has turn into. She calls him her assist system, her rock, her hero.
She wrote in a message to him, “You always made sure that I had what I needed and more to fulfill my dreams. You were never afraid to show me that you were proud of me … I know that I am who I am today because of that love.”
Over the years, Jojo has proven Rica his love and assist in numerous methods, each tangible and never. She had a debut get together when she turned 21, full with 21 roses and a dance together with her father.
“Even when my kids were young, I would personally take care of their birthday parties. I didn’t buy their invitation cards, I’d make them, I’d do the layout. Kaya ’yung debut na ’yun hindi na nakakagulat na gagawin ko ’yun kasi alam ko gusto niya.”
Jojo shared, “I think one thing that I did that mattered to her a lot was, I was able to get an ID for her that read Rica Salomon. Sobrang naging meaningful ’yun kasi there are times when we’d go somewhere and hihingan siya ng ID tapos mina-ma’am siya ng kausap niya tapos pagbigay niya ng ID, Ricardo … Naiisip ko ’yung nagiging feeling niya.”
Rica’s dad nonetheless calls her Joshua, although—her nickname as a toddler. “Joshua pa din tawag ko sa kanya except when I’m talking to people who know her more as Rica. Kinausap niya ako about that. Sinabi niya, ‘Dad, I will always be Joshua to you … You don’t have to call me Rica.’”
And generally, he nonetheless struggles together with her pronouns. “I still get confused sa he and she. Nako-confuse pa ako pero most of the time nagagawa ko nang she.”
Jojo says that Rica is the glue that holds their household collectively. “Siya ’yung nasa gitna, trying to make everything work.”
Although he’s busy along with his companies, Jojo loves spending time along with his youngsters. They’re very affectionate with each other.
Hugs are considerable of their residence. “Workaholic ako talaga pero I’m doing all of this for my youngsters … I be sure that na ’yung vital instances of their lives na kailangan nandun ako, nandun ako. I’m a really loving father.
I all the time put my youngsters first earlier than me, earlier than my wants. I attempt to perceive every of them and be affected person with them.”
He particularly enjoys their lengthy conversations at residence after Sunday dinner. “One time, I requested Rica and her sister, ‘What’s one factor in you na ipagmamalaki niyo sa akin?’ Rica stated, hindi siya nagsisinungaling.
Nag-sink in sa akin ’yun. Na-realize ko na tama ’yung acceptance na ginawa namin as a result of hindi niya kailangan magsinungaling. Otherwise, magsisinungaling siya sa lahat ng ginagawa niya.”
Rica communicates so brazenly together with her dad that she even confides in him about her relationships. And sure, he nurses her via heartaches. “Every time she has a breakup, hindi siya sa mom niya umiiyak, sa akin, eh.”
But Rica isn’t heartbroken now—she’s completely satisfied and in a relationship with a man her dad approves of.
Jojo is aware of that the father-and-daughter relationship he has with Rica isn’t one thing lots of trans youngsters get pleasure from. And he has a message for folks of LGBTQIA youngsters.
“Mas mahirap hindi magmahal ng anak. Itong buhay na ’to, minsan lang, eh. Love your kids regardless, kung ano man ’yung anak mo. If you’re struggling because LGBT ’yung anak mo, baka dapat maisip mo na mas malaki ’yung struggle ng anak mo sa pagiging LGBT niya. Ikaw ang No. 1 na dapat maging supportive … Until the family really accepts the kid, maghahanap at maghahanap ’yan ng ibang magmamahal sa kanya.” INQ