Even back when I was a kid, I already had a fondness for kids (younger kids, of course). While I liked hanging out with older people like my aunts and their friends, and I did have friends of the same age, I also enjoyed spending time with the younger kids in the neighborhood. I remember how I’d assemble a bunch of youngsters and play school with them (with me as the teacher, of course), or how I’d schedule story sessions, or even organize a Halloween party for them since Halloween didn’t really exist to them back then.

I guess it’s the big brother syndrome. I am a panganay, after all. Or maybe I was born a leader/teacher and was already showing signs of it early on.

But now that I look back, I think it’s also because I’m paternal/parental. Come to think of it, I did enjoy teaching them the rights and wrongs. I did like feeding them biscuits and juice (because chips and soda are not healthy stuff). And I did like giving orders too, of course.

When I grew older, after tutoring the neighborhood kids and “raising” my siblings, I just knew I wanted to be a parent, and that I’d be an awesome one.

During college, I sort of adopted a little boy, a Japinoy boy named Katsan. I was over at a neighbor’s house when Katsan, barely a year old then and clad only in diapers, entered the house—and my life, changing it forever.

Katsan has a twin named Matsan, and they have an older sister named Hitomi, who is a couple of years older. Their mother was in Japan. She was working there to make ends meet so she left her kids with her mother and some relatives in the Philippines. Since the kids’ grandmother was already old, it was their older (but still very young) cousins who would take care of them, which meant they were tagged along to patintero afternoons and chichirya mornings.

It was love at first sight with Katsan. When I first laid my eyes on him, I just knew he was special and that we shared at least one past life.

I unofficially became his dad.

For almost four years, we were a father-and-son tandem. I fed him. I gave him baths. I brushed his teeth. I visited him at the hospital when he was sick. I bought him toys. I taught him how to color. I brought him to his first movie. I took him out to the mall and bought him Happy Meals. I brought him to the zoo. I taught him new words. I disciplined him.

We were so close that I became close to his family. I was a regular at their house. I could take him home.

And then their mother went back, and said that she was taking the kids with her back to Japan.

And so I lost my son, who was never really mine in the first place.

I moved on and I was okay. After some years, he even visited a couple of times, and it was always a blast.

Katsan will always be somehow my firstborn. I even remember thinking one time that even if I had my own kids, they will never be as special as Katsan.

And now I have my own kid, a girl named Sadako, who is exactly six months old today. She means the world to me and while she will never be as special as Katsan, she is undoubtedly very special in her own way.

I’ve already been feeding her and giving her baths. Pretty soon, I shall be teaching her how to color, bringing her to the zoo, and teaching her new words, just like how I did it with Katsan. And even more, actually, since she doesn’t have a mother who’s going to take her away from me (hopefully!).

Katsan is visiting in a couple of weeks and I am very excited. I’ve started compiling photos, videos and other memorabilia to show him, to remind him of our past. More importantly I can’t wait to introduce Katsan to his little sister.