Six sets of fathers and sons talk about the dynamics of their special relationships.

The Concepcions

Jose Concepcion Jr., Joey Concepcion, Christian Concepcion

Family first seems to be the motto of the Concepcions, from patriarch Jose Concepcion Jr. (Joecon) to his eldest son Joey and down to Joey’s son Christian. Joecon says, “I made sure that my kids were brought up properly and that they had focus, that they love their parents as well as their brothers and sisters.” Joey thinks that he is not as strict as his dad when it comes to raising children. He says, “My wife Marissa and I try to focus on what is very important, which is the family. Our children learn a lot in school but their values are formed at home. In a sense, you have to be the example of what you want them to be.” He differentiates between his relationship with his dad and with his own children. “Dad was more old school. Today, parents are like friends, but still keeping a distance for parental authority . You do things together as much as possible. You have to find common interests,” Joey says. The eldest child and only boy among Joey’s five kids, Christian admires his grandfather’s passion, the same passion he sees in his dad. He says, “One day I want to be as good as they are in whatever I do.”

The Romulos

Albert and sons Erwin and Roman Romulo

His dad taught him to read when he was four, not children’s books but history. “He made me memorise William Ernest Henley’s ‘Invictus’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven.’ Exposure to the classics had a big influence on me,” says Erwin Romulo. His brother, Representative Roman Romulo (Pasig, lone district) says, “My dad gave me a lot of leeway to be what I wanted to be, to find out what I was interested in. There was guidance but nothing was imposed.” Their father is esteemed statesman, diplomat, and politician Alberto Romulo. Among his sons’ accomplishments, Alberto is proud of Erwin for winning the prestigious literary award, Palanca. He was also very happy when Erwin became the editor-in-chief of Esquire Philippines. Of Roman, he says, “He practically won his seat in Congress on his own the first time he ran. He has also authored very important bills for young people, specifically in the area of education, such as the Iskolar ng Bayan Act.” Both sons wish only the best for their dad. Roman says, “I was still in college when he mentioned to us that he wants to do the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. I hope he will be able to do that.” Erwin muses, “I really believe the best is yet to come. There is much more he can do. His experience in government is invaluable especially at a time like now.”

The Barkers

Nigel and son Jack, photo taken in 2006

Photographer Nigel Barker found out he was to be a dad when he was on his way to Hong Kong for a big shoot. “Crissy, my wife, worked with me as the studio make-up artist and it was so exciting that we ended up telling our whole team right there and then even though the common practice was to wait three months!” He describes their son Jack as deep, loyal, and loving. For his fourth birthday, Nigel gave Jack a camera. “One afternoon he came into my office to excitedly report a discovery he made,” Nigel recalls. On his own initiative, Jack had placed a block of stone on the window sill and began taking photographs of it throughout the day. This he did because he noticed the different shadows that the sun’s movement cast on the block. “This gave way to a great conversation on the earth spinning around the sun and how and why that happens,” says Nigel. For the worldfamous photographer, the best thing about being a father is feeling the constant flow of love. He explains, “ When I met my wife I fell head over heels in love with her. I never thought it was possible to fall in love again, yet I did with each of my two children.”

The Yuchengcos

Daniel, Luis, Dad Tito, Kenji, and Andre

Having a house with four boys definitely takes up a lot of energy, like in the Yuchengco household. Alfonso “Tito” Yuchengco III credits his wife Marit for keeping up with their sons Kenji, Daniel, Andre, and Luis. “They’re all active. My wife has a lot more energy than me so she is able to keep up with them,” he says, describing each of the four. “Kenji is into martial arts, quite independent, hardworking, with a good sense of humour. He gets along well with any kind of person. Daniel likes playing basketball and computer games. He’s still a sweet boy, even at 14. Andre played for the Philippine team when it competed in the World Junior Golf Tournament in San Diego. He’s quite athletic. He also makes us laugh and for me, the most responsible. Luis plays golf too. He has already won tournaments. He also plays basketball and has garnered the MVP award in various tournaments. He is very sweet, very smart.” According to Yuchengco, he would like to think that he is like a friend to his sons, but he’s not sure if they view him more as a disciplinarian. “Actually, we wanted to have a girl but we decided to stop trying. We’re happy with four boys,” Tito says.

The Bradleys

David and sons Spencer, Carter, and Adam, photo taken in 1995

David Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media Company, readily admits that someone else deserves much of the credit for how his children have turned out. David says, “My wife, Katherine, took on most of the hard work of parenting. Katherine focused more on character building than on performance. Were we raising children who would be rescuers, who would step up in difficult times?” The couple have three sons. “Spencer, our eldest son, is dangerously smart. He has what our writers and editors call ‘associative intelligence.’ Carter is dangerous, full stop. He is very smart and overwhelmingly appealing. He models manhood in our family. Adam, our youngest, is a rock of strength, wholly his own man and unmoved by others’ opinions. He is shot through with character,” David describes. Asked what activities he likes doing with his sons, David candidly admits, “There’s so little to show for my fathering. But, there is this: we have created a 10,000 pound treehouse, 30 feet above the ground. It has all the grace of Soviet architecturea dank, dark Kremlin in the sky.”

The Villars

Manny and sons Mark and Paolo

For the past 30 years, businessman Manuel “Manny” Villar and his wife Cynthia, together with their children Paolo, Mark, and Camille, have been taking their annual two-week vacation in Los Angeles. “Since we are real-estate developers, we like to see new places and interesting developments abroad, like new malls, new shopping centres, new restaurants, and newly developed areas,” Manny says. Paolo, who studied at Wharton, has started his career in business (like his sister Camille). Mark, who finished his MBA at the University of Chicago, is pursuing a political career. Manny wishes that his children have a “simple, long, and happy life.” Both Mark and Paolo agree that their father, a former senator, leads by example. “My father is very understanding. I couldn’t think of a better person to serve as role model than my father. He has a great sense of humour,” says Mark. “My father is analytical. He can take in a situation and reduce it down to its basic issues,” Paolo says. “He is the strongest person I know. He is very optimistic, but he’s also realistic. When he goes through hard times, he just brushes it off. I think that’s his greatest strength. Every time you knock him down, he gets back up. He never stops.”

Words by Astra Alegre | Photography by Mau Mauricio and Ramon Mangila | Printed in Philippine Tatler June 2015 Issue, available in any leading newsstands and the city's best bookstores. Download it on your digital device via Zinio and Magzter.

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.