By Jaimie Rose R. Aberia
Dating a girl was something that Eduardo Manalang only wanted to try after a few heartbreaks with boys. Little did he know that the decision would indeed change his life.
Eduardo, fondly called Edna by his friends, is now 52, and has been openly gay. He grows his hair long, paints his nails, and wears women’s clothes— while fulfilling his tasks as a husband and a father of three teenagers.
Edna looks back with fondness at his love story with Luzviminda, now 49, the mother of his children. He says with a smile that it was nothing close to a movie love story. There were no butterflies or sparks when they met. He was a man and Luzviminda was a girl. But there was a moment when they felt infatuated with each other.
“Walang kilig factor (There are no butterflies in the stomach),” he said, “Pero tinatanong niya ako minsan kung gusto kong magkaanak. Parang nagpaparamdam siya (But she asked me once if I wanted to have children, like she’s giving hints).”
The next thing they knew, he was already an expectant father.
“Walang ligawan na nangyari, nagkaroon lang ng ganoon… hanggang sa lumaki na ang tiyan niya at nanganak na. Mula noon, inseparable na kami…hindi na kami nag-iwanan (There were no courtships, it just happened. She became pregnant and gave birth to our first child. Starting then, we have been inseparable),” he said.
Embracing the responsibility
Edna, who felt he was gay when he was just five, said that people’s judgment made him doubt if he was fit to become a father.
“Bata pa ako, elementary pa ako, nagkaka-crush ako sa boys, naglalaro ako ng manika, sinusuot ko yung bestida ng kalaro ko, kaya alam ko at ng lahat ang kasarian ko (I was young, during my elementary days, when I started being attracted to boys. I play doll and wear my playmate’s dress. That’s how I knew of my gender),” he said.
“Nalito rin ako kung uurong ba ako o hindi…Mayroong takot at duda, hanggang sa isip ko lang, dahil buhay ang dumating at hindi naman basta bagay lang (I also got confused. I had doubts, until I realized that life, not a thing, was given to me).”
Yes, he had a child, but he continued to be dogged by doubting Thomases in his life – people who would say that the first child was an “accident.” Then, Luzviminda carried their second and third children.
Finally, to settle all doubts, Edna and Luzviminda got married in 2007.
What you see is what you get
Growing up, his children – now aged 19, 17, and 15 – did not really demand for an explanation but graciously came to understand.
“Nandiyan yung may nam-bubully sa kanila, sabi-sabi: ‘Bakit ang tatay niyo, mahaba ang buhok?’ Sabi nila: ‘Oo, kaya sabihin mo sa Papa ninyo,, pahaba rin sila ng buhok!
(They were bullied. People were asking them, ‘Why is your father long-haired?’ But my children answer them ‘Go tell your fathers to not cut their hairs, too!’),” he recounted.
Edna said that it was his decision, and Luzviminda agreed, not to pretend to be a man to please his children but to have them accept him for who he is.
“Lumaki sila na Papa na ang tawag sa akin kahit ganito ang image ko. Nasa kanila na kung tatanggapin nila, basta pinakita ko kung ano ako (They grew up calling me ‘Papa.’ It will be their choice to accept me or not, but as for me, I show them what I am)” he said. “Ang mahalaga ipinapakita ko ang pagmamahal ko (What’s important is that I show my love to them).”
The Manalangs live happy and undisturbed in their home in Pasay, where Edna, head of the family, had put up a hair salon/parlor business. The husband and wife work hand in hand – the former fulfilling customers’ requests and the latter working on the side, assisting Edna.
Superman,Wonderwoman in one
Edna said that becoming a parent made him realize the value of true love.
“Ang isang magulang pala ay hindi madali. Pero kahit hindi ko napaghandaan ang responsibilidad, hindi man perpekto, nagawa ko pa rin dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa kanila (Being a parent is not easy. But even if I was not prepared for the responsibility, that I am not perfect, I was able to do this because I love them) ,” he said.
Asked what he thinks could be his difference from other dads, he jokingly said, “Sila, hanggang Superman lang, ako kaya ring maging Wonderwoman! (Other fathers can only be ‘Superman’, but I can be ‘Wonderwoman,’ too!)”
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