MANILA – Senator Grace Poe has never been ashamed of being an adopted child of the late Action King Fernando Poe Jr.
Poe told television host Bianca Gonzales for her column on The Philippine Star that despite the fact that the actor and Susan Roces are not her biological parents, she values their love just the same.
She added that one of the reasons she allowed her life story be featured in the drama anthology "Maalala Mo Kaya" was to let the public know before the elections that she is an adopted child and that she has no intentions of hiding it from anyone.
"I wanted it already out, na hindi ko biological parents si FPJ and Susan Roces. This is the circumstance of my birth, para wala nang magsasabi ng 'Eh, ampon lang 'yan.' Sinabi ko naman, eh ano ngayon? Does it diminish everything my parents have done for me or how I value their love? I don’t think it should take away from that," Poe said in Gonzales's column on Sunday.
"In fact, it should be an advocacy also for other adopted children, that you can make something of your life. Because of the altruism of these two individuals, I was given this opportunity. And I would like to give back at least in giving honor to their name," she added.
Poe recalled being teased by her classmates in high school about her being adopted by two of the most popular celebrities in the country, but said she ended up friends with those classmates.
"Initially they teased me, but when they saw that I could take it, they became the best friends I have. I don't even count it as an imperfection, being adopted, it's just that it wasn’t accepted in our society at that time, there was such a stigma to it," she said.
Poe admitted that she is still curious to know who her real parents are, but said she still considers FPJ and Roces as her parents.
She added that it would be easy to check if someone would claim to be her biological parents, but so far, even during the campaign period last year, no one came out.
"I am curious to know, but I have to be honest. I consider my parents to be my parents," she said. "Now there's DNA, so anybody who makes those claims, it would be easy to check. During the campaign I didn't go on an active search. If there was anybody who was interested, I think they would have come out already."
Growing up, Poe admitted that being an outdoors person she identified more with her dad than with her mom, adding that she even idolized the barrio heroes FPJ played in his films.
"My games were more in the outdoors with my dad. We would go to Montalban, he would let me swim in the river, we’d go hiking in Bataan, we’d go to the sand dunes in Ilocos, and when we would play in the house it was more of chasing each other," she said.
"From my mom, what I remember, when she would apply makeup, I would just sit down and stare at her. She’s a gifted artist so even yung kilay niya, perfect. We would exchange stories. I realized, ‘Ah, I can never be like this person, I can never look like this person!’ Although I admired her, I became more a fan of my dad. He was the hero in the story, and I felt I wanted to save the barrio, too!" she shared.
Meanwhile, Poe is happy to know her half-siblings, actress Lovi Poe and Ronian Poe, especially after the death of his father.
"I am decades older than her (Lovi). We didn’t really grow up together and I didn't know her till my dad died. I find her so beautiful, so strong, and a good representation of her generation. She is the daughter of FPJ but she has her own personality and character," she said. "I was so touched during the campaign when my survey numbers were low, she was one of the first to say, 'I support my ate, I know that she can do it.'"
As for Ronian, she said while they have met, "I don't really get to talk to him. He's a gifted artist not just for tattoos. I like his design concepts, the way he presents FPJ, which is not dated. It’s FPJ as seen now."
On FPJ's loss to GMA in 2004
The first-time Senator also recalled the time when her dad lost to then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.
Poe believes that although her father was calm after the election loss, the veteran actor kept a lot of emotions bottled up inside, causing him so much stress.
"I remember when they proclaimed GMA, it was before dawn, people were asleep. They were all there happy in Congress and I remember hugging my dad and just telling him, 'Thank you for running, I know you are doing this for the future of our children.' I was crying, and he was the one trying to console me. And that's so typical of him, saying, 'Don't worry'. Maybe he kept a lot bottled up inside, and they say that’s what caused him so much stress. Deep in my heart I knew that there was more to be done," she said.
Poe added that while her mom was really sad with the loss, the actress had a secret sigh of relief since she didn't really like the idea of being first lady.
"My mom, of course she was sad for my dad, but it was more like, 'Life goes on.' It was a relief for her, she didn’t have to be first lady," she said laughing. "Actually she didn’t really like it. When my dad died, she would recount the time he decided to run. She was weeping when she said, 'I thought we could finally look to our retirement and enjoy each other's company more.' She felt it was time taken away from her. You know, to be able to support any great person — maybe I'm biased but I found my father great — usually the family would sacrifice time with that person. And I think my mom has been doing that for him so that he would shine."
"If there’s anything my parents were really good at, it was maintaining the normalcy at home."