EARLY YEARS TO HUMBLING EXPERIENCE
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): What was your childhood like?
DANNY URQUICO (DU): I grew up under the care of my grandmother because my dad was in prison. Since there was no guidance from my father and my mom was also busy taking care of the needs of my dad, I was exposed to different vices from a young age… smoking at age 9, drinking at age 10 with my older cousins and some uncles. At 10 years old, my father was released from prison. My expectation was for my dad to spend time with us to make up for lost time but my expectation was totally different from our experience. We found out that my dad was verbally and physically abusive. There were times when he would literally beat me up from head to foot. I lost the motivation to go to school or excel. It affected me in so many ways academically, emotionally. I was not aware that I was developing hatred towards my dad. It led me all the more to doing so many more bad things. When I was 12, I started to smoke marijuana. It led to me taking cough syrup drugs, tablets. I was kicked out from different schools due to fist fights. I was in and out of jail. At 17, I was first implicated with murder, I was on the front page news for gang rape, jailed in san juan for carnapping and robbery.
BITS: How did you see your life at that time?
DU: Normally for a child, you have dreams and plans for the future. For me, it was no longer a goal for me because I knew that I was heading towards a chaotic, miserable life. I was living with so much hatred in my heart, especially when my dad left us when I was about 12 years old . That pain that he caused our family, especially my mom, all the more intensified that hatred. My motivation that time was to get even. I told this to my siblings that I really desired to kill my own father because of what he did to us. Bahala na lang yung life ko (Whatever happens to my life, let it be); no more value for life or family. Even when my girlfriend got pregnant when we were 18, it didn’t give me new hope because I was at a loss during that time. I didn’t know what to do. I was so confused.
BITS: Did you receive any form of spiritual guidance?
DU: I grew up in a community with my grandmother. Most of my relatives were attending the Jehovah’s Witness. I was a bad boy when I was a child. My relatives would tell me, “God will be angry with you.” Having the kind of abusive earthly father I had and hearing repeatedly that God will be angry with me, I had the impression that God is also always angry. I did the normal rituals. I attended the bible studies, Sunday service but it didn’t affect me spiritually.
BITS: You went to church but your heart was not changed?
DU: Yes, I didn’t consider having a relationship with God. I went to church because I was required by my elders… again, because “God will be angry with me.”
BITS: Did you see any kindness in your dad?
DU: My only recollection is he would give me food, carry me at times. That’s it.
BITS: How did what you saw in your dad affect you as a husband?
DU: When I was young, I had the idea that the modeling my father and his brothers showed us was The Normal— to have affairs or mistresses; if you’re angry, to be verbally or even physically abusive to your wife and children. It hurt me to see what he did. I told my then girlfriend that whatever we experienced from my dad, I will never do to her. But since that was the only modeling that I saw, somehow it really affected me in that area as a husband and father. I ended up doing the same things he did.
BITS: Do you think it’s unintentional but how children see a father conduct himself, they are prone to copying?
DU: Exactly. What made it worse was my mom’s brothers also modeled drinking and womanizing. I figured, it’s the path to take.
BITS: You mentioned in one of the testimonies you gave that your life was “palala nang palala” (kept getting progressively worse). Did anyone intervene?
DU: I was with my mistress I saw my dad with his mistress. He told me not to tell my mother. I told him not to tell my wife. We condoned each other. There was no advice that I was not supposed to do that. Even if he did advise me this way, he did not have credibility because he was engaged into those things.
BITS: If someone came and told you that these things were wrong, would you have listened to them?
DU: No, at that time, I would basically not listen at all.
BITS: Why do you think it wasn’t enough that your mother and grandmother were there for you to come out of a downward spiral mode?
DU: It’s the general design of God for a family that there should be a father who will constantly remind the children, especially the boys, on what to be and not to be. I totally agree my mom was always there for us but since there was a dysfunction imbalance, she could only do so much. There are things that only the father can do and remind the sons. There was something in me longing for a father figure but there was another part of me with so much anger that told me I don’t need a father. I was so confused.
BITS: If it’s the general design of God for a family to have a father fulfilling his rightful role, what about those families where the father abandons the family, or is there but behaves like the child who needs to be raised?
DU: For many years, I longed for a father who would spend time with me, bring me to school, give words of encouragement, carry me, take me places. The Lord taught me that I can no longer experience those but in the absence of an earthly father, there’s Himself, our Heavenly Father who is able to not only complete me but can do more than what an earthly father can do.
BITS: Our Senior Pastor says that having a poor model of an earthly father can sometimes hinder a person from seeing God the Father because he would think that God is like his earthly father. Do you have an encouragement for a person with a poor model of a father?
DU: That’s what I experienced having an abusive father. I was repeatedly told by relatives that since I was a bad boy, God was angry with me. My perception of this so-called “God” was wrathful. It’s different when you get to know who He is. He is just, but not wrathful. He will give us time to repent. When I attended this retreat, I heard the message about the Father’s love; it totally erased all of the negative impressions I had of God. I learned that God is compassionate, gracious, and forgiving.
BITS: Can you describe what you went through at the retreat?
DU: There’s a story in Luke 15 about The Lost Son together with The Lost Coin and The Lost Sheep. These three parables illustrate that there is a God who is a Father to us. Our wrong decisions sometimes draw us away from Him. It shows how compassionate and loving He is, that day and night He waits for His children… those who run away from Him, He will wait for us to return to Him.
BITS: How did that affect you?
DU: It gave me a passion to find out more who this God is. That’s why when I was being consistent with my church going, it helped me decide to go into further studies. I went to a seminary. That really confirmed to me that God is a God of grace, compassion, and love.
BITS: When you read about The Prodigal Son, did you see yourself in the story?
DU: I really saw myself as the prodigal son. I realized that it was not God who drove me away. But since He respects free will—our decision— and He knows that all of us at some point in our lives will make bad decisions that will make our lives miserable (the same situation that that prodigal had)… this prodigal basically came back to his senses and realized he had nowhere to go but back to his father. It was a wonderful story… like my life story.
BITS: The Prodigal Son had pig pods, the things he settled for apart from his father’s will. What were your pig pods?
DU: I lived on the streets for months. Most of the time, I would go home drunk, so high with drugs. These are the things that I settled for. These are the things that made me realize that “I am living a miserable life.” I realized I have a loving wife, children family, mother, siblings.
BITS: Do you think those miserable situations are necessary for a person to come to know The Lord?
DU: Yes I believe so. That’s what I call The Humbling Experience.
To Be Continued…
Part 1: Transformation of a Prodigal Intro
Part 3: The Prodigal Comes Home
Part 4: From Prodigal to Pastor