Francis Zamora: ‘Your presence is key’

Francis Zamora: ‘Your presence is key’

By Angela Casco

Before Francis Zamora became the new father figure of San Juan as its newly-elected mayor, he has been and will continue to be a devoted father.

“I enjoy every minute of it,” he shared in an interview with the Manila Bulletin when asked about his family, which lives in a household that’s “typical yet very festive kasi kahit magulo, naghahabulan. And each one has their own personalities, masaya sila tingnan.”

While he never imagined that he would have four kids, Zamora said he was sure about one thing: He wanted to be as hands on as when he served the city as a councilor for three years, a vice mayor for another six, and now, as the mayor.

Hands-on parenting

The 41-year-old public servant always knew that he was going to be a father. So when he became one to Amanda, 18; Rocco, 14; Nicolas, 8; and Noah, 5, he followed through with a parenting method he thought best— being hands-on.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in what they do, even if it’s as simple as going to Noah’s soccer practice or Rocco when he plays basketball,” he said. “I want to be part of and experience their growing up years kasi I want them to remember na in their lives and in their best moments, I was present.”

Zamora with his 14-year-old son Rocco.
Zamora joins son, Noah, 5, at his soccer practice.

Zamora added that he also never missed a Family Day celebration and even school programs involving his kids. “Pumupunta ako para manood kasi gusto kong makita silang lumalaki,” he said.

He also developed a habit of documenting his kids’ milestones, too, as he wants to keep the precious moments preserved. “You capture the moment with photos kasi, so kahit dumating ‘yung point na dad’s not here anymore, at least the memory will live forever,” he mused.

Zamora and his wife Keri with their third child Nicolas.

He also reiterated the importance of communication. Zamora said maintaining a tight-knit family meant creating an environment where his kids would be open to sharing their thoughts, worries, and experiences.

“It’s a matter of communicating din talaga, talking to them first as much as possible, kasi kids won’t ask and say anything until I do,” he explained. “I always wanted them to be comfortable with sharing things. Ayokong natatakot sila sa akin. Gusto ko na nagkukwento sila.

He said that enjoying similar interests in music and even in fashion choices such as sneaker picks help boost this connection, as he and wife Keri had kids earlier than most.

Rising up to challenges

But being a father is not always easy. Just like being a public servant, being a father can be just as challenging, especially due to the inevitable – kids growing up, wanting a little more independence and eventually, having a family of their own.

“When Amanda hit adolescence, there was a phase na medyo naging aloof siya. I guess it was part of pagdadalaga,” he recalled. “This made me realize na hindi na sila bata. They want some sort of independence na rin.”

Zamora is with his eldest daughter, Amanda, 18, in this photo from a vacation.

While he said he will always be concerned about his kids, he knew that his kids would eventually have to see the world for themselves, too. “Kailangan na rin nila matuto on their own. Hindi pwedeng forever na lang na sheltered sila, para maranasan din nila yung buhay,” he said. “It would also prepare them better.”

Meanwhile, for his youngest and most curious sons, Noah and Nicolas, Zamora said they tend to question a lot of things. “It’s a matter of being more understanding and patient in explaining them why things are the way they are.”

But perhaps the biggest challenge is his looming responsibilities as the new mayor. Zamora, however, says it will be all about time management, as well as finding balance in handling work and family for him. “If I have free time, I can probably go home first and join them for dinner,” he said. “I’ll continue to communicate with them din.”

Father’s guidance

Before becoming a father himself, Zamora was also his father’s son. This is why he looks to his own dad, former San Juan mayor Ronnie Zamora, for lessons to raise his children better.

“My dad taught me three things: Discipline, hard work, and being responsible,” he shared. “You have to know what’s right and wrong, work hard to get to where you want to be, and provide their needs.”

Zamora specifically put emphasis on hard work, as his own father has shown him throughout what he describes as an “illustrious political career.”

“Siya talagang pinakita niya na he did well in school and worked hard to get to where he was,” he said. “Tinuruan niya kami na paghirapan mo, kahit pa sabihing komportable ang buhay namin, gusto niyang maranasan ko na paghirapan yung isang bagay to get where you are.”

Zamora said guiding his kids, the way his dad did the same for him, was what made his fatherhood such a joy.

“What I enjoy the most is when I bond with them and help direct them to the right path to growth and success,” he said. “To know na napalaki mo sila ng maayos, ng tama, at nabigyan mo sila ng tamang upbringing to prepare them for life, that to me is what true fatherhood is.”