EXCLUSIVE: Billy Crawford On His First Father’s Day With Coleen Garcia And Amari
New father Billy talks about his journey to fatherhood, and coming full-circle with his newest endorsement shoot with his son Amari for Moose Gear
It’s the eve of Father’s Day, and Billy Crawford is still at work. He’s going back in time, some 30 years ago, as he reminisces about his early days with Moose Gear. He has finally come full circle—at that time, he was one of the faces of the clothing brand, and now, fast forward to 2021, the new dad has passed the baton to his 9-month-old son, Amari, who was just announced as the new face of the brand.
“I was one of the few, I wouldn’t call it endorser, but they didn’t do endorsers back in the day, in 1988, 1989,” Billy recalls the experience. “When I started to become part of the Moose Gear family, sir Robert Brown would let us kids experience going behind-the-scenes in the factories, showing us the printing, and so on,” he shares of the experience. He even vividly recalls doing guestings in the defunct TV show Batibot with the Moose Gear mascot.
Which was why even during and after the shoot of Moose Gear with Amari, he would find himself amazed at how they have come full circle.
“And just like this shoot with Amari, and it’s funny when I was looking at it, I said, gosh, this used to be me. I’m never this young. Amari is 9 months old and I was 6 or 7 years old at that time. But this kid right here is, for now, uto-uto.”
That lovable boy, with mischief in his eyes and a ready smile to whoever would look at him, was the boss that afternoon, shares Billy. As soon as the team had set up—from Gideon Hermosa to The Stork Studio, all eyes were on him. “When he was tired, he was hungry, the shoot would stop. We all prioritized Amari.”
“Amari is just a ray of sunshine. If you’re with him in a span of five minutes, he’s just going to smile and find something to just be aliw about.,” shares Billy. “Because he usually hates changing clothes—like diaper changing and clothes changing—he usually doesn’t like it because he’s so malikot. But this shoot was like, different sandos, T-shirts, and shoes, and socks, and it was overwhelming for him, I guess, but he was really busy that day. He loved it. He enjoyed it. He was playing around. He was tossing and turning and jumping up and down, until the end.”
He was the boss of that shoot, but the one making most of the decisions was Billy’s wife, actress Coleen Garcia.
“Coleen was super tutok. She is a hands-on mom. I bow to her, I salute her for her patience. Just her care as a mom,” says Billy, even mentioning how she mixed and matched the outfits, chose the background to use, and more.
When fatherhood came
It’s interesting how Billy has eased himself into fatherhood—he has embraced it fully and it has completely changed his priorities.
“There was a lot of getting to know myself as a dad—responsibilities, what should I do next, what’s my goal in 10 years, what’s my future for my son and family, those are the thoughts that’s going through my mind now,” he says. In the past, he would wonder if he had a job the next week, he would worry about his bank account—now his concerns are broader, “mas malawak,” he says.
“I grew up, and quickly. Fatherhood hit me hard. You know the no sleep, the learning how to bathe Amari,” he says. “I think God was really really with me through the journey.”
Yet, fatherhood seemed almost second nature to Billy, who has always loved children.
“For some reason, I don’t want to sound egotistical, or arrogant at that. But for some reason, I prayed about this so much, and I prayed that one thing I want to do, I want to be in my life, not necessarily for my craft, was for me to be a really good husband, and an excellent dad. And so my dad has always been an excellent father to me,” he says.
So when it was time for Billy to become a dad, it seemed natural. “I’ve always had that special care—I love kids—especially when Amari is my own child. The care is so different. For some reason I knew how to hold him, I knew how to carry him, I knew how to change his diapers. You know. There were a lot of learning experiences about swaddling and all of that, but there’s a lot of getting to know each other as well. But we all just fit. I don’t think there was so much of an adjustment period,” he says. Of course, he also had help from his mother-in-law, Coleen’s mother, who lived nearby.
Amidst the dad-routine and milestones
Now, he revels in the little milestones that he gets to observe when he’s at home.
“I wake up at 5 in the morning, take care of the baby until Coleen wakes up. If I have to go to work I will be up 7-7:30 in the morning. Coleen will have to take care of him the whole day until I get back around 7PM. Sometimes he’s awake, sometimes he’s asleep. So I sometimes miss the growth spurts, the milestones here and there. But it’s the sacrifice that fathers have to do,” he reveals.
There’s always something new with Amari—just the day before, apparently Amari said mommy for the first time, while calling Coleen to eat. “But I didn’t see it so I don’t believe it,” says Billy in jest. “There’s really a lot of milestones—he’s crawling all over the place,” says Billy, even sharing how Amari’s legs are full of bruises from his adventures.
Yet, the pandemic also presented a blessing of some sort to Billy and Coleen, as the restrictions meant more time is spent at home, as a family. From Coleen’s pregnancy, to giving birth—all of it was during lockdown.
“We’ve been through so much as a family,” he says about the situation of parenting in the pandemic. “I take it as an advantage, especially Coleen’s pregnancy. Because it meant less interactions with strangers, and how she was more relaxed and just spent time at home. She was just in her shell. So it was an advantage for us that we were in lockdown,” he says.
The biggest disadvantage, he shares, was that everything had to be delivered instead. He was quick to add though how, through his amazing friends and family. They managed to get everything they needed prior to Amari’s birth.
Proud husband, proud father
Coleen also had a water birth at home, and this meant that they didn’t have to take the risk of giving birth in the hospital during the height of the COVID-19 surge.
“It’s definitely a plus. But it really isn’t for everyone. It depends on the person giving birth actually,” he admits.
“Just for everyone’s information, too, it’s not frowned upon, but it’s also not encouraged by the government to give birth in our homes because of emergency purposes,” he says.
There were many issues about giving birth at home, so they had to comply with regulations from the Quezon City district who then required them to have a stand-by ambulance, doctor, and even a hospital ready.
That wonderful feeling during Coleen’s water birth delivery was close to how he felt when he saw the first ultrasound of Amari.
“I think the reality struck with the first ultrasound when the heartbeat was there. That’s when everything came on like—wow, I’m actually going to be a dad. I’m a dad now, not Kuya Billy. Daddy Billy,” he says of his first realization of fatherhood.
“It was a shock at first, but it was the best feeling ever. It was pretty close to Amari’s birth,” he muses.
“I think the steps of blessings that I’ve had—being married to my wife, it was just like the most beautiful experience I had, and then finding out she was pregnant, that was another beautiful experience, and then giving birth at home, and no epidurals, no whatever medication for her. She just pushed naturally from home water birth. I couldn’t ask for more, to be honest with you.”
Back then, during the water birth, he was quite emotional.
“I’m pretty sure I was crying. And then I remember when they actually wrapped him around, gave him to me, and I showed him to Coleen who was actually trying to get rid of the placenta at that time, I said, ‘Look, Love, it’s our son.’ And then she looks at me, and looks at our son, and said ‘Yes, say hello to your ONLY child.’”
And despite having many light moments, and even bloopers that day, Billy remains thankful about the beautiful moment.
“Sobrang it was just magnificent, an amazing experience to see my wife go through that. And Amari comes into this world beautifully like that. Words cannot describe how I felt,” he adds.
The experience of fatherhood has heightened his appreciation for mothers as well.
“You know, the sacrifices of all moms, to you, all the moms out there, hats off to all of you. What you had to sacrifice with your bodies, not just mentally but for my wife’s career, my wife’s decisions in life. Everything, we all had to take it into account at the end of the day because of the family,” he shares.
As the two of them learn to be parents together, he gives her much credit as well.
“I won’t be able to be a good dad if I didn’t have a good wife. Because she was always the one who put me in my place. I may be the man of the house but my wife still calls the shots around here.”
From son to father, to son
Yet most of what Billy learned about fatherhood, he had actually taken from his own dad, Jack. “My father has always been open and very honest with me. So whether it’s about sensitive topics about our bodies, or our mental state; whether it’s for school or nationalism, or for work or jobs—I had the support and the understanding of my dad. When I talked to him, I didn’t have to explain myself, he already got it,” explains Billy.
One of the biggest lessons that his dad taught him was about perspective. He would always tell Billy: “Billy just remember in your life—there’s no such thing as problems. Because you will go through ‘problems’ throughout your life, but there are no such things as ‘problems’ because out of the problems [you face] you can always find solutions,” recalls Billy of his father.
“And my dad was a very good problem solver. It made me better. It made me stress [about things] less. It made me worry more about what I wanted to do in life than my focus on school, finding a job, this and that,” he says.
“I think my dad opened up my door for my dreams and he made it possible by just giving it all to me. He opened the doors to me. Go ahead, listen to this type of music. Go ahead and watch this type of movie, or this show. He never put a barrier and said, ‘You’re too young for that.’ He always said, ‘We will learn throughout every single process.’”
And now, it’s Billy’s turn to give back these thoughts to his little man, Amari. He ends his pre-Father’s Day interview with words of encouragement to his Amari:
“You’ve got this son. That’s all I have to say. There’s nothing that your mom and I will never do for you. Sky’s the limit for you, Amari. Just remember to think before you speak. Think before you act. Respect yourself and respect everyone else around you. And we love you so much, and if you ever ever need anything, daddy will always be here. I got you. I got you, my little man.”