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Tom Rodriguez’s best tribute to his dad

Tom Rodriguez and Carla Abellana

I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it weren’t for him—he was the best ever,” actor Tom Rodriguez said of his American father, William Albert Mott, Sr., who died on March 25 in the United States.

The cause wasn’t disclosed but it had been reported in the past that William was battling sarcoma (a rare kind of cancer).

It was from his father the Kapuso star got his “silliness, naughtiness, corniness and love for singing.”

But more importantly, he was nurturing and never got in the way of whatever Tom wanted to pursue in his life.

“He encouraged and supported my interests, always,” he told the Inquirer at the recent press conference for GMA Public Affairs’s coming primetime series “I Heart Davao.”

“When I was young, I remember watching my father opening and working on his computer. And when he wasn’t around, I would go imitate him. One time, I ended up messing the machine. But instead of scolding me, he just began having me by his side during his work hours,” recalled Tom, who flew to Arizona on March 17 so he could be by his father’s side—for one last time.

Tom plans to honor his father by embarking on “personal projects.” “I want to do something special for him, and hopefully, I could share it with other people soon. I will forever be thankful to him for shaping me. And I think the best tribute I can give him right now is to continue doing good deeds,” the actor said.

Losing a loved one was difficult, he said. At times he just felt like locking up himself in his room and shouting. “But I couldn’t afford to do that; I couldn’t be too emotional, because I have to be strong for my family,” he said.

But as tough as it is, all he can do is to try to move forward. “I have always dedicated everything I do to my family, to my father. But more so right now,” he said. “I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by great people, whose love and support put me at ease.”

That “great support system,” included Tom’s girlfriend, Carla Abellana, who’s also his leading lady in “I Heart Davao” (to air starting June 26).

Tom Rodriguez (right) with dad William Albert Mott Sr.

“I feel a lot better now. I’m so happy to have her—she was one of the first people to comfort me,” Tom related. “She made sure I was doing OK.”

Tom recently returned to work which, he said, had helped him keep his mind off sad thoughts. The new romantic comedy series is about Hope (Carla), a heart transplant who goes to Davao to save her family’s chocolate business. And there she meets Ponce (Tom), who, unknown to her, is the ex-boyfriend of her heart donor.

The series, which also stars Benjamin Alves, is written by Chris Martinez and directed by Marlon Rivera.

“The show is set in Davao, and we hope to showcase the beauty of the province, its people and their warmth, and the many fun activities you can do there,” Tom said.

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