The testimony of Zaldy Carlos as told to Nicole Gusto
Abandoned as a Child
My biological family lived in the squatter area of Manila, along Siena College. When my mother was still pregnant with me, she had a fight with my father. I was born pre term, and she died. My dad ended up being angry with me often. I was only within the ages of 2-4 years old when he abandoned me at the convent of the Carmelite sisters. Blind on my left eye because of an illness, I was a weak child. The nuns had to raise funds for me to get eye surgery.
I stayed with the Carmelite sisters until one of the nuns found a family from Negros who was willing to adopt me. I was seven years old when they entrusted me to this new family. They supported and cared for me but granted me no privilege of inheriting their family name. They were wealthy and had their own hacienda, and the children of this affluent family were already grown up. Unfortunately, they did not completely accept me as one of their own. At that point, my life felt like a teleserye as I struggled with gaining acceptance as an adoptive child.
Adopted yet Unaccepted
My adoptive family funded my education. I eventually graduated from elementary, high school, and college. And yet I knew that something was missing. I still felt empty. During any birthday, milestone, or life event, no one from my foster family came to support me. On every graduation day, it was my classmates who would pin the ribbon on me. Meanwhile, I’d notice my friends’ mothers and fathers proudly standing beside them. I tried to understand my adoptive parents’ perspective: they were busy people running a hacienda. However, even though I was respected as their adoptive child, I still felt incomplete.
Young Zaldy dreamed of being a singer and a dancer.
Meeting God for the First Time
When I was a freshman in college, I loved joining singing contests and often represented my batch. For College Day, one of my rivals was Martin Francisco. He gave us contestants a funny offer—after the singing event, we would be invited to perform at his church’s anniversary. I told him I’d only accept his invitation if I could beat him in the College Day competition. I sang “Nais ko” by Leo Valdez, and I won!
The first time I went to Martin’s church, I was surprised. Old ladies welcomed us at the entrance, guiding us where to sit as the praise and worship started. I was culture shocked! During worship, people were raising their hands. Where were the priests? Why were people so happy?
Why were some of them crying? Then the worship team started playing “The Lord is My Great God.” I suddenly felt warm. The atmosphere was changing. This song was upbeat, yet I felt the urge to kneel down.
Then someone prayed over me. “God will be with you in your journey. And you will bless a lot of people. Umawit ka lang ng umawit. Just keep on singing.” At the end of the service, the pastor approached me, asking me to lead the worship team the following Sunday. I thought it was strange to receive an offer like this, especially since it was my first time in a Christian church! Eventually, I sang in their worship service the following Sunday. Somehow, it didn’t feel like a mere performance. The audience was not looking up to me as a singer. Everyone was focusing on Someone higher than me. The adoration was for God; Hispresence felt tangible, and I couldn’t forget it.
I surrendered my life to the Lord and turned into someone who was so on fire for Him. I became very active in the worship team and would even share the gospel with random strangers while commuting in the jeep. Searching for My Father Years later, my relationship with my adoptive siblings was on the rocks. Because I had grown close to my adoptive father, they were afraid that I would gain their inheritance. They rejected me. Back then, I was still wishing I had a connection to my real, biological family. All these circumstances finally urged me to leave.
Zaldy joins different events and competitions to sing.
In our town, there were singing contests that gave away cash and a one-way ticket to Manila as a grand prize. I told myself I’d win so that I could find my real father in Manila. I lost when I first joined the contest. In the second year, I finally won, singing “Magsimula ka” by Leo Valdez.
It was time to find my father.
Something Is Still Missing
I only had a picture and address. I was an adventurous person so I’d go on foot and directly ask the locals about my father. I reached the same squatter area where my father lived, the one near Sienna College.
The locals there recognized my father in the picture! They brought me to him, and after 25 years, I finally met him.
But for some reason, as my father stood in front of me, I could not react. I couldn’t cry or run to him. I only felt afraid and nervous. The realization hit me—I was in a foreign place. And my father was foreign to me too. I never really knew him, and he never knew me. I couldn’t embrace him because I never experienced his love.
It turned out that he had another wife; he even had 13 kids with her. They brought me to their tiny house, but I eventually left their place because it was too tight. It wasn’t suitable for me.
Finding a Place to Belong
I decided to leave my father’s house when I was invited to attend a church nearby. I volunteered to serve in that church’s worship team by training their singers. During this time, I found myself wandering and church hopping.
For years, I’d stay in one church, but would leave and go to another church whenever I felt that I didn’t have enough support. I’d feel the “fire” in one church, but once I noticed that their worship team was already well-trained, I’d move on to another church. Unknowingly, my training stints in varied churches allowed me to survive financially and have my basic needs met.
Nevertheless, I still wasn’t satisfied. I asked God, “Why can’t I seem to settle? Why am I always moving from one place to another?” Then I met Bishop Larry Delos Santos from Pag-ibig Christian Ministry Inc. By God’s grace, I settled in their church for 15 years.
Recognizing the True Father
It was that time I decided to truly follow God. I was tired of wandering and just doing “church” as if it were an empty tradition or routine. I gave my life and heart back to God. I collaborated with an elder from Pag-ibig Christian Ministry to produce the song “The Pure and Perfect Love,” a reflection of my life story. I saw how God stayed with me throughout my roller coaster journey. His love for me is pure; even though I am not His “blood relative,” He loves me as if I were His real child.
Zaldy with a team of worship ministers.
I may have strayed away at times, but God still pursued me and brought me back into His hands. I thought I could find wholeness in others, but it wasn’t the case. It was the perfect love of God that made me whole.
People’s love for me may fade, but God’s love will never cease. His love is pure; it’s not flawed. His love is perfect because there is no limit to it. It’s His perfect love that makes Him my perfect Father.
Zaldy Carlos is a worship leader at Pag-ibig Christian Ministries, Inc. His many singing accomplishments include being a semi finalist at Pilipinas Got Talent Season 2 in 2011, and being the Champion of the Manila Pavillion Golden Voice in 2017. He is one of the co-hosts of the show “Tinapay at Tubig ng Buhay” at UCAP Radio.
Nicole is part-nerd and part-artist. She’s a passionate speech pathologist, writer, dreamer, occasional ventriloquist, and a total geek for stories. She dances through words and writes to speak life to readers. She also regularly blogs at https://nicolegusto.com