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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Happy Father's Day Papa!

Today, the world celebrates father's day. And it's our papa's turn to step into the spotlight as we mark this very special day with a heartfelt tribute to them.

I rarely talked about my family in the social media. I don't even post pictures about them. Because I feel that social media is always harsh to people who chose to maintain some degree of sanity and privacy. My parents, raised in an era where life is so much simpler and easier away from the harsh world of technology, just love a simple and peaceful life. So I respected their privacy by not exposing them frequently in my social media posts.

But today is different. It's a father's day. 
So my father, who is already in the prime years of his life, deserves a little exposure. 😁😁

This photo of my father was taken by my sister. He wore a white long-sleeve barong with a huge cross. His usual attire when conducting a church service

I have a very happy childhood. I grew up in a loving home with a strict Catholic upbringing. Nights were spent in prayers and study. And days were mostly spent in school and in the afternoon, some basic catechism lectures. Sundays, Holy Week and Solemnities were spent in the church alone. 

When I was still a kid,  I was a typical Papa's girl who would cry if I would not see my father in a day. Every 5pm, I was excited to go home after school to wait for my parents coming from work. My father always had biscuits or fresh homemade bread he bought from a lone bread house near their working place. It was one of my fondest childhood memories.

Much of my growing up years were molded by my father's principles in life. He is a strict disciplinarian, born in an era where words of parents were treated sacred that must be obeyed at all cost. His traditional way of discipline influenced the way I make decisions in life. And made me who I am today. 

I developed a love for reading early on in life, in part because my father loves to read. He has a monthly subscription to The Colombian, an international magazine for Catholics circulated to all Knights of Columbus (a fraternal organization for Catholic men throughout the world) members, my father is a member of this organization. It was the very first magazine I read. Almost every reading material in our house was all about Catholics, so early on I've a better understanding about my faith. I've a deep ties to my Catholic belief and I was raised observing the Catholic tradition wholeheartedly.

I grew up very close to him. When I was still a kid, I would accompany him to the church where he regularly conducted a church service. Parish priests in Surigao del sur only limited to municipal town, so church in each barangay often left to lay ministers to conduct a Celebration of the Holy Word every Sunday (Holy Mass can only be conducted by ordained priests and deacons). 

Apart from being a Catholic lay minister, papa also worked in the government office. So during school break, I would tag along with him at the municipal hall, I loved it because at lunch time, he would treat me to a lone restaurant in the place which served delectable dishes and allowed me to order anything I want!

He is a cross between a regular guy and an extraordinary fellow. He himself was raised in a comfortable home but did not grow up hostile to the environment. In return, he dedicated his life to humanitarian causes and in the Catholic church service, something he inherited from his mother.  

My father, who has a degree in political science, is an activist, an environmentalist, an anti-mining advocate, a crusader of peace and justice in our province, an advocate of organic farming and a pre-cana (a pre-marriage seminar that should be attended by couples who wish to receive a Catholic wedding) lecturer. He hates inequality and oppression. I grew up watching him going out to the street, voicing his protest against illegal logging and mining industries. I saw his great passion in protecting the environment, something I also inherited. He once fought hard for the closure of two mining companies in Surigao del Sur due to its worst effect in the environment. 

During martial law era, he was one of the vocal leaders in our place fighting against Marcos tyranny. And there were several times that he was almost got arrested. Glad, he had strong connections to local politicians, his arrest was not pursued. I grew up admiring his unique principle, I rarely heard other fathers in our place breathing the same principle as his.

He is always busy, either spending his precious time in the church or organizing activities for social actions. In his own belief, it's every Christian's duty to be responsive to social issues. He often said that we were born to be God's stewards to all His creations, and any activity that will harm the environment and the human dignity must be fought for. I often heard him emphasizing this principle during a pre-cana lecture or at the church conducting a service when our parish priest is out of town. 

His faith towards Catholicism is unparalleled. He always make sure nothing will get astray from the flock. He founded so many organizations in our parish to fortify the Catholic belief in our place. Each week, there's a family gathering for a Bible study. One way or another, I secretly admired my father's superhero-like dedication to the Catholic church and community service. He is also greatly admired in our place, people are fascinated with his unique devotion to the church. He once chaired the PPCRV, the Catholic Church's watchdog during election. And was a Parish Pastoral President in our place for 10 years. 

For the first four years of my life, we lived in a farm where he co-managed a poultry business. He always made a room for farming even though that time he was working full time in the municipal hall as a Local Revenue Collection Officer. He also ventured into Copra, Abaca, Corn and fruits trading, but when insurgencies erupted we moved to my grandparents' place and left the farm to some tenants, seven years later, my father sold this farm and we permanently lived in the town proper. 

He is an attentive and a very protective parent, making  sure we only consumed healthy food. I haven't tried chips and junk foods while growing up. It was only in college that I tried binging chips and chocolates. Back in the farm, even if we had a poultry business, I did not have a chance to consume commercial chicken. He strongly prohibited it. His reason - because commercial chicken is very unhealthy, feeds are high in antibiotic and estrogen, both catalysts of chronic illnesses and cancer. So we were only limited to consuming native chicken which he separately raised for our  personal consumption.

It was only my father who could tolerate my tantrums without losing temper, he would easily yield when I wrangled to buy something maybe because he did not want his eardrum be pierced with my toe-curling wail. But like a good disciplinarian father, he never tolerated some of my impossible lapses, he would shout at the top of his lungs and shut me with glazing eyes if I did something terrible, he would often gave me a corresponding corporal punishment when necessary.

Though he was busy with his work in the government office and in the church, he had plenty of time guiding our growing up years. He never let a single day passed without checking us when he would hear some unsettling issues, his favorite hour of the day (to talk to us) was at the early dawn. And even if we won't wake up, he would sit beside our bed and would bombard us with advises and detailed explanation on how life should be handled to avoid mess. 

Looking back, I learned so many lessons from my father's precious words and "counselling moment" before sunrise. His gentle words, which are unlikely because he was known with his signature "booming voice" in the neighborhood, deeply penetrated into my brain and miraculously worked for the next decades of my life.

Unlike other kids, my siblings and I did not grow up watching television. He strongly prohibited it. So our night time was always spent in studying before we were put to bed. We were  allowed to play with other kids in the neighborhood only on weekends. Back then, I had no issues with this arrangement. And I went on with my life, unruffled.

Meals were always spent in the table with some discussions. Because we had no access to television, my father would just provide us updates with what's going on with the environment, the latest social issues, the unsettling wars on the other side of the world and the economic woes the country was facing during those years. But every Saturday, he would take us to the seaside, just a few distance from our home ( we lived in a coastal area facing the Pacific Ocean), to spend our breakfast. There,  the setting was always relax (no more lectures haha!) and a little informal and we would share plenty of laughter.

My parents. They raised us in a loving home with a very strict Catholic upbringing

He is far from modern and my days during summer were often spent with his long lectures of good conduct and correct manners And because my father loves to read, we've plenty of books in the house, but mostly about Catholic Church.

Before attending college, I had a long week of lectures from him. He warned me endlessly to be cautious with the people I will meet. "Stay away from those who go to the bar and drink alcoholic beverages. Don't talk to boys, don't get involve into a relationship while still in school" and "never come home late at night" were his most prominent reminders. I took everything by heart and hadn't disappointed my father. So I wasn't close to anybody while in college. I was extra cautious with the people I met. The first time I started talking to boys was when I started working. That's why I've this tentative attitude towards men. Until now, I still find it difficult to go out my ways and be comfortable with boys. 

But my discomfort towards men is not my father's fault. In fact, I thanked him endlessly for raising me that way. It's a precaution I made for most part of my life. So don't be surprised that until now I'm single. I wasn't raised to be dependent to men and rush into marriage. I was disciplined to become independent. 

My father often said that I was born in an era where life is often treated unholy by some and where wars are frequently heard everywhere. So he advised me to be extra sensitive to the people who needed help. 

Born in a very conservative environment, my father isn't a fan of all sorts of entertainment. He couldn't even remember if he ever watch movies in his lifetime. He hated variety shows with girls dancing in bikinis, he found it too lurid to be watched by children, so we did not have television until my last year in college. Even then, he strongly discouraged us from watching soap operas. 

But after college, gradually, I was disillusioned with my father's stiff principles in life and we occasionally had a row because of his "wrong" interpretations on some world events. As with most activitists, my father detested America and badly criticized whoever sat as US President. So to prevent from bickering, I would not join him in the living room watching news because we always ended up debating. Several years on and moving to a complicated era of modernity, I could not help but think if my father was right with his interpretations.

Despite his radical principles in life, my father has this endearing character which makes me think if he owns a charity institution in his past life. If he saw a vendor in the street with torn pants, he would give his own, if he saw a homeless person knocking in another door, he would fetch him and let him stay in our house (this happens several times), he regularly offered foods, water and a small amount of money to people who are in dire poverty. He often said that part of our mission in life as a true Christian is to serve our "neighbors" as what the Holy Bible commanded. Once and for all, I extremely admired this part of his character.

My father gave up his smoking habit in 1988 and when he was diagnosed of hypertension in 1990, he totally stopped drinking alcoholic beverages and eating meat. Since 1990s, he has a lifestyle of a Monk. No meat, no processed food, no soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, no seasoning and less salt. He also rarely drinks coffee.

My father is not perfect, he has his own shares of lapses too, but he’s trying hard to be the best father that he could be. More than a father, my Papa served as a good model in my life when it comes to generosity and kindness. His influence and discipline, to be morally upright all the time, made me able to conquer life's demons and temptations.

His deep commitment to the Catholic life service and the community was halted in 2009 when he suffered from cataract. By May 2009, my father became completely blind and his movement was limited to sitting and sleeping. It was a big struggle on his part because he adored reading books and watching news. But the most frustrating part of this condition was the fact that he could no longer offer his service to the community and the church.

In 2010, with constant monitoring from doctors, his blood pressure became stable and he was well enough to undergo an eye operation. Months later, he completely recovered and resumed his devotion to church service.

I am an ever obedient daughter. I grew up with a certain belief that children should never disappoint their parents. So I am always cautious with my action not to implicate shame to my father. For one because he is serving the Catholic church as a lay minister and lecturer.  And it's my duty not to tarnish his reputation. 

There are only two occasions that I disobeyed my father. One, about my college degree. He always wanted me to take up law. So when I entered college, he told my mother to enroll me in a pre-law course, political science, in Ateneo. But I balked, and took up a business course instead. He was badly disappointed but still supported my choice. After college, he wanted me to work in the government office. So he made some arrangement with our town mayor (because that time my uncle, my father's only brother, was serving as a municipal vice mayor). I was given two choices, both head of office items. But I refused both, because I wanted to work in the city. When I finished my masteral degree, my father again asked me to work in the government office. Again, I refused, because I wanted to work in the industry. I relocated in Manila against the wishes of my parents. 

But years went on, I know my father accepted my decision. But still, he has no idea how much I earned now or where I am in my career. I did not tell him the truth because I know he will get disappointed. He has always high expectations on me. Perhaps, because I was so competitive when I was still  in school, I always excelled in everything. And I hated defeat. 

Somehow I felt guilty because in a way I disappointed my father, but I'm not stopping maneuvering my wagon of destiny. I'm in constant pursuit with whatever wonderful path in store for me. I know it's just out there. All I have to do is to chase it. Someday, I know I will be in the right place. As what my father had always expected from me. 

Now,  even if I am miles away from home, I still think about my parents, especially my father, because he has such a huge influence in my life. His discipline endures. And I often turn to his marvelous words whenever I'm in trouble. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm still the same person I am now if he is not my father. If I didn't grow up with his conservative discipline and his unique life's principles. Perhaps not. Perhaps I'm different. Not sensible enough to understand the intricacies of ife. Especially this toxic, liberated world. 

My father is now 78 years old (Oops, don't start counting, my father got married super late in life and I was born two years after my parents' wedding)  and I am very thankful that he is healthy and sprightly active. Despite his constant bout of hypertension, he is well enough to live a normal life everyday. He has a very healthy lifestyle and his active church service adds zest to his daily routine.

For this happy occasion honoring all the fathers in the world, my only wish for my father is to be healthy all the time and live a long life, well enough to see me build a family of my own. 😃😃

Happy Father's Day Papa! 

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authorI am a blogger from the Philippines. My interest centers on travel and food, global affairs, European royals and self-help. I've a great passion in traveling and photography. I am also a book author with five published books in Amazon.
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