Father’s Day for me is like remembering Rizal’s Day or perhaps Araw ng Kagitingan. Some people may celebrate it but others just let the day pass by like any ordinary day of the year. And forgive me for sounding indifferent but I’d like to identify myself with the latter when it comes to remembering Father’s Day.
Growing up in a household dominated by females i.e. my mother and my aunt, I could say I literally grew up without a father by my side. Well, my uncle was there but mostly busy with his work and career as a lawyer, and he is not always present to show guidance and fatherly advice to me because of his frequent trips.
My biological father you may ask, well, he is alive but not living with us due to some complications (you know, a common story nowadays). Thus, I spent my childhood hearing the admonitions of my aunt to eat my meals on time, minimize eating chitcheria, stay away from street kids who usually loiter our front gate, to take my afternoon naps, refrain from irritating my cousin (who was a special child), to always turn off our B/W TV after watching the afternoon cartoons, so on and so on. I also experienced leather belts hitting my butt as punishment.
While in the evenings I excitedly await the arrival of my mother from work bringing with her various pasalubongs like my favorite mamon cake, chocolate bars, toy cars and miniature soldiers and the likes. But what excites me the most is from time to time she would bring home the latest copy of Questor Magazine or a Marvel or DC comics bought from National Bookstore Cubao or Alemars near Pantranco. Superheroes became real for me even for just one evening before I go to sleep. And weekends were special too as sometimes I would accompany my mother to her out of town trips with her office mates.
I remember one request though that I kept repeating for her to buy then was a real Voltes V robot. This one with real detachable metal parts that can be re-assembled to form a 12-inch Voltes V. Sadly, this was never granted. Well, during those times this scale model robot really costs a lot and the income of a single mother whose expenses range from sending me to a private school, purchasing the weekly groceries, the water and electricity bills, to paying the rent really has no room for an expensive toy robot. Thus, at school I just watched the kids who brought their own Voltes V every Friday and dreamt that someday I too would play with a similar one. So, I just contented myself to having plastic robots with lighted eyes and feet with rolling wheels.
That was the life I remember when I was in kinder and throughout my elementary years. My main source of wisdom and knowledge came from my mother and my aunt (may her soul rest in peace). And never did they mention about a father who is supposed to help them with these responsibilities.
But when high school came, I did experience having a father, sort of. Well, in this case a stepfather. I remember him talking to me and asking me of my plans like what course would I take in college, what cars do I like etc. At first, I felt uncomfortable having a person I just knew for several months and poking these questions to me. But later, I realized that it’s kind of good to be having this manly talk and getting advices from a man.
At least also at that time, he introduced me to pop and rock music because of his wide collection of cassette tapes and LP’s which he brought back from his work from the Middle East. However, most of the time, in fact most of the years, he is slaving away at the Middle East working there as an OFW. Thus, I only see him every three or four years due to his required two months’ vacation here in the Philippines. And when he is here, he was always too busy with so many things like catching up with relatives and friends, tinkering with his project car and most especially trying to be a father to my half-sister and two half-brothers.
But even then, I still thank my step-father for taking care of my mother and me and continuing to support me up to my college years. Without his support I wouldn’t be able to finish my studies especially right after the 1986 EDSA Revolution when my mother lost her job because her bosses were true-blue Marcos loyalists.
However, when I became a father to my two lovely daughters my unexciting view of fatherhood diminished. Because now I realized the importance of growing up together with my daughters and being there at their most momentous events. We laughed together, do karate chops together, made funny faces together, to run and tumble in the park’s grasses, taught them how to ride a bicycle and I even exposed them to listening to The Beatles, Hall and Oates, Paul Davies, Tears for Fears among others. I felt that I should not only treat them as my kids to be disciplined or reprimanded all the time but also as friends to hang-out with and just enjoy the moment together laughing and joking around.
I wanted them to experience what I did not experience in my youth of having a real father. So that, even though they are girls, they can also share the joy of fatherhood to their own children later. And for them to have a more positive view of the role of active parenting in raising happy, independent, intelligent and loving children.
And I realized that what I lacked for a physical father-figure, I got mine in my own mother. Happy Father’s Day to all especially to the strong women in our lives! They are the real heroes we need to remember and emulate like Rizal and the countless heroes who sacrificed their lives so that others may live.
© 2018 Roberto I. Belda