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Thursday, June 25, 2009

pOsT faTheR's Day

Our dearest childhood memories have nothing to do with the size of our house, the luxury of the family car, or the net worth of the household bank account. We remember laughter, joy, touch, and the small, every-day experiences where we truly felt loved and protected. To all the fathers who make such things the ultimate priority, thank you. Happy Father's Day!

Last Sunday, 21 June 2009 I went to a UCCP Church here in Dumaguete City. I thought Father's Day was a week before that. It turned out that it was that Sunday and not the other Sunday.

I send a short text message to my dad and greeted him. I did not expect any reply though. Surprisingly, he did. The message read:

"What should I be happy of?"

In a way, it struck me. My dad hasn't been too pessimistic since he and mom separated. It made me think. It pricked my heart. I did not try to entertain the thought and what I was feeling at that time. It had been a long time now you see. But memories are still fresh and vivid.

It was during a part of the Sunday church service when dads were asked to stand. Jokingly, a friend and I stood. We, along with the other dads, were given a small card. It was some plain card. A mere colored oslo paper with some prints on it with a small ribbon to accent it. It was basically nothing. But as soon as my eyes saw what was written on that small, insignificant home-made card, it made me remember my dad. It made me reminisce those good old times we have had.

5 Signs of a Loving Family by Gary Chapman (1995)

A LOVING FATHER will be active in his fathering.
The passive father is a responder. He relates to his child only when the child initiates the process. The active father looks ways to be involved in his children's lives.

I am the second of five children. My dad doesn't usually talk to us about anything. I remember when I was younger, my dad would usually talk to mom or to some of his friends and I would make several attempts to get his attention wanting so much to join with their conversation. Dad kept on ignoring me and I felt bad. As I grew older, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was too young to understand what was being talked about.

My dad is not the kind of person who would ask you how have you been doing in school. He is the "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" kind of dad. Not unless we open things up, in which seems to be awkward, he would usually move away.

The LOVING FATHER will make time for his children.
Today's business and professional world does not value fathering but instead gives emphasis on production and on man's ability to accomplish.

The year was 1993. It was one of the most amazing years that I can remember with him, aside from the darkest decades that I endured, being my father. He was cool. A law enforcer for a dad was a child’s, during my time, dream dad. He would always bring me to school wearing his overly cool police uniform and would, again fetch me after his work. It was great calling him my father.

The LOVING FATHER engages his children in conversation.
There is no substitute for regular conversation. Conversation is one of the essential tools of fathering, and in a functional family, the father uses it regularly.

It may be funny to some people, but having a dad who would shout at you every 4:00AM of your weekday just to go to school, shout at you to get up using words of extreme descriptive and emotional sensation that you don’t need to hear just to tell he’s mad, and physically hurt you just to have you eat your breakfast without even having the slightest feeling of holding back, is not really an anecdote to those who are suffering or had suffered the extreme showcase of father-son love. It was like cancer – an agonizing experience that will slowly and painfully devour you.

The LOVING FATHER plays with his children.
The common problem is that fathers emphasize on "winning" and "doing it right" rather than having fun.

He treated us like toys – enjoying the pointless battering and unexplainable blabbering. It was the complete transformation of a once humane father to a monster I wish I never had known before.

At the occurrence of remembering what had happened, I can’t help myself but cry– of how dad beat mom up, of how he maltreated us, of how he placed me inside a sack, hang me upside down and of how he planned of shooting me at the head, of how he punched me and of how I suffered the pain it caused.

The LOVING FATHER teaches his values.
Values are things in life which we attach worth. Values are strongly held beliefs by which we order our lives.

Family had always been the strongest foundation to a man's life. It is where he begins; it is where he draws back.

I have known many and different kinds of people in my life. I’ve met men who are caring and sensitive and men who are cruel and calculating. I’ve known women who are sincere and honest and women who are jealous and hateful. I’ve seen smiles filled with lies and tears wet with truths. I’ve shared time with those who have needed me and I’ve been by myself when I was in need. I’ve been associated with people who are dreamers but not doers and with people who make promises but never keep them. I’ve found myself learning how to understand all these personalities and to avoid those that cause my life’s sadness.

The LOVING FATHER provides and protects his children.
This is the most basic level of fathering. Meeting the child's need for food, clothing and shelter is the least a father can do for his children.

It was the year 1996 when everything changed. Setting aside the complex strata of Philippine political destabilization and politically incurred rallies, my dad underwent a sudden phenomenal and abrupt change.

He turned into a monster.

He started to act weird towards us, towards me. He was hostile, unreceptive, harsh, and tough. He treated us with utmost distaste. He started shouting at us for no valid reason at all. Whip us with his belt for petty mischief.

Would your father whip you for playing with the fixtures on the clothesline? Well, my father did.

The LOVING FATHER loves his children unconditionally.
Unconditional love is the only true love. Love must never be the payment for right behaviour ("I love you if you do this..."). True love has no conditions.

I experienced yet another agonizing moment that would depict the Passion of Christ. I can still remember the perfect display of my acts; kneeling on mongo seeds and rock salt, belt-buckle whipping, and getting locked on the comfort room are a few examples of my arduous punishments.

Would it be reasonable to hurt somebody due to plain emotional instability and pure fascist rule?
The former would be highly revocable to contend with the justification of prudent parental moral obligation but the latter was an intense freedom from the thought that I would never be able to experience a caring father forever.

But even after all that has happened, I still dreamt that one day, I would find a logical, reasonable, and acceptable explanation behind his inane hurting. I was the hopeful one among my kith and kin.

That even when everything went topsy-turvy, I would still be a Joseph who would be highly optimistic and dream that someday, everything would be fine.

Things have changed though. And some things are unchangeable. Memories will always remain - good or bad - vivid and clear. My dad will always be my dad. I don't usually say this nor do I frequently express what I feel and I don't have all eternity for my dad to know this but this is for sure, amidst hurts and pains, Dad, I love you!

This is for you dad.
Happy Father's Day!

Photos courtesy of:
Jon Spot Photography