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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Day that Separates the Men from the Boys

It is Father's Day.

An essay in college earned me a perfect score. The essay was about my father.

I know I still have that essay tucked away somewhere for the little mice to discover. But what I remember having written is that I may always talk about my mother but I always write about my father.

Talking about someone is spontaneous, but writing about someone takes more from you.

I never told him he is the best Dad in the world because hard as I rake memories back I can't recall anything spectacular he's done, apart from paving the way for my being born. Perhaps?

My father isn't the best Dad in the world because he isn't perfect. He's got loopholes the way side streets have potholes, manholes and assholes.

His imperfection is classic. A patent for all fathers. He used to womanize, to drink and to go home the next day reeking of alcohol. He used to fight with my mother, albeit in hushed voices. No, he never physically abused her, I'd give him that. No, he never fathered a child other than those he manufactured with my Mom, and we never doubted it.

Father was also a fan of corporal punishments when we were kids. Rubber slippers, buckled belt, dos por dos, and anything than can be had at the time he needed it.

Nevertheless, father isn't so bad. He cooks well and loves to grow plants in the backyard. When I was but five years old he would take me to movies, just us on a date. We would also go shopping with the family every other weekend.

Father never voiced out his regrets about having a daughter for a firstborn. I made sure to make him proud every which way possible. And he never complained.

At 64, he is in the pink of health. Save for seasonal complaints of aching joints, he is as strong as he was in his 30s. He can still climb trees and cut them. He can bend his back the whole morning tending to his little garden. This morning he sharpened knives and axes and saws and cut wood for outdoor cooking. He also fixes the roof when it leaks and hammers and repairs what needs repairing.

Father is no longer the fascistic Dad he once was. My nephews call him Tati and he at their beck and call. And he works his way to being the Best Lolo in the World.

On the 24th of the month, Father turns 65.

Going 65, he is starting to be the perfect Dad in the world.

Happy Father's Day, Tatay!


  1. Perhaps it was because I was bunsong lalake, that I was dad's pet. He'd steal me, and bring me to Manila Zoo, then off to Araneta Coliseum for the PBA games. Cheap bleacher seats. That was all he could afford. I remember sitting on my dad's shoulders, my legs and arms wrapped around his neck, when he'd take me on long walks after he'd come home work. I remember the smell. Stinky smell of his pomade baked in the sun and punctuated by perspiration. But at that time I remember that to be the sweetest smell in the world.

    My dad died about five years ago. We had a major spat, and didn't communicate for 2 months. Then I got the news that he was in the hospital. I visited him, he was already unable to talk. He died 3 days later.

    Being the writer in the family, I was tasked to write his eulogy. I wrote a two minute piece to be delivered by an older brother. In those two minutes, I wrote the humanity of my father. I wrote like I have never written before. It was the last decent thing I would do for the man who loved me dearly. I wish I could share that someday (what I wrote). But the wounds are still fresh until now. Perhaps someday. I can write it, not just for friends and family, but for the world.

  2. I think fathers are the least appreciated of all. It is because we, children, are seen as the natural and biological extention of our mothers. Mothers carried us all 9 months and brought us into the world with pain like death. Fathers, on the other hand...

  3. on the other hand, would stroke my hair till I fall asleep when my fever got high. Would carry me 2 kilometers to a hospital when I injure myself.

    My dad had me when he was 36. He was a big bear of a man and the toughest SOB at the Western Police District at his time (no exaggeration). But to me as a kid, his lap was nothing more than horsie-horsie. He was the kindest gentlest father anyone can hope for.