Disclaimer: This piece has already been edited by people from New Slang before I decided not to finish and send it to them. They think it still lacks the cohesion to be put up in their site (and I agree), but I don’t think I need to change anything anymore. It’s not that I think it’s perfect per se, but I think it’s already perfect this way.
I guess I’ll never be a creative essay writer like most writers, but here’s my sincerity, Pa. I tried, yet I don’t mind if the only audience this’ll get are those who read my blog.
Papa never liked being late. He would rather be the one waiting than the one being waited. And so, on my first day of summer internship he woke me up, drove me to the bus terminal, and told me that to be able to leave a good first impression, one must always be earlier than everybody else. Which is why 95% of the time, I’m always the early bird. The other 5% is for the days I wake up late and laze around.
My goal is a hundred. For now, that number is exclusively Papa’s.
My father was a family guy way before he even became the head of our family. The eldest of six, he was the Kuya who disciplined his siblings with love and concern, the panganay who always took the greater responsibility among the children. He grew up in the face of poverty: if he wasn’t in school, he was in the palayan helping his own father out.
I have no doubts that he is a man of great wisdom. He may not have all those degrees after his name, but his life lessons are more interesting to me than all the other rags-to-riches stories that I’ve heard in my life. Out of the many stories he has told me, a personal favorite would be a story from when he was still in college, during what was probably the only college barkada outing he—being a family man and all— attended. Yet, it’s a story he cannot forget until now.
At that time, he was already helping Lolo in the fields. While his friends were always skipping school and having fun, he was studying hard and working harder. He may come off as the serious type in the way I have described him; but he also wanted to have fun, being young and full of energy.
So he joined their barkada beach get-away—in his school uniform.
Every time he shares this story (and we never get tired of it, promise!), there are always lessons attached: count your blessings, be content, live in humility, and honor your parents. That last one especially, because if he hadn’t obeyed, he wouldn’t be able to give my brother and I the life we now enjoy. We’re not filthy rich—I always say we’re in the average scale of the meter—but we’re blessed to be studying instead of working the fields. I respect my father and grandfather who toiled to put food on their family’s table, and while farming is a noble endeavor, it is not the dream that God has put in my heart, nor in my brother’s.
Which brings me to my next point: my father, as well as the rest of the family, supported me all the way when I told them I wanted to become a journalist. From the time I became the very first junior EIC of my high school newspaper, up ‘til now as I prepare for my final year in Ateneo, they never left me on my own. They were happy for every success and supportive for all the minor roadblocks. Especially Papa. He never failed to show me how proud he is of every article I’ve written, and he always took time to listen to my rants and raves. Heck, he even wants my first GUIDON article framed!
When I was deciding which course to take in college, he suggested (but did not insist) that I take up Nursing. While I qualified for the Nursing program in UST, he did not object when I pursued Communication Arts in Ateneo instead. If it was my philosophy professor, he would have given me two thumbs up in approval. The same philosophy professor would have approached my father, shook his hand and told him that by setting me free, by letting me decide my own life, he was being responsible for me as a separate and different individual, albeit still his own daughter.
And by letting me chase after my dream while still holding my hands in guidance, he truly loved me.
At this point some of you may already be saying “Your dad’s cool! He’s so liberal and open-minded. If it was Facebook, may isang LIKE na siya!” I would have to stop you there, though, because (1) yes, he’s a cool dad, but (2) no, he’s not that liberal or open-minded. If anything, he’s a strict, conservative father. He doesn’t like it when we stay over at friends’ houses, save for a few exceptions; he doesn’t like it when we answer back, especially to our mother and; although I’m in a course that I chose for myself, he still wants me to do my best—he expects not just good, but excellent grades.
I love him for that, though. Most people might think I’m just saying this—I don’t care. I am proud to say that it is his discipline that has brought me to where I am now. If it weren’t for his strictness, I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened to me by now.
“Papunta pa lang kayo, pabalik na kami.” “There is wisdom in aging.” I believe in both statements earnestly, which is why I don’t mind turning 20 this year—ah, out with the teen and in with the two! I recall the very first time my brother got his own cellular phone for his 14th birthday—I was 12 then. I was so jealous (they gave me a hand-me-down phone on the same day) that I wanted to grow up—and grow up fast!—so I can get my hands on a brand new phone as well. Of course now it’s different: I want to grow up (not fast, please. Just steady, normal growing will do, thankyouverymuch) because there’s more to life that is yet to be experienced, enjoyed, and embraced. I’ve learned to appreciate maturity not because my father directly taught it to me but because I have seen how he has matured through the years.
After everything has already been said and done, one thing is still what is most important: the greatest thing that I will thank Papa for is the faith that I have in God. As the years went by, he helped me learn more about my faith, and he walked with me as I grow in it and with it. I am a Born-Again Christian—so is the rest of the family—and for us, Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God. You may strip me off of all the values I mentioned in this article, but as long as I have faith, I’m sure I’ll still get them all back.