An Ode to Papa for Father’s Day

Papa trying to be cute in front of a fountain somewhere in Singapore

There is so much in life that I have learned from my father. He was in many ways a very simple man, but yet he had strong values that he taught his children, not by lecturing (although he did some of that too), but by his example.

He started his life in a farm in Tiaong, Quezon. He is the eldest in a brood of six, and was left to accompany his grandfather while the family moved to the big city. At a very young age he started working to help in the fields. He assisted his aunt and was a huge aid to his grandfather. Despite juggling house chores and school activities, he managed to finish his primary and secondary education with flying colors. I’m sure he pulled some occasional mischievous acts during his youth but he never really brought serious trouble (or so I was told). When he graduated highschool, he left the province and went to Manila for college. At 16, he started working at night and went to school in the morning. His rest depends on how long the bus ride would be from work to school and back.

Papa wanted to be a lawyer but didn’t have the money to go to law school so he took up Criminology. One day, after college, while looking for a job in the streets of Manila, he saw a long line of men. He was told there was a job opening, so he fell in line, filled out the form and woke up the next day – he was already a marine in training. The training was no easy feat but with all the field work he did back in the province, I’m sure he managed well than the others.

When he was in the service, he would get assigned to different parts of the country, mostly where the National People’s Army breeds. Papa is a wise spender, he would save enough money to make sure that we would be able to spend our summers with him, wherever he’s assigned. My parents tried their best to provide for us and though we can’t afford most of the things other kids enjoyed, all of us know how to make do of what we have.

In hindsight, I can’t believe how far his career has become. He was a farmer until highschool, a factory worker in college, and a soldier after graduation, he even guarded the statue of Jose Rizal in Luneta. After about 2 decades in the military, he transferred to the police workforce where he held several notable but stressful positions. I’d get a kick when he gets radio interviews, and when I saw him on TV once I just found it too surreal. He retired as a police officer. After retirement, he tried to put up a business but failed, maybe because God has other great plans for him. He is now a diplomat, still bearing the country’s flag in his heart.

He is a real trooper, literally and figuratively. He weathered life’s hardships may it be personal or work-related. For him, working hard is a way of life, whether you are doing household chores or battling terrorists. I’m glad as he aged, with my mom’s influence, he started to enjoy life a little bit more. He travels and tries new things with my mom. He takes pleasure in shopping (and window shopping) now that he can afford things he wasn’t able to buy before.

For my father, it was a long and sometimes painful journey towards success. He slowly but carefully planned his future and the family’s future. My brothers and I got a thing or two from him when it comes to money, working-hard and what is important in life, though I know we will always pale in comparison with him. He actually deserves more than an ode in print. He is a hero of this country and he is a hero to all the people who look up to him: those are his parents who were so proud of him when they were still alive; his wife who tried her best to keep the family together despite his absence when he’s on assignments; his brothers and sister who have a very high regard of him as their eldest; all of his nephews and nieces and of course his children and grandchildren who would only have utmost respect for such a remarkable man.

Happy Father’s Day Papa!

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