If not for the two bears (a father bear and his cub) flying kite in today’s yahoo.com homepage I wouldn’t have remembered that today is father’s day. This purely American tradition that became a national day, set every third Sunday of June, in the US under Nixon in the 70s is a relatively new celebration in the Philippines which is almost always a copycat of the United States.
So I was prompted to send an SMS to my mother to send papa my greetings for him. My father whose name is Juan, whom I was probably named after, is a traditional man who spent his growing up year in Janiuay, Iloilo as a young farmer. Driven by ambition, he left for the city and worked for his older brother. There, in Iloilo City, he met my mother who is the younger sister of the wife of my father’s older brother.
After he finished his studies in a trade school in the city, he and my mom left for Manila and got married in Pasay in 1983. They then went back to Iloilo for my mom to continue her college. After four years and three small children they left for South Cotabato in Mindanao to settle permanently.
In the early 90s my mother worked as a public school teacher and my father as a casual carpenter and security guard. After some time, since he took educational units in college, he started teaching Industrial Arts in the same public high school my mom is teaching. I have no childhood recollection of my father similar to those scenes I see in mainstream media.
I remember him to be strict and detached. He never showed any emotion whenever he dealt with his children. There was however one time when during dinner time I told a joke I heard from a classmate. My father laughed uncontrollably that a grain of rice came out from his nose. I already forgot what that joke was about, but it was the only time somebody laughed at my joke, and it was my father.
My father and I are the complete opposites. He would always mention while I was growing up how my hands are abnormally soft like that of women; his hands are rough. That I did not like doing manual job; he supported the family as a carpenter when he was younger. That all I did was reading; except for his books on building construction he never reads and always complains about his blurry eyes.
But never did he force any of his children to love the kind of life he lived in the province before. We grew up scared of farm animals he loves, protected from the hardships he experienced when he was growing up in the farm.
Eventually, when we all left for college, he saw to it to give all of us a lump of soil from our yard which according to him will help us remember our home wherever we are and to help us ease the longing because of being away. I thought it was funny, but after six years of being away, I appreciate now the value of that handful of soil my father gave us.
And while looking at the bears flying kite again this evening, I remember that at one point my father and I did fly a kite when I was nine. It was the harvest time for pineapples and the field was filled with people handpicking the prickly fruits when my father and I were staring at the kite he made soaring beyond the clouds.
I know he will not be able to read this post, but I am dedicating this to him anyway. This is for Juan whom John looks up to all these times but cannot muster the courage to tell him how hard he tries to be like Juan.