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Dear Daddy

Millennials on what they wish they could tell their ‘absent fathers’


By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
University of Santo Tomas

Fathers’ Day is a wonderful day. It gives us the chance to celebrate fatherhood, to reflect on the hundreds of things that our fathers have done for us, and to shower our fathers with love and appreciation.

Unfortunately, there are people who don’t get to truly celebrate this day, particularly those who do not have their fathers around.

Often, when we hear the phrase “absent fathers,” we automatically assume that this refers to fathers neglecting and abandoning their children.

But this is not always the case. Sometimes, fathers are absent because they have to work abroad or they are separated from their wives but still in touch with their kids. In worst case scenarios, this means that they have already passed away.

In this fast-paced modern world, we sometimes forget to have conversations with our fathers, and leave them simple and generic greetings and messages, but there is so much more that we could say to them than just “I love you” and “Happy Fathers’ Day.”

With this, five young adults shared their experiences with their “absent fathers,” what they miss the most about them, and what they wish they could tell them this coming Fathers’ Day.

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“Pa, thank you!”

Corheinne Joyce’s father, Reynaldo Colendres, is a seaman, and so while she was growing up, he was not always present in the house.

They make up by having long conversations, whether via text or call, or in person whenever Reynaldo was home. Every time something important happens or whenever she needs someone to talk to, Corheinne’s go-to confidant is her dad.

Corheinne understands that since her father is not always present, she should be grateful for the little things that he does for her, like calling her when he can and picking her up from school.

When she was younger, Corheinne admitted to resenting her father for not being around most of the time, especially during important moments in her life, like her graduation and her first day of college at the University of Santo Tomas, where she is now taking up Communication Arts.

But as she began to mature, she finally understood that her father was only working so hard for them, and so she has since become more appreciative of her father’s efforts.

“I learned to understand that he does what he does kasi he only wants the best for his family. Kasi even if Papa was not always around, he wasn’t entirely absent. He’d call immediately after the graduation rites. Or he’d send a text to say ‘good luck’ before an exam. Parang despite his absence, he always made a way to reach out,” Corheinne said.

Too often, we overlook all the things that our fathers do for us, and forget to give them the appreciation that they deserve, because we are used to them always being there. We must remember to pay attention to what they do for us and to say “thank you” every now and then to make them feel that they are appreciated.

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“Sana gabayan mo pa rin ako.”

Kristin Mae’s dad, Rico Cortez, passed away on June 17, 2010, but she still talks to him.

After being rushed to the hospital when they noticed that he was having difficulty breathing, the Cortez family found out that Rico was suffering from a severe case of brain haemorrhage.

“’Di ko alam kung may stages yon, pero ‘yung malala na daw. So parang all this time, nasa kanya lang ‘yon, ‘di ko alam kung alam niya o tinago niya lang, pero ayun, sinabi na helpless daw ‘yung case (I don’t know if it has stages, but it was a severe case. So all this time, he had that illness, and I don’t know if he knew or he hid it from us, but we were told that it was a helpless case),” Kristin said.

When her father departed, she was in her freshman year in high school. The loss affected her so deeply that she had difficulty paying attention and performing in class.

But with help from her family and relatives, she was able to move on, regaining her will to do academic tasks. Now, she is taking up Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas.

Aside from this, Kristin feels that her father continues to look out for her. One story that she shared was while she was doing academic work at a café, feeling stressed and burned out, a picture of her dad suddenly opened on her laptop. This was all the reassurance she needed to continue working.

“Gusto ko, ngayong Fathers’ Day, maramdaman ko ulit ‘yon, ma-feel ko na ‘di niya ko pababayaan (This Fathers’ Day, I want to feel that way again, to feel that he won’t neglect me),” Kristin said.

There is so much going on in the world today, and Millennials always find themselves busy with many things. It can get stressful and tiring, but it is comforting to know that we can always look to our fathers for encouragement and guidance.

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“I understand and  I forgive you.”

Ma. Katrina Angela Valbuena, a Mass Communication graduate from the University of the East-Caloocan, was left at the garage of the Valbuena household when she was just a baby. She never met her real parents, but found a father figure in her adoptive mother’s partner, Zoilo Luis Bautista.

Unfortunately, her mother and father’s relationship started falling apart when she was young and, later, Angela’s father was asked to leave the house, only to be tapped for financial help.

“If there’s something that I really miss about him, it’s that he can make me laugh. Because that’s something that rarely happens in this household, not many people in this family can make me laugh, but when it’s with dad? I don’t know, he always can,” Angela said.

Being a daddy’s girl, her mother and father’s separation affected Angela greatly, and she became angry and frustrated when there were times her father refused to shell out money for her tuition and other necessities.

After a few years, Angela was finally able to confront him during a family trip to Tacloban and there, she found out that her father could not give money before because he had his own health to look after.

“I’ve forgiven dad kasi ngayon, I’m much more mature, I was able to understand his side of the story, his point of view. He’s very misunderstood. But I’m glad I do, I do understand,” Angela said.

Our parents are among the first people we look up to, and so it is difficult for us when they commit mistakes and when we see their flaws. But we must remember that they are also human and that we, as their children, should try to understand our fathers’ viewpoints and forgive them for their mistakes.

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“I promise to pick up where you left.”

If Gian Roswell, a Mass Communication graduate from the Centro Escolar University, could pick one word to describe his father, it would be “industrious.”

Driven by the need to provide for his family, Roel Pelimer worked a number of jobs in food companies, often taking overnight shifts just to get the extra income.

Unfortunately, he became unemployed and had difficulty landing a job when he was in his 40s. This put a strain on his relationship, not only with Gian, but with the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Gian said his father was only being too hard on himself.

“It’s fine, really, kaya naman namin (we can handle it). He was unemployed for half a year, and it was okay. It didn’t hit us that hard. Parang it comes with his pride of being a father, he wants to badly provide for the family,” Gian said.

When his father finally got a job, he used his first salary to treat Gian and his mom to an eat-all-you-can buffet.

“He was his old happy self, he was the same man I looked up to. And all in one meal, it reminded me of how much I admired him and how much I wanted to take to heart ‘yung mga tinuro niya sa akin (what he taught me). It inspired me to take care of mom and the other people in the family, especially those who depend on him,” Gian said.

About a year after he was employed, his father passed away due to cardiac arrest. It came as a huge shock to his family and, for a month, Gian isolated himself from others.

“In the first place, dad was not around dun sa household. In a way, I just thought, for the early parts ng nangyari, I just imagined that dad was working hard, he was not in the house because he was working hard. I just took it off my mind,” Gian said.

With constant reassurance from family and relatives and bonding moments with his mom, Gian has been able to move on much faster, and has since taken his father’s place as the man of the house. He vows to keep his father’s memory alive, and to take care of his mom and the rest of their family.

Our fathers do everything that they can to provide for us and give us a good life, and sometimes they get pressured to deliver what is expected of them. We must remind them that it is okay to slow down and relax, and tell them that, when we are already capable, we will be the ones to give back to them.

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“Naniniwala ako na kaya mo.”

Patricia Bernadette, a Business Economics major from the University of Santo Tomas, never lived with her parents. She lived with her grandparents up to high school, and later, with her aunt.

Even in her earliest memories, her father, Robert Tan, always had problems with himself, with his family, with his wife, and many more. Patricia’s parents separated, and she admitted that Robert was unable to fulfill his role as a father to her.

“‘Yung struggle talaga growing up is ‘yung lagi ako tinatanong kung nasaan ‘yung father and mother ko. Laging iba-iba ‘yung sagot ko, pati family picture wala rin akong mapakita. Hindi ko rin ma-kwento kung ano nang nangyari sakanila, especially sa father ko kasi, aminado ako, nahihiya ako (The struggle I had growing up was I was always asked about my father and mother’s whereabouts. I always gave a different answer; I don’t even have a family picture to show. I can’t tell people what happened to them, especially to my father, because I admit, I was ashamed),” Patricia said.

It was difficult for her to watch her father struggle, and Patricia felt angry that she had to deal with her father’s issues. But in time and with Patricia’s constant encouragement, they became closer. The pain and anger she felt has now been replaced with motivation to excel so she can further help her father.

When asked about what Patricia wanted to tell her father, she said “Alam ko na gusto mo na rin magbago and magsimula ulit, lagi mo ‘yan sinasabi sa akin. Nandito lang ako lagi para suportahan ka kahit gaano katagal yun. Ikaw ‘yung isa sa mga inspiration ko para maging successful sa buhay (I know that you want to change and start over, you always tell me that. I’m always here to support you, no matter how long that takes. You are one of my inspirations to be successful in life).”

Sometimes we forget that our fathers suffer from difficulties and problems, too. They also get tired and frustrated, and it is very important to give them the same amount of reassurance and encouragement that they give us when we are feeling down.

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