12 Things About my Dad
At right is our family picture when I was the 'only girl', (peace, Jo and Maritz :) before my two younger sisters were delivered by a stork :)
1. We call him Tatay. He liked it that way.
Tatay is a Tagalog word for Dad, you've guessed that right. When I was young, I asked Tatay why other kids call their dad Daddy or Papa. My knowledgeable mom or Nanay as we called her, answered for him, "Because I believe only rich people should call their Tatay Dad or Papa". That's a stereotype attitude, an offshoot of colonial mentality - only rich people speak English. So whether Tatay would like to be called Daddy, Papa or Tatay is out of the question.. Nanay liked it that way, he liked it that way too. Did I say that sometimes he's a henpecked husband?
2. He assured me I was so "guapa guapa gid" (very pretty) when I was a young girl as people compared my looks to my mom who was a beauty.
I always felt insecure with my looks. I hear friends and relatives telling each other I don't look like my parents at all. They say Nanay has dark 'Turkish' looks. Don't ask me how this is possible. Tatay is a "small American", as his mom, my grandmother, lovingly described him. He was very fair, until he became so tanned from years of riding his motorbike.
|Tatay (Right) with a friend|
|He loved and was so proud of his 'American Legion uniform'.|
3. He was so proud of all of us.
He'd tell his friends all of our accomplishments, big or small.
Nanay always related to us how Tatay would brag about us with his friends and relatives. Our accomplishments are feathers to his cap.
4. He loved to tell jokes, and laughed at his own jokes.
There were times he was not able to finish telling his jokes, he'd be overcome with laughter and his audience would laugh with him and at him because it's funny how he'd guffaw and shook with laughter with his own jokes.
5. He loved being a politician (a small time politician, from Barangay Kagawad or Councilor to becoming a Barrio Captain).
He loved giving looooong speeches during school graduations, barrio fiestas, etc. People were so conditioned of him giving very long speeches that seeing him on stage and hearing his voice would trigger instant sleepiness.
|Tatay as the guest speaker in a Graduation Ceremony|
6. He made me feel I was his favorite child, then later I found out each one of us, especially the daughters, felt that way too.
It's strange how he did this, he did not tell me I was his favorite child, but I always though he treated me more favorably than the others......until my sisters told me they thought they were more favored too.
At right is Tatay and our youngest sister, Maritz.
7. His best facial feature were his eyes.
They were light brown and when he'd look at women, my mother said that it made each woman feel she's so special. His eyes turned reddish brown when he was angry, so Nanay knew he was angry even if he did not say anything.
8. He's a good street boxer, he'd fight with anyone, even those who were bigger than him when he knew he was wronged.
I remember a neighbor who after years of secret jealousy of my dad, went amok and fired shots at our house when he was so drunk. Tatay had me and Nanay hide. He did not fire back even when he had his own gun. The next day, when the neighbor was sober and walking towards his house, Tatay confronted him on the street. Tatay confiscated the neighbor's gun as he had no permit to carry deadly weapons. He then challenged the neighbor to a fist fight. The
9. He had several guns. He had license to own and carry weapons even though he was a civilian.
I think he was able to justify the possession of deadly weapons because he went to the bank in the city every week to give salaries to the hacienda laborers. He used to be the hacienda bookkeeper. The arrogant neighbor mentioned above was the hacienda administrator.
10. He was slim all his life.
My sisters and he borrowed each other's jeans when my sisters were teenagers. I was not able to enjoy that because I studied in the city (Manila) and they were in the province.
11. He had a very solid voice and although he was short, about 5'2'', his voice could be heard 200 meters away in all directions if he felt up to it.
Everyone of us inherited that solid voice. Translation: Be careful not to piss us off, we could shout very very loud.
12. He taught us to be very courageous, to stand up to what is right and to protect and take the side of the underdogs.
In the times when I was emotionally and physically challenged, I would say to myself, "I could do this, I am Mating's daughter, I am brave, I am strong". BTW, my father's name is Matias, his nickname is Mating.
Tatay died in 2003, while I was working in Saudi Arabia. I could not go home. My employers in Saudi Arabia did not think that sickness and death in the family was a good reason for taking a leave to go home before the contract is over. Tatay got sick and was bedridden for a month. He had all these tubes in his body and he kept disconnecting them. He said that he'd rather die than be dependent on tubes for his life. My sisters had to hire two able-bodied young men to keep him from disconnecting all these tubes. Mercifully, he did not suffer long. I regret being not able to tell him how I love him, how I appreciate him taking care of all of us. I thought that the money and gifts I sent them were enough, were understood as my gesture of love and appreciation. I was 'macho' like Tatay, who could not say I love you to parents, sisters brothers, relatives and friends.
Why is it so hard to express our loving feelings. If we are angry, most us us don't mince words to say I hate you. Why is hard to say I love you. Why is it hard to verbalize the appreciation for each other.
Before my time is over (that would be a looong long time yet), I would like to say to all of you, my loved ones, my friends, my relatives, my followers on this blog, I appreciate how you value me, I like how you make me feel important, I love your presence in my life, I love that you give some time for me even with your busy schedules, I LOVE YOU.
Fathers, how do you raise strong children? This is a book for you, and to friends and loved ones of fathers, this is a great gift for fathers:
To encourage and guide men in becoming the dads they want to be, Michael Farris addresses issues common in all families with daughters: friends, dating, personal appearance, and preparing for the roles she’ll have as a woman. Michael Farris challenges fathers to take their unique opportunity to train daughters for life’s challenges—in ways that only a dad can. Originally published as How a Man Prepares His Daughters for Life, it now includes new material on relating to an adult daughter.