In a taxi ride, I chanced upon a father. At an instant that he had recognized me as priest, he immediately shared his life-story to me. His story caught me dumbfounded and amused by his kind of fatherhood to his children. As a father, he supervises his four children by his lonesome. Yes, this father is a single father.
Let us call him Anton (not his real name). He started having a family when he was only 17 years old; his wife was 22 of age then. Anton tried very hard to make both ends meet for his family. He literally accepts every kind of job (decent ones). He knows no day-off for him to rest. He avoids any time-wasting activity. “Hindi ko alam kung anong ibig sabihin ng gimmick at bisyo, Father.” Anton proudly told me. “Sayang lang ng pera at oras eh,” he added. “I do everything for my children. I wanna give them everything.”
Some years back, Anton’s wife left him for somebody else. Devastated was an understatement to describe Anton then. He kept everything to himself. His whole family, including his four kids, had not known the real score. Anton told me: “Hindi ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko, Father.”….. “Hirap akong ibangon sarili ko.” …. “Pero, tuloy lang ako sa trabaho…. pero, minsan habang nagtratrabaho ako namamalayan ko na lang na tumutulo na pala luha ko!”
To make the story short, Anton’s four children are now into school. Two are in college. At age 37 now, he considers his four children as “parang barkada lang”. He proudly claimed, “Ako ang nagpapaaral sa kanilang lahat, Father!”… “Hindi ko pababayaan ang mga anak ko.”
I could not really explain and understand what was happening inside me while I was listening to Anton…. Ang daming hugot! With him, I was as if I was trekked in a lecture hall for a workshop on “Fatherhood 101”.
Let me quip some more here the tips on how to be a father according to the instant guru on fatherhood named Anton the Taxi Driver!
FATHER as PROVIDER: Anton provides through work- hard work! He works as tour guide on ordinary days. On lean season, he drives a taxi. At other times, he works as an electrician (on-call) to several hotels. Part of being a provider is his genius of saying “no” to anything that could deplete his resources, smoking and the like.
FATHER by EXAMPLE: At one point, Anton’s eldest son asked permission if he could drink with his friends. Anton told me that he did not say “yes” or “no”. What he told his son was: “Anak, nakita mo ba ako na umiinom?” ….. “Nakita mo ba ako na naninigarilyo?” Point taken. Need we say more how much power and influence in role modeling?
FATHER with TIME: Anton happily said: “Pag weekend, puno to ang taxi ko, Father!”… “Ako at ang apat kung mga anak, kasya kami rito.” …. “Para lang kaming magbabarkada.”…. “Wala silang pasok, ayaw ko rin mag work para may time kami together.”
FATHER of FORGIVENESS: Anton remains single from then on. Obviously, his life’s focus could only be his children. “Pinatawad ko na sila, Father.”….. “Mahirap ang may dala dala ng sama ng loob.” …. What Anton said further made me real smile. “…. Tsaka, parang nadala na ako, Father…. focus na lg talaga ako sa mga anak ko.”
FATHER who PRAYS: When we reached destination, instead of me just alighting his cab, Anton managed to park. He went inside the church and prayed. He told me: “Hindi ako bumibitaw sa Diyos, Father.” …. “Sa totoo lang, malakas ang devotion ko sa Santo Niño.”
You may be Tatay, … Papa,… Papang,… Daddy… but could you be also be the last man standing?
To all kinds of fathers: happy fathers, single fathers, spiritual fathers, grandfathers, fathers-in-law, etc…. Cheers!