A shift in business helped these fathers provide a better life for their family

Published June 19, 2021, 5:50 AM

by Noel Pabalate

It’s been a tough two years for many fathers whose work has been canceled due to the many community quarantines. Providing enough financial support for their family has been the main challenge for many. Not to mention, paying their debts. But a good father doesn’t just lie under a mango tree and wait for the fruit to fall.

Most fathers will always find a way to provide. But given the lockdown situation last year, some dads depended on the government’s ayuda. Others, in desperation, begged on the streets. But still, many are those who are resilient to think of better solutions. Here are two of them who climbed higher than ever to provide a better life for their loved ones.

Photographer turned delivery guy, Renjie Tolentino

From taking photos to transporting goods

Before the pandemic, Quezon City-based freelance photographer Renjie Tolentino was expecting to earn half a million income last summer of 2020. Unfortunately, his clients from corporate, events, advertising, and publication industries couldn’t do anything but cancel their bookings due to the lockdown. “Iniyakan ko yon. Meron na sana akong pang tuition sa mga anak ko, pambayad ng utang, at panggastos sa aming mga pangangailangan (I cried over it. I should already have funds for my kid’s tutions, payment for loans, and extras for the things we need),” Renjie recalls.

Two months stuck in the house without work, he became anxious about how he could provide for his family for the coming months. Thinking of ways to earn, Renjie remembered his friends Jhonnalyn Lenon and Christian Zoleta, owners of Zoleta and Lenon Inc., who are supplying products like chocolates, milk, and ice cream in supermarkets in the Luzon area. He tried his luck to offer his multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) to do the delivery of their products around Metro Manila. Even though his MPV can only accommodate fifty thousand worth of goods, he got the job.

Six months after providing quality service, his friends decided to extend his contract with a condition that he has to provide a bigger vehicle. Without thinking twice, he sold his MPV and bought a van. At present, he also does the transportation of the supplies outside Metro Manila, specifically in Batangas and Pampanga, giving him extra earnings. Renjie can’t be grateful enough that he has gotten a steady income even during off-peak season, where he’s only out three times a week.

Father of two teens, Kate, 13, and Kurt,16, Renjie can’t let unfortunate situations stop him from being a good provider. When not at work, he provides time and care for his children. Since his wife Joy, who is a government employee, regularly goes to the office, children are left under his watch most of the time.

Renjie Tolentino with wife Joy, son Kurt, and daughter Kate.

Given the situation, the 44-year-old dad forced himself to learn how to master cooking. Googling helped him a lot, but his mother, who according to him cooks very well, is his ever-reliable call-a-friend connection. Eventually, he became the kids’ favorite chef in the house.

“Minsan, mag-rerequest sila na ako na lang yung magluto kaysa sa mama nila (Sometimes, my kids will request for me to cook instead of their mama),” Renjie said. “Mas masarap daw kasi akong magluto. Hindi ko kasi tinitipid ang mga pampalasa, ‘di tulad ng misis ko, (They say that I cook tastier. I generously put in seasoning, unlike my wife).”

The self-confessed cool daddy thanks his children for appreciating his recipes. But Renjie is more thankful to them that they know how to value his and her wife’s sacrifices and hardship by doing good in school. “Hindi ko sila nakitaang nagpabaya ng pag-aaral kahit online lang. Kasi siguro nakikita nila ang pagod namin sa pagnanais na ibigay ang kanilang mga pangangailangan (I didn’t see them take for granted their studies even it’s online. Maybe because they saw our effort to provide them what they need),” the proud father shared.

For all the blessings, Renjie can’t thank God enough. Thus, he really sees to it that they always attend Sunday mass online. Also, he advises his children to always pray. “Life is really hard, but God, our father, is good. He will never abandon us,” said Renjie.

Singer turned gardener, Cata Badiable.

From playing the keyboard to planting ornamentals

Praying always to God is what Cata Badiable, 55, a resident of Bay Laguna, never forgets to advise his independent 21-year-old daughter Kat every time they have conversations over the phone. Because, according to him, prayer is what helped him overcome family problems—like the time when he ended his first marriage.

Aware of how much it has affected Kat, Cata regrets being an absentee father to Kat when he was still working as an overseas musician for several years. After many years, Cata started a new family. He married a single mother of a five-year-old boy then. Eventually, in 2017, they had a daughter who they named Ailisyah.

When Ailisyah was still a baby, Cata still went abroad to work in hotels as a vocalist and keyboardist of a duo band. When his contract ended, he went back to the Philippines not to rest but to do afternoon or evening gigs in hotels, resorts, and restaurants in Laguna every day. He also invested in sound system rentals and learned to plant and sell a few ornamentals to augment his earnings.

Cata Badiable with his daughter Ailisyah, wife Ailine, stepson Jhonas, and eldest daughter Kat (seated).

Although he had a good source of income, he still planned to go abroad while his daughter was still young. However, the pandemic became a reason for him not to become an absentee father again to Ailisyah who is turning five years old this year.

Unfortunately, the community quarantines ceased his work and the sound system business. Realizing that they can’t survive with the local government support alone, he invested all he had in gardening. With the help of his brother-in-law who is a certified plantito, he learned how to grow ornamentals like picara, fiddle-leaf, rubber tree, variegated bougainvillea, among others.

When his backyard garden at home can no longer accommodate his plants, he moved to a 200-square-meter lot along the highway at Calauan, Laguna and named his garden after Ailisyah. “Kumpara dati, mas marami akong naibebenta dito. Minsan, kumikita kami ng P7,000, o mas mataas pa kapag weekends, (Compared before, we sell more here. Sometimes, we earn P7,000 or even higher on weekends),” Cata said. “Sana nga dumami pa kita, lalo na ngayon na three months ng buntis ang asawa kong si Ailine (I hope we sell more, especially now that my wife Ailine is three months pregnant).”

Growing plants gave him more opportunity to have his own time. Thus, he had more time to bond with his daughter and stepson. They love playing word games and singing along together. Beyond that, Cata is glad that he was able to do things with Ailisyah that he has not done before with Kat, such as preparing her breakfast, dressing her after bath, and combing her hair.

For Cata, being a father is, without a doubt, a tough role, especially during these challenging times. “Kailangan mo mag-provide, kailangan mong umagapay at gumabay. Tulad ng Diyos, na atin ring ama, hindi niya tayo binabalewala (You need to provide, You need to care and guide. Just like God, who is also our father, He never takes us for granted),” Cata ended by sharing his thoughts on what fatherhood means to him now.