By Mia Lauchengco
There was a time when Raymond and I thought we could do without having kids. The day we found out I was pregnant with Natalie, we had a dinner to attend. When Raymond saw my pregnancy test results, he sat on his La-Z-Boy, and stared into space. We missed dinner.
By the time I took another pregnancy test a couple of years later, we were a lot more receptive to having another child, but still nervous about taking the leap. I took the test that morning, waited a few minutes, and when I saw that there wasn’t a second line, I told Raymond it was negative and forgot about it. Later that evening, as I fished something out from the drawer by the bathroom sink, there sat the same pregnancy test (which yaya had the good sense not to throw away), in all its two-lined glory. When I told Raymond, he lay down on the bed and stared into space.
For someone so shocked by the idea of fatherhood, Raymond eased into the role so effortlessly. While he refused to change diapers when the kids were born, he was (and still is) generous with his kisses and snuggles, carving out time during the day to just hold them close, and nap with them. Our kids are no longer babies, but they still squeal with delight when their Dada gathers them close for a cuddle before bedtime.
How much I love Dada
Nat, 13 years old
Dada is one of the best dads in the world…no, he is the best dad in the world AND the best friend I could ever have!
Some of the most fun times we’ve had were when Mama would have her workshops and Dada would take me (and, sometimes, Davey, too) to the mall. We would be there from about ten in the morning to three in the afternoon, spending our time in our favorite stores, Decathlon and Daiso, and having lunch in my favorite restaurant Tenya.
‘Grace Trips’, what we call our family trips when Dad had shows booked in the States or Canada, were special times. It would always give us happy memories. We started our own badminton tournaments on one of the trips, and I think I might be better than him now. I love my dad very much, and I hope he has an amazing Father’s Day.
Raymond with newborn Davey
Davey, 11 years old
I love Dada very much. He likes to hug me a lot and he hugs me every single morning, which makes me feel nice. He likes helping me a lot, like with my science project, so that things don’t feel very hard. He is a great dad, and he also makes very, very yummy food! He loves us a lot, and that makes me feel very happy.
Lost but found
I’m sure you will agree that these are the best and the worst of times. The pandemic has taken much away from all of us—in Raymond’s case, months’ worth of work disappeared within two days of lockdown, among other griefs—but it has also come bearing gifts. Instead of wallowing in sadness over what was lost, Raymond took time out to stare into space, and then he turned to art, processing his ideas and his feelings through pieces of wood, glass, clay, metal, and practically anything he could find to work on.
Sharing the process of creating a piece and its parallels to life turned out to be healing, not just for him, but apparently to others as well. The time spent cooped up at home was a dream for an introvert like Raymond (yes, he is an introvert, and very much so). He relished being home with the kids 24/7. I don’t think I have ever seen him happier or more relaxed than he was last year. He was, to put it simply, thriving. Slowly, it seems the live event industry is coming back to life, and Raymond has been singing and directing again. But I can already tell that the art is here to stay.
Daddy, my role model
It is my prayer that, should a time come that the kids find the things they have relied on to be unreliable, the jobs they depend on to be undependable, the people who have filled their lives suddenly gone, and that when the life they thought they knew how to navigate decides to throw them a curveball, they will think about their Dada. He took the time out to just stare into space, letting God hear his heart as it beat with fear and worry, and then got up and pressed on, remembering that these are but elements in a story with a happy ending, if you know where to look.
Raymond’s artworks can be viewed on the website. He conducts Zoom workshops under So True Naturals: The Gilt Trip (the art of gold leafing) and Unbroken (mindful mending using modern kintsugi techniques). More information can be found here.