This pandemic has kept Daddy home—and we love it

Published June 19, 2021, 9:00 PM

by AA Patawaran

For these kids, spending more time with their fathers is among the many silver linings to this COVID-19 cloud

CHILDREN AND THEIR DADS Clockwise from top left: Nikki and Anton Huang, Bob Aquino and Marta, Dr. Z Teo and Ken Z, Nicole de los Reyes and Donnie Tantoco, Erika Dee and Riki Dee, Mateo Nograles and Karlo Nograles, and Kerry Tinga and Freddie Tinga

I grew up at a time parenthood was mostly distant authority. My father was almost never home or, if he was, he had his nose buried in some kind of reading material, whether a newspaper, a magazine, or a novel, working on his accounting books, entertaining guests, or sleeping. Still my father had been a big presence in my life, especially as he left too early, when I was barley out of my teens. Until then, every moment spent with him was a special occasion. He would take my siblings and me out to restaurants, get us treats, from special chocolates to puppies, or bring us to the movies, during which we would hang on his every word, trying our best to get a glimpse of his world that to us, his children, seemed so much larger, like the movies and the books he loved. 

For today’s kids, apparently, the same is true, although fathers are now generally more present and more participative in the raising of children. Like everybody else, for the most part of the past one and half years, fathers too have been cooped up at home—and, despite all the disruptions of the pandemic, especially in the area of their education, the kids are all the richer for it.

Let’s find out from these sons and daughters what it has been like going through this pandemic with their fathers by their side.

Nikki Huang on her dad Anton Huang

LOVING DAUGHTERS Nikki and Belle with their dad, Anton Huang in the middle

While the pandemic has by no means made for a wonderful year for anyone, one of the greatest joys it did bring about for our family was that my dad was unable to travel. Usually, he is out of the country for half a month every month. But travel restrictions have made it such that my father has spent the longest uninterrupted stretch of time at home, with his family day in and day out, in many years. During this time, I have watched him handle one crisis after another with an unending amount of grit, resilience, and willpower. As I always say, one of his greatest attributes is that he has not only a plan B, but a Plan C and D in store. I have witnessed the pandemic throw one challenge after another at my father, filling his cup to the brim with crises and emergencies from which it seems almost impossible to rise up. And yet, time and time again, he manages to find a solution. My dad is everything you could want in a man: dutiful son, loyal husband, doting father, fearless leader. I look to him to keep my world together when it seems like everything is falling apart, and he manages every single time. He has taught me, over the course of the pandemic, that when the going gets tough, you trudge on and stay tougher. You look for ways to adapt, you think of the big picture, you hold out and hold on, and you make it through. What more could I ask for? 

Love you dad!

Marta Aquino on her dad Bobby Aquino

DADDY’S GIRL Marta Aquino and Bobby Aquino

My relationship with my dad has remained strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Before, our dates would be spent out at malls, eating our favorite food and going shopping. Now, we have tried new activities to adjust to the restrictions like exercising outdoors, having mealtimes together, doing Bible studies, talking about life, watching movies, and playing Mahjong. Because of our consistent biking and walking sessions together, not only have we gotten to bond through these activities, but we’ve seen our overall health conditions improve.

During meals, I find it so wonderful being able to dine with him. We can talk about our day, share what we have been learning at school or work, or even exchange our views on the current situation our world is in.

Every week, my dad ensures our family has Bible studies to reflect the word of God. I am thankful my dad is a good leader, always directing my family to God no matter what season we are in. A benefit of being the daughter of a life coach is that I have free consultations with him. Whenever I have a difficult life question or problem, I go to him. He knows how to listen and direct me to the answer I need. He also encourages me to make the most of all the opportunities I have, and continue to do my best at school and in my other responsibilities.

When my dad and I want to rest and get our minds off our responsibilities, we resort to watching movies––usually thrillers, comedies, or tearjerkers––or playing Mahjong with the rest of my family members. Besides trying to beat each other in the game, we have fun through the inside jokes we have established.

I am grateful that even during this stormy season, there is a break in the clouds, which is getting to see my dad more often.

Here is to the second Father’s Day during this lockdown. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, but most especially to mine.

Kerry Tinga on her dad Freddie Tinga

TINGA THE PAST Kerry and Kylie with their dad, Freddie Tinga in the middle

Through the walls, I can hear my father’s voice in the middle of a Zoom call. Over lunch, often eaten together, he furiously types on his computer to get work done.

The pandemic has confined our lives to the walls of our homes, our social circles reduced to our immediate households, give or take social media. All this and more I would complain and moan about to friends over Messenger.

But it was an insular way of looking at things. The one thing we can gain through this pandemic experience is deeper empathy. That is something my father taught me, not through his words but through his actions.

Over the past year, I have gotten to see—and hear—a lot of my father, particularly during the workday. I have gotten to understand a different side of my father, all the sides of him beyond family, in times he isn’t being my father.

He works diligently. He always pushes himself to find ways to give back to the community creatively. He inspires those who work with him to find strength during these unprecedented times. And through all that, he inspires me.

Erika Dee on her dad Rikki Dee

DEE DAY Erika Dee on her dad Rikki Dee

The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone and really challenged a lot of businesses. I’ve seen my father as an entrepreneur weather the storm in the best way he can while making sure that his family is safe and protected. He’s been our rock throughout these unprecedented times. I feel extremely blessed to be reassured and safeguarded by him.  I know times aren’t ideal now but he makes sure to always put our health and happiness as his top priority. I’m also lucky to always be at home with him. I get to spend every day with him, even sleeping in the same room as my parents. We have longer conversations, do Netflix marathons together, occasionally sneak out to the fridge for midnight snacks and spend weekends on the beach. In the past, everyone in the household would have their own plans. The only time everyone would be at home at the same time would be on Sundays. Everyone was always busy and out but we always managed to allot time to spend together. Our family would schedule lunch or dinner dates and we loved to travel and spend quality time together. As we adjusted to the work at home set up, we were pushed to really spend every waking moment together. It turns out, this is pretty ideal for us since we do love to be together all the time. In the pandemic, I am thankful for the shared laughs, experiences, and weight gain that I get to have with my dad. It’s given me a new appreciation for family time (and has definitely made me a little clingier). As for now, I’m just treasuring all the time I get to spend with my dad.

Mateo Nograles on his dad Karlo Nograles

BEST MATE Mateo and dad Karlo Nograles

This past year has been an unending loop. I have been sleeping in the same bed, eating at the same table, and sitting on the same chairs every day. Life has been mundane and sometimes I don’t even want to get out of bed. But that’s when I think of someone who is stuck in this loop with me, my dad. Whenever I feel tired or miserable, I always look back at the endless meetings and interviews that my dad has to endure. He has to work so hard and yet he still manages to smile and be a source of joy. He inspires me to get up and live my day with a smile. He is always trying to get involved in our lives by asking me about school and work, or watching NBA with my brother, or joking around with my sister. No matter how hard he works, he is always there to guide us and be someone we can rely on. He is our rock that anchors us against the tide of this pandemic, and I feel so blessed that I get to spend more time with him because of this lockdown. I have learned so much about myself and life in general from our daily conversations, and I am so grateful of all the moments in this quarantine I get to spend with him. This Father’s Day has given me a chance to give back to my dad and say thank you for all of those times I just needed someone to talk to. I hope all of you reading this right now can do the same for your fathers by showing them how much you appreciate them. We love you dads, have a great Father’s Day.

KenZ Teo on his dad Dr. Z Teo

Z DUO Dr. Z Teo and son Ken Z

Ever since COVID made life a little harder for everyone, my parents and I have been able to spend more time with each other as a family because everybody has to stay inside for safety. I really consider myself blessed for that. Even though my dad is a busy man, he tries to take time off his schedule to bond with me and my siblings.

Before the virus, my family and I would go on trips out of the country and that was how we would usually have fun, but since kids like me aren’t able to go outside now, we take to board games inside of our home. I personally enjoy all the food that my dad has been cooking since the very start of the ECQ. I also enjoy how my dad gets to work from home. I know sometimes he gets a little tired from working, so being able to cheer him up at home makes me happy.

Now that things are starting to go back to normal with all of the vaccines being given, my dad and I usually bond on the weekends, and before he goes to work. We play board games, walk the dogs, swim in our pool, and do other things to have fun. Sometimes, we even go on short car rides to the grocery, but I would just stay inside the car. To me, it doesn’t really matter what my dad and I are doing, because I know we will always have fun no matter the circumstance.

I hope that things get back to normal again soon, so that my family and I are able to spend time with each other more, like travelling and eating out at restaurants. My dad is a really amazing person, and I know what he does isn’t easy. I look up to him a lot, and I am thankful that he makes time for me and my siblings.

Nicole de los Reyes on her dad Donnie Tantoco

FAMILY FIRST Donnie Tantoco, his grandchild baby Gianna Noelle, and daughter Nicole de los Reyes

Even before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time with my dad. We are very close and we also work together. He became a grandfather and I got to witness how powerful his “maternal instincts” were (We would joke that he was a natural at mothering, since he was so comfortable holding an infant). He would visit us as often as he could and rock my daughter in his arms, singing to her.

The first year of the pandemic wasn’t easy for him as a new grandparent. We went from enjoying weekly visits to not being able to see each other for months. Babies have a way of bringing people together though. The moment the first MECQ was lifted, come hell or high water, he came to visit us. My daughter didn’t remember him anymore. It took him time to win her over again. Now, when she sees him, she is the one who gets gigil.

When you are a parent to a toddler, you appreciate your own parents so much more, mostly because you find yourself leaning on them again. It really takes a village to raise a child. It’s now the second year of the pandemic, and we’ve survived working from home by spending one day a week at my parents’ house.

My toddler constantly demands my attention, and it hurts her feelings when mommy would rather be on the computer than play with her. Luckily, my dad is there. Instead of resting, he takes time between his meetings to entertain her. I see him sitting on the floor with her, following her everywhere she wants to go, and exploring the world through her eyes. I watch the two of them and know that in those moments, my daughter feels so complete and loved. Having grown up like that, I know exactly how that feels.