Fodder’s Day

Published June 20, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

While the word fodder is defined as food, especially as referring to dry hay or feed for cattle and livestock, it’s slang usage is saying something is fodder for a particular purpose – and what you really mean is that it’s useful for that purpose, and perhaps nothing else. When I was growing up, Father’s Day wasn’t much of a celebration in our family. My mother would joke that my Dad has it good already throughout the year, so why did we need a special day to “spoil” him. And to be brutally honest, more often than not, the traditional Filipino family has the mother as the bedrock, the foundation, of its family life.

Even when families enjoy dual incomes, the father can come home, believe he’s provided and retire to his man-cave, while the mother still has to make sure dinner is ready, the kids have done their homework, and the house is in running order. Tell me if I’m wrong, but that seemed to have been the general rule, even when the woman was as much a provider. So the father is more a symbolic head of the Filipino family, much like England’s royal family. Great for formal occasions and “where the buck stops,” but not that involved or of much use in the day-to-day family affairs.

Has this attitude changed or evolved through the years? I’d like to think fathers are more involved today, but honestly, I think that would also depend on individual choices, and socio-economic demographics. From what I observe, several families still have the father as some aloof, distanced figurehead, while the Mom holds the strings that bind the family together. While I may be castigated as a traitor to my gender, it’s what I notice; although I also see this thankfully changing – with more and more fathers actively participating in regular family life.

The Way We Were, that’s me, 3rd from the left.

Prior to Father’s Day, the SM SuperMoms Club was tapped for a survey, and I found some of the results enlightening, in view of the more than a yearlong community quarantine we’ve all had to endure. The first question had to do with food choices and what these moms knew about their husbands. Of 2,080 respondents, 37 percent said pizza would be the best thing to celebrate Father’s Day with; followed by pasta, barbeque, cake, inihaw, ice cream, fried chicken, crispy pata, and sisig. As for most popular food combo, the winner was pizza-bbq-crispy pata-beer.

More interesting was the question about newfound hobbies! With 1,078 respondents, 43 percent of the moms said dads had turned to cooking, with mobile gaming coming in second. Gardening, watching movies, and DIY home improvement rounded up the five most popular choices of dads in the newfound hobbies category. I laughed reading that watching movies actually turned up, as that meant with no cinemas open, the mobile gaming and movies replies meant dad was turning into a couch potato. Saving grace for these dads would be if they were actually getting off the sofas, to cook dinner, or garden!

And now comes the most intriguing answers; and do bear in mind that these are the moms being polled. When asked what would be the top gifts for dad this Father’s Day, 1,536 responded and 33.6 percent said underwear would make dads happy, followed by a smartphone. Other top choices included helmet/safety gear, motor parts, PS5 (Play Station), and a new bike.

The Way We Are (Minus One), missing my middle son who’s abroad, interning for his Hospitality degree. (Photo from Issa Litton)

Underwear? Now I know that women like their negligee and feminine underwear, so was wondering if this was some subtle form of transference, or just women making lazy replies and choices. Because I can’t vouch for the young dads of today, but I would have never said underwear over a smartphone or a new bike in my time, if asked what I thought was the ideal Father’s Day gift. Underwear we buy in bulk ourselves; or just say which brand and size we know works for us, and ask someone to purchase blindly.

So that answer came out of left field as far as I was concerned; and it made me think, so this is what the women who make up the SM SuperMoms Club can come up with as best gift choice for their husbands? Plus you know how what we often do is make the gifts look like they’re coming from the children? So how weird is that that my daughter is giving me underwear? I’m sorry, I just had to stop and laugh when I came across underwear. Guys, we really must be doing poorly, if that’s the best your wives can think of as a Father’s Day treat. Just saying…

Happy Father’s Day; and don’t look at me if your gift-wrapped token of appreciation is soft to the touch, or has a small hanger attached to it.