Teacher Eric A. Alarcon bares the challenges of being a single dad
Based on a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines has more than 15 million single parents. This has led to the implementation of Republic Act 8972, also known as “Solo Parents Act of 2000,” which aims to help and protect solo parents.
With this reported number and this law, it’s easy to assume that solo parents are protected and treated equally, but a widow dad says otherwise. In an exclusive interview with the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Physical Education (P.E.) teacher named Eric A. Alarcon shares his experience as a single dad. His wife died in a car accident last November 26, 2014, just a few months after she gave birth to their child in January 21, 2014.
The dark night
“It’s been six years but everything is still clear in my memory,” he reminisces. “I was tasked to coach a certain event that separated me from my wife and newborn baby for a month. And then, the accident happened, when I was lying on my bed at our coach quarters, my phone rang and somebody called me—a strange voice saying that my wife is in the hospital and that she was involved in a vehicular accident.”
Thinking that it was just a prank, Eric still went to the hospital and that was when reality hit him. “Everything happened so fast,” he says. “She hugged me. Then suddenly all the doctors came to her and tried to revive her. After that she, was in the state of comma. On that same day, she died.”
Without his wife, Eric was left with a newborn baby to raise on his own. Since then, aside from working as a teacher he juggles different jobs to make sure he is able to provide for his son’s needs.
As a dad and a mom
“I’m working as a P.E. teacher/fitness dance instructor/choreographer/events coordinator/real estate agent/car dealer agent/entrepreneur,” he says. “In short, maraming pinasok para mabuhay ang anak (I’m working different jobs to support my son).”
On top of juggling several jobs while raising a child and grieving for his wife, Eric also needs to deal with societal judgement. “The toughest part of being a single parent is raising your child alone with the threat of discrimination and bullying,” he says. “My son, Clyden Evo, gets bullied at school because he doesn’t have a mom.”
He always patiently explains to Clyden their situation. And his efforts to fill in the role of a loving mom and dependable father creates a special bond between him and his child. “I have a good relationship with my kid since he is all I have. We’re like brothers. Every night, we talk and share what happened during day,” he says. “But I also have to balance things on not to be too stiff in disciplining him. I also read books on how to handle kids and talk to my peers who are in same situation.”
Eric then shares important lessons he has learned from all of this experiences. “Spend time with our loved one as if it’s our last chance, because we will never know when they will be gone,” he says. “And all the challenges that we experience, we can handle it with the guidance from the God. Look at it with positive disposition, combined with sincere prayers.”