A blessing named ‘father’

Through the years, and with the melding of cultures of the east and the west, a father has taken on more non-traditional roles. To his children, he’s become father and mother, brother and sister, playmate and competitor, provider and teacher, cook and taste-tester, life coach and friend. Sometimes he is at the “driver’s seat” of a family’s journey. Other times, he is the passenger and back-seat driver.
In any role, to his children, a father is just “tatay,” “daddy,” or “papa” — no matter if he is a CEO, or staff member of a company, if he is an elected official, or the barangay kagawad of a city, or if he is breadwinner or house-husband.

With Father’s Day just days away, it’s a time to celebrate the many roles of a father — biological or figurative — in our lives. Was he the bread-winner who provided for all the family’s needs, including tuition for graduate studies? The disciplinarian who limited one’s social life? Or the soft heart who over-ruled a strict mother’s rules? The hero who secretly “corrected” many wrong decisions? Or was he the family driver-on-call 24/7?

With a father’s many roles, one would expect him to be everywhere, including on social media. But today, it is not typical to read captions like — “He’s my father!” — declared openly in a social media account, or displayed by affection in a public place. Except on Father's Day. It’s as if a father steps out of the picture when a child’s career takes over.

But a father will never leave the “picture” even of an adult child’s life; he will likely hover around. It is said that a father’s instinct to nurture and protect a child never goes away. In the extended Filipino family, it is an instinct also shared by father-figures like grandfathers, uncles or friends who have fulfilled a father’s role because of circumstances.

In Europe, the United States, and many countries around the world, the significance of fathers in people’s lives is celebrated every third Sunday of June.

In the Philippines, President Corazon C. Aquino signed on June 8, 1988, Proclamation No. 266 declaring every third Sunday of June as Father’s Day in the Philippines. (The same proclamation also declared every second Sunday of May as “Mother’s Day.”) That date had remained as Father’s Day even after another proclamation signed by President Joseph Estrada in 1998 had declared “the first Monday of December as ‘Mother’s Day’ and Father’s Day,” to return the traditional celebration on the date declared by a proclamation in 1921.

The “mother” of Father’s Day is a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, who initiated the celebration of the day inspired by her father who raised six children after their mother died in childbirth, according to reports from history publications. The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, the month of the birthday of Dodd’s father.

Sunday, June 19, is Father’s Day. There is time to write a tribute or greeting to the man who had helped develop the way you think and live today. If he’s not around, say a prayer. A father in one’s life is a blessing.