I was in first grade. It was the day for voting the class officers, and the first time for me to experience democracy in the class setting.
“What if I want to become class president?” I asked my dad. My eldest sister scoffed at me; the fact that I was interested at all in the top position seemed weird and too ambitious for her.
My dad replied with an anecdote in his life, which honestly I can no longer remember. But the lesson of it was clear to me as day: “Ask for help,” he said. “Be honest and ask for someone’s vote.”
My elder sisters shuddered at the idea. Going to the same school and having gone through more class elections than I had assured them that being honest about your desire to be class president won’t garner you coolness points.
But I followed my father anyway. The next day, in school, I whispered to the girl seated next to me: “If it’s all right with you, will you vote for me? I really want to be class president.” She shrugged, and nonchalantly said yes.
At the end of the election, I was the lone nominee for class president. I won. From then on, I knew it would always be wise to follow my father.
Well, that was the plan.
Of course, I grew up. And while in high school it was easy to follow my father/parents, college presented me with just too many choices. My personality and my character started coming out of the shadows, and from a fuzzy silhouette I transformed into a brave, outgoing, strong-willed young woman. I was, after all, my father’s daughter. I was drawn to activism, which my family strongly opposed. But I pursued it anyway. I didn’t want to follow my father anymore. I faced him head-on. And I relied no longer on his words. I had Marx, Mao Zedong and Lenin. I thought it wiser to follow them.
That became my plan.
Those were tumultuous years, I must say. But my father never failed to understand. He struggled with it, yes. He got angry with me, yes. He played “bad cop,” yes. But among the many thoughts and ideologies swimming in my head, his voice never seemed to drown out.
To cut the story short, I came back to my family. I entered law school and I started listening to my father again. I cried to him like a baby in the many instances that law school gnawed at my hopes and dreams of finishing it. He still comes to my rescue whenever I get myself into a quagmire of problems. Even while he fights a sickness like cancer, we largely rely on him even when he is supposed to be relying on us. He fights every unsettling feeling that his sickness gives him. He maintains his job despite the roller-coaster that is his health. He provides for all of us, his children, and manages to carry in his heart our every grievance, whine and problem. He bears the family on his shoulders and watches over us, while we have our late night-outs, our dates with our boyfriends, our out-of-towns with friends, our own work schedules—mostly our own lives. He’s got everything covered, from sending me one bar question every day to help me with law school, to reminding us to take our vitamins although we are all adults, to teaching us the nuances of running a family business, to saving or even playing in the stock market, to taking us out to breakfast every weekend just to be able to spend time with us.
Even without the words, he is the one person who personifies faith and who taught me the complete meaning of trusting in God. By his sheer faith that he will overcome his condition, I still have every bit of a father with me, and I relish having a complete support system at home, his sound advice, his protection and provision.
And even with that, I still defy him once in a while, and like a heartless, unfeeling wretch, I find the gall to still disappoint him at times. But I do listen.
Many years ago, when I was still in high school, I was sitting in front of the computer doing my assignments. My father came home, newspaper in hand, and showed me a Mother’s Day article. “Read this,” he said. “This is the way to honor your mother.” I read the article and indeed it was very touching. It had the lyrics of the song “Wind Beneath my Wings” in it. Years later, I wrote my mother an opinion article for Mother’s Day, honoring her. It got published and I felt a sense of accomplishment. I’ve done what my father said, I told myself.
So today, I write about my father in the way he believes a parent is to be honored, to give tribute to the beauty of his unwavering love, his words, advice and anecdotes enough to guide me in every situation I face for the rest of my life.
That is the plan.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. For all the pain I have caused you, my love and respect for you overflow.
Marian Kris B. Santos, 27, is a paralegal at Home Guaranty Corp. and a student at San Beda College of Law.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.