My angel Papa | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

My angel Papa

My father was a carpenter. My mother was a barangay treasurer and is now a housewife. We lived with my grandmother until I was in Grade 5. Then we lived for two years in my aunt’s house. And finally, my father started to build our own house when I was in first year high school. Until now, it remains unfinished. And that’s okay.

A house is not a home without a family, but a home can be “built” without a house. We had good and bad times along the way. But at the end of the day, we are still a family. We had a hard life as a family but I, as the seventh child, did not feel that we were deprived of life’s comforts. I had a happy childhood.

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When my father was drunk, he would tickle us until we begged him to stop. I missed those days of bliss with my father.

My mother or father would wake me up at 5 a.m. every school day. They would boil water because my sister and I wouldn’t take a bath with cold water (that “sacrifice” of theirs lasted until I was in third year college). We would be at school before or at exactly 6 a.m. That’s how I became famous for being the most punctual in school, and was also awarded perfect in attendance from first to fourth year high school. All these because of my parents.

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I was a consistent first honor student from Grade 1 to Grade 5, but I was only a salutatorian when I was in Grade 6. I was afraid that my parents would be disappointed, but they were not. When I was in first year high school, I was only a second honor student. I did not tell my parents about our recognition day, but I was surprised when I saw my father in the event. I really felt the love of my father then, and I was wrong in not telling them. I was so immature. So I strove hard, and this paid off because I became first honor again from second to third year, and valedictorian and one of the most outstanding students in the whole of Bukidnon when I was in fourth year high school.

My father was always there with me. My mother could not come during my graduation in elementary, high school, and college. And I understood. I really expected that she would be present during my college graduation because I was graduating cum laude, but she was not. But it’s okay, Mama. “Basin sa akong kasal, si Papa ra japo’y naa”—that was my thought before.

When I graduated from high school, I was so excited at the thought of becoming independent. Although I dreaded the fact that there would be no more hot baths, I smelled freedom and independence. But that “freedom and independence” did not last long. It took me only one month to decide to go back home, shamefully telling my father that I couldn’t take the homesickness anymore. So my father went to the boarding house and told the landlady that I would be out by the end of the month because I was “sick.” My parents went back to boiling water for the “independent” girl. And I became a commuter.

There were times when my class would end at 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. I would be frightened to go home at that late hour, but was comforted by the fact that my father would wait for me by our bamboo gate. He would eat dinner with me at 11:30 p.m. We would eat silently. There were no “How’s school” or “How are you” conversations, but those were blissful moments nonetheless. My father was never a talker. For him, waiting at the gate for me was the sweetest thing a man could do for his princess.

Once, I was tasked to deliver a speech during the Tribute to Parents event at the College of Teacher Education. I was saddened to learn that my father would not be able to come because it was my younger sister’s high school graduation day. But when I was about to go up the stage, I saw my father with my sister beaming at me.

I was more than euphoric during my graduation day. I was able to fulfill the dream of making my Papa proud, and to have him put on me my medals as cum laude and as an outstanding university student awardee. I came from a small high school with only 70 graduates, but I was able to conquer college with flying colors.

I became a “vagabond” when I started working. I barely went home. I only hit the road when I missed home. But I knew that was part of growing up.

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I don’t want to write about sad things today. Maybe some other time. I know my Papa won’t be so happy if I think sad thoughts. I hope he would visit me in my dream today—or any day he would like to cook pansit for me.

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Zynara G. Sareno, 28, is a secondary school teacher at Bugcaon National High School, Lantapan, Bukidnon.

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