Father’s Day is a lifetime event
Every Father’s Day, I prayerfully remember not only my father but also my mother. For both of them inspired me and molded me into what I am now, which neither one of them could have done without the other. Shakespeare said, “The tree may be known by the fruit, as the fruit by the tree” (Henry IV, Part 1, Act 4, Scene 2). This echoes the biblical words, “For each tree is known by its own fruit…” (St. Luke 6:44)
I am one of the two sons of poor but pious parents—the late Rogelio Espiritu Tamayo Sr. and Teresita Cuntapay Balisi. My father did not finish college because of poverty. Also, my mother could only finish a vocational course, again because of poverty. I say ours is a generational poverty because my grandparents were poor, too. However, to be in a poor home with pious parents was a blessing.
When I ran for the Senate in 2010, I saw campaign materials of candidates with pictures of their famous fathers and mothers in the background, ostensibly endorsing the candidacies of their sons and daughters. I did not have similar campaign materials, not because of funding constraints but because my parents are not famous and prominent in society. Funny, but I just imagined myself having a picture of my father raising my hand, endorsing my candidacy.
My father worked as a clerk. He accepted typing jobs in a logging company. He joined the ranks of the unemployed when logging was banned in Cagayan province.
My mother was a gasoline girl. Once when I was in second year high school, my mother asked me to teach her how to write numbers from 1 to 1,000, how to use a calculator, how to fill up an official receipt, and how to add numbers with decimal points. I told my father about it. My father and I painstakingly taught her these things for many nights. I saw joy in the eyes of my mother when she learned them well.
My parents may not have the aristocracy of the learned, but they had the humility in their hearts, which I am dearly proud of.
I vividly recall when my parents and I had to watch over the house of the boss of my mother. There were times when mother’s boss and his family had to leave for Manila. My mother always admonished me not to touch anything inside the mansion while she and my father mopped the floor, cleaned the windowpanes, changed curtains and the like. I usually helped them clean the mansion while taking envious looks at the displayed, expensive and dazzling toys of the sons of my mother’s boss. I also remember my father to have pawned their wedding rings because I didn’t have a fare going back to UP Diliman from Aparri. It was good I had my uncle, UP history professor Wilfredo E. Tamayo (now deceased), to lean on during those trying times when I was completing my AB Philosophy.
I also remember the day my father took me to Tuguegarao to visit his parents. I was comfortably seated beside him inside the bus. Suddenly, unceremoniously, he asked me to vacate our seats as new passengers came on board. From the town Lal-lo to Tuguegarao City, for almost two hours, my father and I remained standing inside the bus. When we got off the bus, I heard the conductor saying, “Pasensya pare, ha. Marami kasing pasahero.” Hearing this, I understood that my father did not have money for our fare and had asked for a free ride for both of us.
When I was asked to prove my teaching skills in a teaching demonstration at the Lyceum of Aparri, I did not have a short polo barong and leather shoes. My mother borrowed a loose barong Tagalog from a neighbor, and I was forced to use the shoes of my father. I looked like a clown when I gave a “test lecture” before the academic deans and priest-administrators. When I got the teaching job, my father gifted me with a belt as a gesture of his appreciation of my “accomplishment” and as a way of “patting my back.” I still use this old belt whenever I miss my father.
When the Department of Interior and Local Government requested me to lecture about legislation and parliamentary procedures before barangay officials, my father, who was then a barangay captain, was in the audience. I asked him to go up the stage and I introduced him to the provincial directors and other dignitaries. He was beaming with pride as he asked the photographer to take a picture of us.
When I was appointed dean of Liberal Arts and dean of Student Affairs, I gave my parents a “tour” of our school, the Lyceum of Aparri and the municipal hall, introducing them to people from both the school and local government. But personally those tours were nothing compared to the “tour” they gave me through the ways of humility and where they introduced me to God. From them, I learned how to pray the rosary and novena every day. From them, I learned the value of hard work and honesty. From them, I learned to bend my knees in prayer.
Reginald B. Tamayo is acting assistant secretary of the Marikina city council.
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