Back in sophomore year in high school, I , having wanted the limelight, naively joined this Filipino extemporaneous speech contest. My mom was lightly excited. I was light-headed and lost. I didn’t know how to prepare. All I knew was I just had to sound knowledgeable. But my dad was far more prepared than I was. He was in glee of the fact that I would take on some intellectual challenge. Despite working abroad, he took time teaching me something. He reminded me three things: the past, the present, and the future. He had to elaborate these by email as to how they would be core in speeches. He said that in every topic, it won’t be that difficult to discuss it if one would opt for the past, the present, and the future, and never dwindle on “everything” as this might destroy one’s piece. Surprisingly, after picking some random topics, everything was so clear, smooth, and light to me. This was the time I found out I could actually speak and never stutter. This was the time I started building myself, with some renewed confidence. I started defining myself during this time.
This was when I realized my dad was definitely reliable and dependable. But later I realized, up until now, he is some propelling instrument that had brought me where I am right now. The simplest piece of advice just made me contemplate on who my dad is in my life. And I believe this is how dads should act. They essentially work out lives this way. And there are some small things that would suffice my impression of my dad.
He brought out the leader in me.
Right from the start, he believed in me. He never thought I was less. I was more to him despite the apparent lack or need for improvement. He never disparaged me in any way. At times, I would fear so many circumstances and even opportunities. He taught me to dream big. Every time we would talk, I could sense that there is some gentleman’s conversation between us. Our topics would run from different sensible ones to the least appealing to him, yet still making some issues out of them. He made me feel that I could just step in and start something. And because of this, I became a leader.
I was once part of the student council of my school. I became president of the class. I would always initiate everything wherever I was. I would direct a play, begin school projects, and speak in front of the class. I was once part of the college council and the president of my program organization. I was working without the desire of anything in exchange. I was there just moving just with the goal of fulfilling something because I always believed in myself. I even thought I was the best. Up until today, I still have that fire in me, though just in a progressively mature package, and that I owe to my dad.
He taught me how to read maps.
When I started my freshman year in one university in Manila, and with the concern that his youngest son has been babied all these years, he made me read the Metro Manila Altas. It was a book with all sets of maps of different areas. “The thick, yellow line would be the whole stretch of EDSA and the MRT line,” he said. And I learned that this single, yellow line would be the vantage point of all passages in the whole metro. He told me that the numbers and letters correspond to the continuation of the map. He made me see that Manila was marvelously big, yet comprehensible.
Because of this skill, which some say that only men have (some women can read maps though), I felt I could conquer everywhere. From that moment on, I was never scared of getting elsewhere in the city. I thought that the world is such a big place to travel, at times frightening. But people, including myself, are always capable to go places. And what he has been telling me about reaching places made all sense when he gave me his Atlas.
He said there is no way I would lose my way.
While I was about to start my first year in college, he told me one thing very obvious and common to believe, that all jeepneys just go around and never get out of their routes. This simplest idea aided me in going to places. I never had to take the cab and spend a lot when I didn’t have enough of my monthly allowance. In reality, this remains true because if we keep going further and farther, for as long as we know where we are coming from, we would never lose our way. Success is grounded on this idea. For as long as we know who we are, we would always head somewhere we desire.
He told me that a war is composed of battles.
He had said this in reflection to how people take lost opportunities. He said that in the whole span of anybody’s life, there will always be battles, big or small. Now, it’s our choice to take them big or small. It’s up to us whether we continue, we settle, or we just end things. And it’s up to us to accept that we have weaknesses and strengths, and that these weaknesses should never be a shame, that strengths are to be grounded, unperturbed, unshaken, and lived.
He made me realize he has always been my hero.
Despite my being a kid after breaking my grandmom’s golden clock and then angering my mom, despite being thought as less appealing to my aunts because of being a bit distant, and despite some of my potential mishaps, he was just there by my side, never going elsewhere. He didn’t want me getting hurt, maligned, despised, or angered. He didn’t want me to feel accused despite my innocence of what was going on because he knew I was a kid, and I will always be one because I will continuously learn from world’s circus play. He just didn’t want me to feel left behind because he was being a dad, one that each would need. And I more than fortunate because I have a hero, never failing to be one, and in the years to come. And with this in mind, I know I can always lead my life however I want because I have put in mind that I will always have him for more challenges and un-thought circumstances.
And today, I am still convinced that he is still that dad and forever will be for as long as I see the world blurry and confusing.
I may have had some implicit misunderstandings, and unintentional hurting with him, I know and believe that he has always been my dad, enough for me to face the world. Calling him the best is understatement since it would remain a cliche to everyone. Rather, I say, he is just the right dad for me more than anybody can assert.