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A note on fathers

Tomorrow, we celebrate Father’s Day to honor all fathers. We celebrate it now the same day as the US does although past Philippine presidents had declared it on different dates. The fourth of the Ten Commandments instructs us to “Honor thy father and thy mother”. Adam was the first father who gave life to “good” Abel and “bad” Cain, who through the ages, gave birth to thousands of generations after. Most fathers don’t realize their crucial role in the growth and formation of their children as future fathers and members of society. And one of the goals of a father should be to leave a name that their children can be proud of. Their influence is so great that how they carry out their role as fathers can make or break not only their children but future generations as well. We also find that the environment where a father raises his children and the nurture he himself experienced as a child are major influencing factors.

My own father, Rafael, was a good father and a good provider who raised us in the best way he can. He was an entrepreneur by heart, steeped in courtesy and good manners. He had boundless optimism and was very idealistic, hence a disciplinarian. We, nine brothers in all, were under strict orders to speak in Spanish at all times and were expected to act in the best comportment. He was strict and stern and lively at the same time. He was a miner (of manganese) and held several business interests — lumber, sporting goods, gas stations, auto supply and a cattle ranch. His love for the arts was expressed in running a theater and radio broadcasting business. Later, with my uncle Nicanor Reyes, he also helped fund and establish the Far Eastern University. He lived by the ethical codes amor propio (self-respect or self-esteem), delicadeza (the right conduct when self-interest is involved) and palabra de honor (word of honor). (“Looking for Liling”, Alfredo Roces, 2000)

I became an artist and educator, not the brilliant and successful businessman that he was. But what I am now, I owe to his nurture and influence as a father. One father took good care of nine children and better than how nine sons took care of him as their father. How lucky we all are that our fathers were born before us. 

On this Father’s Day, I share a prayer that all fathers may be inspired to raise and train their children in a way that they will become good, responsible and godly citizens of the future. Then we can help make the world a better place to live in. 

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