Dadpool: An Everyday Hero

COUNTER FLOW - James Deakin - The Philippine Star

A couple of weeks back, I posted a shout out on my Facebook page asking folks to nominate their fathers for a special treat we had cooked up at Drive. The idea was simple; although I couldn’t really share it back then, we just wanted to find a dad out there that was a bonafide car nut but who was never able to live out that passion because of, well, life and all the curve balls it throws, and treat that dad to a day he would never forget.

After poring over hundreds of different letters with all sorts of amazing stories, one kind of stood out. Not necessarily because it was an unbelievable story, but precisely because it was a very common one.

Meet Ralph. Ralph is a car nut. Ralph held a very good job as a sales manager for a big company where he was given a nice Toyota Crown as a company car. He spent 20 years there. Ralph always dreamed of owning––or at least one day driving––a proper sports car, but was forced to satisfy his cravings by collecting Matchbox cars with his kids. But he didn’t mind. Looking at the little cars and fantasizing about what it would be like was a way of bonding with his kids.

But somewhere in the mid 2000s, the company that Ralph worked for took a turn and he was forced into early retirement. Things, as you can imagine, got quite tight. But it was alright because if there was one thing Ralph valued more than cars, it was education––and he had managed to buy three college plans to ensure that his kids would get the best, no matter what happened to him.

But just as his kids were about to enter college, the college plan company he invested in collapsed and he lost everything. Just like that. Determined that his kids would not go without a proper education, he sold the family car. And for the first time in their lives, the family was car-less. Things got tighter and tighter as the second child was ready for college, so Ralph did what many Filipinos before him have done, and went to work overseas where he was able to save a bit of money––albeit at the cost of his soul.

Without his family by his side, life became pointless; Ralph cried every single day that he was there. In six months alone, Ralph had racked up over 150,000 pesos in phone calls. And every time he heard his daughter’s voice, he would cry. So in early 2007, Ralph came back home and did everything from driving a school bus to making ice cream and selling it in a school in Cavite. Whatever it took. So long as they could all be together.

As the kids graduated, Ralph was finally able to save enough to buy a Vios, which he gave to his eldest son, Martin, to use as an Uber operator, and their love affair with cars continued. Martin knew how much his father had sacrificed for them but never knew how to repay his dad. Doing well in school was a given, but how else do you tell your dad how much he means to you and how you appreciate those sacrifices.

Then one day, as Martin was ready to go to bed, he saw my post asking people to nominate their fathers for a very vague competition or search or something. Martin took his chances. A week or so later, I show up unannounced at Ralph’s front door with an Aston Martin Vantage S V12 and toss Ralph the keys, along with an overnight stay in Discovery Country Suites and a gourmet lunch with his boy.

How I wish I could share with you his reaction when he opened the door, or when he saw the car (especially when I tossed him the keys and he realized he could drive it) and when his son surprised him, but I gotta leave it there. You can see the full story in vivid color on an upcoming episode of Drive on CNN Philippines every Sunday, 9pm!

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