It’s father’s day this coming Sunday. I’m pretty sure that a lot of personal blogs will be about the fathers in their lives. AND YES, THIS BLOG IS ONE OF THOSE… pero ok lang naman, diba? I REALLY need to talk about these two special fathers in my life. I need them to know how I see them, what they mean to me and why they mean so much.
Op jors, and una sa billing, si Itang ko siempre.
Itang married young – 20, still in college. He was taking up Mechanical Engineering at the Mapua at that time when he took my mother away from my lolo and eloped – 3 times. (The first two, my lolo Pendong always got my Inang back. The third try, they went farther away – Baguio. And my lolo just gave up on a lost cause and allowed them to marry in church :)
Itang never got to finish his studies at MIT. My Inang got preggers with me right away and so he had to quit college and work. He even worked for a second cousin (my Tita Nellie and Tito Gani) as their personal driver for awhile. After a few months, Tito Gani, being an executive at Ayala at that time, decided to bring in my Itang to work at Filipinas Life. (Alam nyo yun… yung may jingle na “Sa Filipinas, Filipinas Life… Filipinas Life Assurance Company”). He was brought in as a District Service Assistant. There he stayed till 1981. It was also thru the company that he was able to finish college. He didn’t take up engineering anymore, instead he graduated with a degree in Business Administration at the De La Salle.
Itang was a quiet man when I was growing up. According to my Lola Idad, Itang was already 5 years old when he decided to talk. And he was talking straight when he opened his mouth.
Because he didn’t speak much, I didn’t have a lot of memories of Itang and me talking when I was younger, not a lot of small talks. Except for the few instances. Like when he told me he wanted me to be the eldest child when the situation calls for it, this when he and Inang had a big argument at one time and I walked out of the house. Or the time after my HS graduation when he wanted me to take up a pre-medicine course because his bestfriend, Uncle Jake, said he’d help me get in at the Ateneo on a scholarship. That fizzled into thin air. We didn’t have the money for me to pursue medicine-proper. Or the day I left for Canada and I had a misunderstanding with Inang and he told me while we were waiting for our connecting flight in Tokyo how much Inang loves me and that I should call her up the minute we got to Calgary (I didn’t have to, Inang called right away).
But even tho we didn’t talk a lot, I remember touching moments with Itang. There was a time in HS that because I didn’t take heed and our dog took a big bite at my cheek and eyelid. I remember the warmth of Itang’s hand while he inspected my face when he came home that night. He and Inang thought I was sleeping, but when they stepped out of the room, tears rolled down my aching cheek because I was so touched with Itang’s loving gesture. I also remember the hugs he gave me during my graduation days, most specially that proud embrace when I graduated from college, the kisses during Christmases and new years, my 18th birthday when he gave me his gift, or the time he was going back home to the Philippines after taking me to Calgary. Clearly, Itang was the proverbial “man of few words”.
But don’t be mislead that ours was a fairytale relationship. There were the times that I also didn’t quite understand the things that he did and somehow, I also resented their consequences. The most major was when he quit his stable job to put up an insurance sales agency at a time when the economy was going bad. I also didn’t like the times when the drinking started to occur more often (which I understood now to be due to his frustrations). I resented the fact that when the funds were already gone when I was in college, I had to scrimp on textbooks and just choose the ones I really, really needed. I had to go and do some tutoring work just so that I had some money for my shoes and whatnots. I didn’t have as much as my other classmates. And Inang had to start working, selling Hongkong goods to people at Broadcast City. Thank God for my brother, during my last two years of college, he paid for my tuitions.
But no matter how bad the situation had been, and how jealous I was becoming of my more well-off classmates, I still couldn’t get very mad at Itang. Yes, I resented the consequences of his decision, but I couldn’t resent him. And I knew even then that he was trying very hard – even buying a Cimarron utility vehicle to take neighborhood kids to St. Paul and Lourdes School and diligently making sure everyday that the old Cima’ would always work for the next day’s run.
With everything, I still had the man in a pedestal. I was still like a little girl waiting for him to look my way or talk to me or smile at me and I basked in every moment he did. I guess I have to thank my Inang for that – she continuously instilled in the minds and hearts of her children the respect for their father. Despite the hardships we were all experiencing, Itang was still the head of the family, and we should give him the due regard. So even tho I had my questions, there was something Inang always told us. That the times might be lean then, but the earlier times should be remembered – Itang never let his family down and he had always worked hard for us. This was just a glitch. It would also end.
And when the Cima finally died on us and we eventually moved to Cubao from Cainta, Itang became my brother’s official bodyguard and companion in his work. This was the time that my brother became the main breadwinner of the family. But despite my brother’s growing fame and popularity, and this I will always be proud of, he never looked down at Itang or treated him any less. He always listened to Itang’s advice with all seriousness, always made sure that the production staff took care of Itang, always asked for his opinion on anything. My brother never forgot who was still the real head of the family.
The day came when I sponsored Itang and Inang to live with me in Canada. I think that was the turning point for Itang. He soon learned that countries like Canada didn’t look at a man’s age to be hired. He tried everything and he never complained. Even when it was carrying sacks of potatoes for NY Fries. It was just because of his family’s prodding and an injured toe that he decided to change jobs. After a while, he worked as a parking attendant and eventually began supervising parking attendants for a big parking lot company in Calgary.
Maybe grandkids do something to a man, and maybe a renewed confidence in himself that he still can take care of his family, Itang began to talk a lot more. Much to Inang’s chagrin sometimes because he really does speak his mind – no holds barred. Me? I actually find it cute :) When he started to open up a little more everyday, that’s when I began to understand and know him more. We’ve talked a lot more – even about the small little things, even about neighborhood gossips. My face lights up whenever he would be on the other end of the phone and he’d ask me “How’s my angel?” (Even tho I know, that’s how he calls all his daughters these days.) My dad soon became more endearing to me because now I’m seeing his soft side – the one he showers his grandchildren with, the one that comes out when he would talk to them and my siblings over the phone or when he sees something he just has to buy for pasalubong for them. More than the hero, more than the icon, I’m now seeing the man. And more so now, my past resentments are one by one being forgotten.
I guess, when you get older, and you look back, you begin to realize that your father is human, too. He can make mistakes, he can also fall. He would have his own needs, he would have his own reasons for doing things – no matter how you disapprove of them. But despite any inequities or any faults or any decisions in life, you begin to realize that, first and foremost, he loves you. Especially if you’ve personally witnessed how much he sacrificed just so that you can get a good education, provided a roof over your head, served sustenance so you won’t have to starve, indulged for even the smallest of what he thought were your reasonable whims, never mind if he has not bought a decent pair of socks or underwear in years. That he was there to encourage you during your school plays and performances, how proud he was when you showed him merit cards of “best in religion”, “2nd honors”, (never mind that you never got the “best in conduct” ones), how he loved your latest blog entry, how he had announced to everyone your recent promotions at work. That giving him your love, respect and acceptance will never really add up to what he’d given you, but he’s happy to receive just that from you. That no matter how many times you fell, he was there for you because you will always be your father’s child – no matter how old you’ve grown or how famous you’ve become.
And my Itang will always be THE ONE who gave me life, who I owe my life to, who I will always offer my life for – despite the inequities… despite the faults of the past. Because he will always be the first man that I ever loved and still is.
(To be continued)
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