by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
I was 17 when my mother left for the U. S.so we can have a better life. On the day of her flight, it was my enrolment day as a Freshman at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It was my father who was there to accompany me as I experience a major milestone in my life. And from then on, it was my Papa Rey who I would go home to every Christmas and summer vacation.
He was the one who was there to offer emotional support as I navigate the ups and downs of college life. It was also my father who attended the school events when my younger brothers were in high school, and my older sister was pursuing her course.
It was him who would bring me to the bus terminal in Baguio when it’s time to go down to Manila. In our family, my parents exchanged roles – my mother became the provider, and my father became the nourisher and emotional support.
He was the one who took on the role of being a mother to us, especially to my growing brothers. I remember my brother joining an art competition when he was in elementary. He painted my father doing the household chores and entitled it “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” (My Father Who is a Mother).
As I write this article, I just won first place for the songwriting competition and third place for the essay writing contest organized by the Philippine Embassy and POLO-OWWA here in Korea for the Filipino Migrants in celebration of the Philippine Independence Day and Migrants Day.
I am very much like my father who is a singer and a writer. I must say that I am his ‘mini-me’ and my siblings cannot refute.
Our family was a happy one. We lived in a small house, and we didn’t have much but it was full of life. Until one day, when I was already working in Singapore, I learned that my parents separated. My mother decided to stay permanently in the U.S., leaving our family behind physically.
But she continued to support us, communicate with us and still remained to be our mother whom we honor for laying her life for us. Because of her, all four of us were able to finish our studies. But through all the difficult seasons we faced, it was our father who was there physically. And we praise God for his life.
Today, Papa Rey lives alone in our simple abode in the mountains of Baguio. He enjoys hiking and having long walks. He spends his days cleaning and propagating plants and vegetables in our garden where he gets food to cook. On his rest times, he loves reading books and watching Netflix. He loves welcoming friends and strangers to our home. He loves giving whatever he has to his neighbors because our home is open to anyone who need someone to talk to. And he loves sending us messages through Facebook of whatever lessons he learns from the books he reads. He never forgets to remind us to enjoy REal MOments, just like his name – Remo.
In his loneliness, he finds joy. In his emptiness, he chooses to give. In his material poverty, he sees wealth on things that matter. In being alone, he finds solitude and joy. This is who my father is.
I grew up desiring to have a complete and happy family. The separation of my parents really broke my heart and shattered my soul. It had a great impact to us siblings, especially to my two younger brothers who had trouble handling relationships. But by God’s grace, we are all happily married now and with children.
Coming from a broken family taught us to value the relationships that we have. For me, I learned to fight for my husband and my children. I learned the importance of being together physically, in all seasons and at all times.
It has become my prayer that there will come a time that families need not be separated physically by poverty. It is my hope that mothers or fathers need not go abroad just to support their children because I have seen its damaging effects on families. Impossible as it may seem, but it is a prayer I will continue to utter.
The story of my family may not be ideal, good and worth emulating but I have seen the goodness of God in everything and in every way to us.
He has blessed me with parents, though separated, want the best for us. He has blessed me with a father who was not absentee, was always there, was loving and still faithful to our mother.
He has a lot of shortcomings, mistakes and weaknesses that led to our family ending up like this but to be bitter and be angry at him never entered my mind and my heart. He still gave his best. He still raised us with love. He still was, is and will always be the father that God has blessed us with and called to steward me and my siblings.
For this, I will always be grateful. For this, I will always choose to honor him. For this, I will always be proud to be his daughter and call him my Papa.
To all the fathers in the world – to my Papa, the daddy of my children, to single dads, to adoptive dads, to all kinds of fathers… THANK YOU for being our superheroes!
Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being our pillar of strength. Thank you for being you. We honor you and we will always be proud of you. Happy Father’s Day!
Read More Personal Reflections:
THEN AND NOW: A Letter to my Children About Grace and Gratitude
My Motherhood Story