Tuesday, June 20, 2006

tribute to dad

Valentine’s Day 1998. I was excitedly tinkering with pink and red cards with hearts strewn all over, not to mention the screaming “Happy Valentine’s Day” printed by hands whose eyes must have bulged from lack of sleep the night before while fishing out words and sentiments from nowhere – when one card caught my eye. Sealed in a wild fusion of pink, red, and flesh, it momentarily stripped off the sender’s austere mien to reveal the loving side of him which I have come to know throughout the years.

Loving? It was something that never crossed my mind as a kid who was raised up in a pretty tight situation, where the father figure at home is the same head figure I see in the school corridors and classrooms every day as the school principal. A disciplinarian and a real professional, I was not spared from his critical eye at school, most probably contrary to what most people thought at that time – reprimanding me for violating school rules and yes, issuing me reminder slips (and an offense report as well). I never complained because I knew it was part of the discipline he tried to inculcate in the students, including me – I mean, most especially me, his daughter and his student. Unwittingly, I became more cautious and I brought that with me at home, maintaining a strictly professional relationship with him. My classmates and friends would often ask me how the school principal is like at home and I’d tell them, “Well, he usually comes home late at night, eats dinner, plops down on the carpet in front of the television, and I come bugging him with my one thousand and one questions about science, math, and history.”

At times, I would think it is a curse to be the “daughter of the principal” because I was a magnet of little controversies that went on like “…salig ra na siya kay anak sa principal...” and it hurt like hell because my father never taught me how to take advantage of situations where I’m supposed to have a “little edge” over the others. I labored for every little thing I have gone through. No special treatments. No favors. I did everything fair and square. Some people just didn’t get it and kept playing the same old tunes – in vain, though because my father kept my spirits strong, telling me to ignore them.

Yes, it must be a curse. I believe it the more I think of it now. Because I got the attitude, the vibe, and the enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. The discipline that he tried to instill in me is taking its toll on my being. Now I’m one determined woman, willing to take a lot of risks and wander far away from my comfort zone.

My father may be the strictest man alive on earth for most people (which I think he is not) but he always gave me and my siblings enough room to grow. Which father would laugh at you when at grade 3, you show him your test paper with a failing mark one point away from passing? Which father would strike up an exchange deal with a condition that you can go to a conference in Baguio as long as you go out of your shell? Which father would bring you a pasalubong of books every time he comes home from a board meeting? (consequently starting my love affair with reading) Which father, when your grades are declining, would tell you it’s okay because not everything in this world are graded? Which father, though no expert in the kitchen, would wake up extra early in the morning to “experiment” on sinigang with sausage and hotdog toppings when your mom is away on an official business trip? (In all fairness, the sinigang tasted good!)

There’s nothing really extraordinary about all those. But it’s not like he has to eat fire or walk in a tightrope to prove his worth. Watching me grow and guiding me to the right path is enough reason for me to say, “Pa, thank you. I love you very much even though I don’t say it that much.”

I hastily opened the envelope to find a message from my father. It read: “Stay sweet and loving. I love you.”

Life is just so good.

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