Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Officer and a Gentleman

Originally posted on June 2008, as a Father's Day tribute to my Dad, I'm re-posting this on the occasion of his 75th Diamond birthday this year. I may have written this 3 years ago, yet it still carries the overflowing love I have for him and the pride it brings to be his daughter. I read this during his surprise party, to share with everyone how great he is in so many ways and how we love and treasure his presence in our lives.

June is already about to end, but I cannot let it pass without writing about the first man that I ever loved.

My Dad.

Not every child is blessed with the opportunity to be with his/her parents. It is a fact and a sad reality that has become increasingly common nowadays in the society. The prevalence of failed marriages and other factors that break families apart or prevent them from being whole, makes me feel fortunate to have lived my life with the loving presence and guidance of both my mother and father under one sturdy roof.

My dad was a soldier and an officer in the Philippine Army. In his youth, he was a consistent honor student; he was able to put himself through college as a working student, all the way to an MBA degree in Ateneo, by sheer patience and perseverance.

While simultaneously working and attending school, he also devoted his time to help out his family by sending his siblings to school. He is second among the brood of 3 boys and 2 girls, yet he stood as the family's breadwinner.

He met my Mom when he was assigned in Leyte during the late '60s; he fell in love with the lovely Waray lass 11 years his junior and later married her a month after he turned 32. Theirs is a love story that spans 39 years of marriage to date, yet it still carries the same warmth and magic it always had.

Mini Him

I am more like my dad, in many aspects. In fact, he would always joke about me being his 'junior', because of our unmistakable similarities. Apart from our shared love for spicy food, just like him, I am also being commonly referred to as the enigmatic and intimidating silent type who writes more and talks less.

A voracious reader, he ingrained in me the love for reading at a very tender age. I remember his shelf full of books on health, power, how to get rich and positive thinking. Two of his favorite books that he shared with me are Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking.

So that’s how I got the optimistic virus, huh? He gave me a gift that would carry me through a lifetime.

A Good Soldier

Majority of his assignments were in provinces and NPA (New People's Army) infested remote barrios, where my mom bravely tagged along and experienced distributing hand grenades to soldiers' wives, whenever there's a threat of rebel attack in the community.

My sister and I on the other hand, stayed in Manila counting the days when they will be back home again. We survived the distance through prayers, radio to phone patches, letters, telegrams and scheduled school break vacations with them.

The magic acronym to us then was ETA (Expected Time of Arrival), for that's the time when we will see each other again.

He finally tendered his early retirement in 1987 to be with us, but mainly to spare his integrity from the pressures of corruption from his superiors.

The Survivor

Dad became a health buff later on and buried his nose in health books and medical research. It was then that fate played a trick on him and out of the blue came out the big bad 'C'.

He was diagnosed to have Cancer of the vocal cord in 2003.

It was heartbreaking and world-shattering to be told that this man who hasn't smoked a cigar in his lifetime, doesn't drink liquor and is leading a relatively healthy lifestyle had this particular disease already in its advanced stage.

Nevertheless, we did not lose hope. As a family, we had to be strong enough to face this trial head-on. We armed ourselves by storming the heavens with prayers and thoroughly researched about the disease and its treatment. We opted for surgery, but dad compromised that whatever happens, chemotherapy and radiotherapy will never be an option.

The operation was successful, but the recuperating stage was the most emotionally and physically draining aspect of the treatment. A tracheostomy tube was temporarily placed in the hole/stoma in his throat after the operation, where a continuous supply of mucus come from.

I had to learn how to suction to keep his air passage clear, every time. I, who faint at the mere sight of blood, was able to survive this medical nightmare.

This has made our family stronger in more ways imaginable. With God's grace, dad has remained Cancer-free to date, but the trial doesn't end there. Currently, he is under continuous medication for congestive heart failure.

Physically he is strong, but anatomically, his heart has gone weak. Even the doctors were amazed on how he survived this condition without major attacks and other physical manifestations. He attributes this miracle to taking alternative supplements religiously that improved his overall well-being.

The Best Father

I know this post has gone longer than I originally planned, but there will never be enough words to describe this great man who is a loving and loyal husband, a good father, a role model and a prayerful son of God. He is one of the few men who gives justice to the word 'father' in its truest essence and meaning.

They say that a dad will know if he has been a good father when his daughter's ideal man is 'just like daddy'. This rings true because I would also like to end up with someone who is just like my first love, my hero and real super man.

Thank you dad, for all that you are and all that you've given to make our family what it is today - solid and God-centered. In my heart, you will always be the best father and teacher. I love you!

Happy 75th Birthday, Dad!

Related Post:

The Best Mom in the World