I’ve always adored the mockumentary ‘Modern Family.’ They portray families so unbelievable that it’s actually relatable. There’s something about its satire humor and heartwarming family values (yep, it’s there) that makes me look forward to the next episode every week.
Jay Pritchett, played by actor Ed O’Neill, said something from season one that I still remember ’til now. At the end of the ‘Bike Thief’ episode, Jay said to the camera, “The key to being a good dad… Well, sometimes things work out just the way you want. Sometimes they don’t. But you gotta hang in there. Because when all is said and done, 90% of being a dad is just showing up.”
90% of being a dad is just showing up. Showing up on the day your wife gives birth, your kid’s first step, their first birthday, your daughter’s piano recital, your son’s basketball game, their graduation, their first heartbreak, the first time they bring a guy or girl home to meet the family, their wedding day… Just show up. Be there—100%.
But then again—what do I know? I’ll never be a dad. My own father tried his best to show up, to always be there, but providing for us often got in the way. Nonetheless, I appreciate the times he did make it. And he was there 100%.
I asked some people I know—sons, daughters, dads, wives, expecting parents, single moms—on what fatherhood means to them and I got various responses.
Newlyweds Joren and Kimberly Ignacio are looking forward to the birth of their first child and they’re both looking forward to the joy and challenges of being parents.
Kimberly wrote with Joren right beside her, “Fatherhood entails responsibility and commitment. It started the moment we found out we’re expecting. For us, it’s not just hoping and trying to be the best parents, but also make sure to maintain a great relationship with your partner even when you already have a child. We have to remember that we have to be a spouse first before a parent [because] a healthy marriage will help us raise a healthy family.”
Another newlywed couple and expectant parents are Mark and Riza Rivera. They shared, “While in this season of waiting and preparing for our little one, it’s also a season of reflecting about God’s fatherhood to us and the full extent of His love. Fatherhood is a privilege to be entrusted with a life, no matter how incompetent we may be, and a responsibility to build a godly legacy. At our stage, it’s also the preparation of our hearts to have a Christ-led vision for a family.”
Missionary couple Regie and Evelyn Bacani is one of the couples I admire the most—and dare I say—hope to be like someday. During my stay in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, they opened their home and their family to us students. Our hearts are forever grateful to their generosity and kindness.
For Ate Evelyn, a mother of three nearly perfect teenagers and a loving wife, fatherhood originated from God the Father. “It means perfect love, it spells provision, protection, and purpose. Our experience with our earthly [fathers] will always lack but [that gap] is meant to bring us to the Heavenly Father. He is the one who loves every child—2 or 52—and then, that child, a husband, a father, or a daughter.”
For Kuya Regie, who have championed campus and community ministries–including their beautiful family—with his wife for decades, “fatherhood is taking the initiative to develop a loving relationship with your children and discipling them (according to Deuteronomy 6: 1-9) in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
Campus Ministry Director Jomer Gallana and his wife Bituin are parents to two boys, Malaya and new baby Dakila. Despite experiencing all sorts of challenges in their ministry work, nothing quite prepared Kuya Jomer for the wonderful journey that is fatherhood.
“Before I became a father, I cannot imagine bringing into this world a tiny human being I would be responsible for—to provide, protect, discipline, teach about God and life. It was, I believe, such an impossible task; something that can only be done by faith,” Kuya Jomer shared.
“But nothing really prepared me for what I had to face as a father. Maybe I had a plan in my head on how to go about it but when you’re actually there, no how-to book would suffice. Thus, Fatherhood made me—all the more—cling to my heavenly Father for help so I can raise my children God’s way. And I never thought that fatherhood will be God’s way to show me His Father heart,” Kuya Jomer wrote. “The love I felt for my sons made me realize how deep God’s love is for me. It is not based on their milestones or achievements but simply on who they are. It is overwhelming to know that God sees me the same way or so much more. Thus, fatherhood to me was God’s best tool to grow me and prune me as a man and a Christian.”
Even four-year-old Malaya had something to say about fatherhood based on Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan’s children’s book “Meet my Super Dad.”
“My Tatay (Jomer) is a Super Tatay because he plays with me, reads me stories, rides bike with me, gives me a bath, washes my butt, fights with me, helps me eat and more,” Malaya shared. “I love my Super Tatay!”
For brothers Jebb and Paul Delos Santos, their father Yul (with their mom Lyn) created a lasting impression on them as growing men.
Paul, a graduating medical technology student, shared, “Fatherhood is not just being the leader of the family or the head overall but fatherhood is an attitude wherein a father will be able to hear, listen and pay attention on what his family members need, wants and the suggestion of ideas are free to all. Hindi man siya ang masunod (he may not have the final say), but the thing is he is willing to listen and participate in making decisions.”
His brother Jebb, a pharmacy major, showed his appreciation “for all the sacrifice, love, care and protection” their dad gave them.
“I’m so fortunate to have [him] as my Dad. I love him so much,” Jebb added.
When Francis’ father passed away in 2005, he was still in college, trying to figure out what’s in store for him. Today, he is now Engr. Francis Colendrino—a feat he said that would really honor his dad.
On fatherhood, Francis—also a Bible School graduate—shared, “Fatherhood is when your son (in my case) needs you and you are there most of the time. It is being there in the most special moments of his children: birthdays, circumcision day, sports fest, recognition day, graduation day and one of the most exciting parts of life, wedding day. [That was] the fatherhood I’ve experienced with my late dad. Now that he is not present in my daily life for 8 years and a half, there are still things/situations that I wished my father was there to give me an advice. But I believe he disciplined us so that we will be ready when [certain] situations come up.
Like many sons and daughter who lost a father (or any parent for that matter), Francis shared the struggle and triumph of overcoming the death of a loved one.
“It’s tough to lose a father but it’s an honor to live your life with one. I thank God for giving me a father with a good sense of humor and a strong cool attitude. I believe that is his experience with [my] Lolo and as much as possible, he wanted us to experience the good things he had back then,” he said.
College professor and father of two Jay Conejos believes that fatherhood “is both a responsibility and a privilege.” More than that, Sir Jay believes that “Fatherhood is a glorious heritage from our Father God in heaven.”
For musician Ian Acosta, “Fatherhood is loving your child fiercely so that she may do the same.”
Son of an OFW dad and a father himself to almost two-year-old Liam, Oliver Ocampo believes that fatherhood means “being the very best example of yourself to your kids. It’s full of hardship and sacrifice, pero bawi naman ‘pag nakikita mo ngiti ng anak mo.” (But it’s all worth it when you see your kid’s smile.)
For proud single moms Zarah Edralin and Karis Diaz, fatherhood is beyond gender. It is about embracing the responsibility and joy above and beyond your sexual orientation.
For Zarah, supermom and best friend to Kyle and Chloe, fatherhood “not just for fathers, but for anyone who has been unselfish enough to give love to abandoned children.”
Karis, Shyle and Coraline’s ‘queen mommy,’ shared, “I am a fathering mother to my sweet kids. Fatherhood means a lot to me. It is for my children to have the security of my love and of our daddy God’s love. Also for them to be teachable, accountable, free to grow, and to teach children about the future.”
Also a dedicated and artsy Sunday school teacher, Karis added, “Future means fathers and fathering mothers like me should teach kids that there should only be one movement in our lives and that is to move forward, and to trust God’s chosen path for us.”
The son of an OFW, JR Adriano spends most of his days thousands of miles away from his parents, but the distance never kept his dad from being a mentor to him and his two younger brothers.
“For me, [fatherhood] means not always giving those we protect what we want, but never blinking twice about what they need. It means doing everything a father can to keep everyone together. When it comes to mentoring, I definitely learned those from my dad,” JR said.
Soon-to-be doctor Theola Ocampo is also a daughter of OFWs in Riyadh, and for the past 10 years, she’s been living (mostly) on her own since she went back to the Philippines for college. But just like most parents, distance was never an issue when it comes to being there for their children.
“For the past 10 years, my dad has missed celebrating birthdays, Christmases, New year and every holiday with me, only because he works abroad,” Theola shared. “However, despite the distance, he has never let me feel the absence. Not a week passes by when he doesn’t call (Yes, call! Do you know how much an international call costs?!) just to know if I’m eating right or getting enough sleep. He would call to ask if I’d like some books [that] his client is giving away. He would call with the song the choir I once joined (my first and last) blaring in the background just to let me know he was watching. He would call even if he just did a few minutes ago.”
Being her best friend, I could attest to this constant telephoning between her and her dad Tito Nick. I would even speak with him at times that he’d call and Theola and I are together. He never misses a beat, he’s up-to-date even with my affairs–a loving gesture of an extended family.
“It’s in the little things that make me know he’s thinking of me miles away,” Theola continued. “My father is far from perfect but he shows his love in the best way that he can, in the best way he knows how. And where he is limited and lacking as a father, I’m blessed to know that my heavenly Father is more than able to fill the gaps.”