A truly belated happy father's day

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By Sandy Gil

Sunday Dunes

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I HAVE this strong suspicion that I am actually bipolar.


Let me begin by telling you that I am my father and mother's child (and so are my nine other siblings). I had dedicated last week's column to the weirdest advice of my Mom, a gracefully aging lady with a warped sense of humor. They say that some seventy percent of a child's character is maternally inherited. So this sort of explains the way I sometimes (?) think.


Now, for the remaining thirty percent; it's my Dad's turn.


Dad left Mom a merry widow and his children fatherless in 1999. He was a civil engineer and a corporate organization man for the longest time. He eventually entered government later in life because he felt a deep obligation to do something for the country, a sort of paying forward for his blessings. This sense of honor and duty he likewise taught his children, never praising us for garnering high grades in school. A veritable workaholic, Dad always made it quite clear that our accomplishments are our obligations.

As a child, I was absolutely scared of my Dad. He rarely smiled or laughed, unlike my Mom. Every time he came home from work, my siblings and I would race to our bedrooms, and pretend that we were doing our homework. His silent presence instilled the most powerfully unnerving energies in the household. And perhaps because I appeared to be the most intimidated, Dad developed this habit of making me his little lady-in-waiting, serving him coffee, or getting his slippers, or looking for his antipara.

The role of female butler earned me Dad's pet name, "Chickalerk," which I had happily thought was his endearment until as an adult, I found out that it was in fact the name... of his childhood pet dog. On the other hand, it also earned me another nickname from the rest of the family - "Daddy's butt." Needless to say, I was the epitome of Little Miss Goody-Goody-Gumdrops, surrendering to my Dad's every demand.


As I entered young ladyhood, Dad began to take my sisters and I out, one at a time, on what he called "dates." I discovered that aside from being the upright, rigidly moral and military disciplinarian, my Dad had subtly imparted the traditional ethics and etiquette of hijos and hijas, of senoritos and senoritas, as well as dons and donas. My Dad is perhaps the only gentleman I know who opened doors and pulled out chairs for ladies, when opening doors and pulling out chairs for ladies had gone out of style.


As Dad's sort of assistant, I learned (or maybe I was forced to learn) how to be neat and tidy - to a fault. As I balanced out his check books and filed his work papers, Dad had constantly reminded me that neatness equaled an organized mind, which allowed one to make good decisions in life. As such, ALL expenses had to have receipts and were listed - including supermarket receipts - and filed, without crumpled edges (which meant Mom had a lot of ironing to do after doing the grocery), and then hard bound in chronological order by the year. Dad was such a neatness freak that when he woke up in the morning, his pajamas still had their ironed folds on them (which made me wonder how he and Mom had ten children!).


It happened one particular Sunday last May, the only day I could be by myself, without workers repairing and re-painting my home six days a week. Exhausted, stressed and feeling absolutely alone, I was overcome with self-pity as I lovingly covered my dining table with old newspaper to protect it from my chaotic surroundings. Armed with a roll of masking tape, I had opened and neatly spread out the old newspaper; and there in front of me was last year's obituary for my Dad's death anniversary.

I broke down in tears, said a little prayer and silently asked, "Dad, I are you proud of me?" (Thank God, there was no answer!)


They say I look like my Dad, but inherited Mom's creative and wild side. Not good. Brains of my Mom and beauty of my Dad.

For an artist-writer, I am unusually organized. Does that make me bipolar? (I love you, Dad.)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 06, 2014.


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