For Papa

For Papa

This week marks my father’s death anniversary.  For close to 40 years he worked in a Jesuit institution as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.

His passion had always been teaching, but to honor the request of my widowed grandmother, he followed in his father’s footsteps.  He finished his law degree, passed the bar exams… and then went back to teaching.

I was very fortunate to attend the same Jesuit university that he served.  Because he was just a parking lot and a soccer field away, it was easy to schedule lunch dates with him.

Unbeknownst to my mom and my siblings, my dad and I would go to a Japanese restaurant in EDSA.  We had a favorite hole-in-a-wall restaurant in Greenbelt, but that was too far to go to for lunch.  We settled for the one closer to school, and would order tekka maki, California sushi, and tempura.  He loved salmon sashimi.

I would think that we talked about how I was doing in school over lunch, but I really don’t remember.  What I remember vividly is the table where we usually sat, the food that we ordered, and the happiness I felt of having that special moment with him.  Our little secret.

When I was a senior in high school, I told him that I wanted to major in Math (gasp!).  If you know me, you know that I am terrible in math.  My math grades show that.  My brother who tutors me knows that.  But, my supportive dad just said, “Sure, if that’s what you think you would like to do.”

Mind you, not once did he say, “Really?!?” or “Have you seen your math scores lately?” or “You are not that smart, dearie!”  Instead we talked about why I thought Math was it.

In the end, it became clear to me what I really liked to do —and learning about parabolas was not it.  My dad didn’t wait for me to fail miserably (because I would have), but he didn’t tell me what to do either.  He let me figure it out.

My father lived a simple and committed life.  I know that I am a better teacher and mother because of him.


About Teacher Tina

I have been a teacher for more than 15 years in the Philippines and the United States. Teaching is a vocation that I am grateful to have embraced. It certainly prepared me for motherhood.

4 responses »

  1. I remember papa taking me to movies too either in Quiapo or Cubao. I don’t recall if the other boys were with us but I remember some of the movies – Easy Rider (I didn’t understand), Tarzan (starring Johnny Weismuller), and Four Feathers (starring Jane Seymour and Beau Bridges). Then after each show, we’d eat in Ma Mon Luk our favorite Mami and Siopao.

    He was such a gentle person and I never once saw him and mama quarrel over anything. When mama started her projects, he’d be there at her side, forever supportive.

    I wish the kids had met him. I can only tell them how he was as a father- gentle and caring.

  2. This is touching, Concep – cheers to great dads!

    • I remember him coming home to Lipa for the weekend with pasalubong of M&Ms and other imported goodies…of climbing on him to pull his gray hair, 10 for 5 centavos, and trying to fool him by passing up some silvery threads from Mama’s retazos…I remember playing with his kuntil by the back of his arm.. I remember the barong I embroidered for him in 5th grade (with Mama Ching’s guidance) and how proud I was the first time he wore it to work, and the next time and the next, until it needed to be retired…I don’t remember the naughty thing I did which made him pick up his cinturron, a very rare occurrence, but I remember hiding under their bed in Maria Clara, and me crawling from one side of the bed to the other as Papa tried to catch me until he finally gave up.

      I was the first one to fly the coop and Papa bridged the distance and kept me abreast with the goings-on of our family with long letters he regularly wrote. I remember the two trips he and Mama made to the US, 1988 and spring of 1990, and how happy I was to bring them to different places–Maryland, Washington, Florida, San Francisco, Newport and Boston, which they both loved.

      In September 1990 I decided to get married. I remember Papa writing to his siblings to ask them to come to my wedding.. even if he was heartbroken with this decision I made. (In the end, Papa knew best.) Now, as we go on with our lives, no matter what curve balls are thrown our way, we are able to keep playing because Papa and Mama taught us well.

    • Cheers to great dads indeed!


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