In praise of fathers

JAIME Momonga leaned against a freshly-painted wall groggily, the bags underneath his eyes pulling him to a quick nap.

As he was about to drift away, his ears perked up upon hearing the squeaky voice of a little girl who was running toward him.

It did not take long for the tired eyes to turn into identical crescent moons the moment 5-year-old Chrizza enveloped her father in her little arms.

Despite working the night shift as a mall security guard, 41-year-old Jaime makes sure he picks up his child at the Zapatera Elementary School every day, not only to ensure her safety, but to share some father-and-daughter moments with her.

Gusto ko nga magdako siya nga iyang amahan kay naa pirmi para niya, dili lang kay sige og trabaho (I want her to remember me as someone she can always lean on, and not as a workaholic father),” he told SunStar Cebu.

Jaime would carry Chrizza on his shoulders, listening to her every word as the girl giddily recounted her day while tightly securing with both hands an umbrella to keep them shaded as they walked home.

While he admits to being tired, the father of two said no amount of sleep could compare to the joy he feels when he personally tends to his child’s school needs.

“It’s very seldom you get to see fathers involve themselves in these things because it’s mostly the wives who tend to the kids. But this is my favorite thing to do. I like being a hands-on dad,” Jaime said in Cebuano.

Ramon Valencia shared the sentiment, saying he would readily trade anything to spend every minute of the day with his six children.

Lunches and long days

On weekdays, Ramon is up before sunrise fixing breakfast for his family. The father is out of the house by 6:30 a.m., biking his way to the Cebu City Central School with 6-year-old Rick Jason in tow.

“I always have my lunch together with my youngest to make sure he eats well. I did this with my older kids as well. Time flies by fast and it won’t be long before my son finds another lunch date,” said Ramon.

The 52-year-old said he personally prepares the menu for the day for Jason and the boy’s two older brothers who are in high school. His wife, on the other hand, watches over their little diner.

For Father’s Day today, Ramon said he has nothing major planned as they usually spend their Sundays sharing homemade grilled fish or pork.

“In our family, every Sunday is considered a special day because it is when all my kids are at home. The older ones are free of work and the little ones out of school. I could not ask for more. Their smiles are my source of happiness,” he said.

Like Ramon, Alberto Narbasa only wishes for his children to grow up into humble, responsible, and happy adults.

While he admits that his job as a building painter does not pay much, the 41-year-old said no amount of money could equal the beams of his eight children.

“I don’t know how but every time I see them all being happy together, it erases all of my worries. Even the financial burden seems to be a little bearable because of them,” Alberto said.

The father would make sure to send and pick up his second to the youngest child from school every day to boost the shy girl’s self-esteem. He would sometimes bring along his youngest daughter, 2-year-old Irish so she can see what the school is like.

“As a poor person, I have nothing to leave my children with but education, so I want them to treasure it. I also want to hold their hands as they go to school, while I can,” said Alberto.
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