Secretary Michael Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, is one proud father to six sons ranging from ages 19 to 29: Shaun Mikael (Shaun), Lorenzo Miguel (Enzo), Paolo Mikel (Paolo), Christian Mikaelo (Mico), Angelo Mikhail (Gelo) and Anton Mikkelo (Anton). Their second names are all derivatives of their Dad’s first name.
Here’s a close look of a public servant in our midst as a father.
SunStar LIVE! (LIVE!): What are the challenges in bringing up six boys?
Sec. Mike Dino (SMD): “One challenge that is very important is molding them to be well-rounded persons. Establishing basic character — balancing what you want them to be and what they want to become for themselves, is another. There is also the matter of laying a foundation of values in their formative years because when they go to college, the influence of peers is usually very strong. And I’m proud to say that the six of them graduated grade school and high school with honors. More than on wit and intellect, that reflects a lot on their character.
Another consideration is determining what is enough and what is not enough when it comes to providing for them. I don’t want to give my children too little nor too much. But there’s the question of, ‘can any parent, in good conscience, refuse his kids what they really want?’ Lucky for me that my kids know how to save, though in different capacities. They are not profligate. They know where and when to spend it.”
LIVE!: How do you impose discipline?
SMD: “As a father, I am just easy on them. I do not impose discipline on a day-to-day basis. My wife does that and looking at my children now, you would know that she did very well as a mother. Kristine and I, we’re a team when it comes to the kids, I’m the good cop and based on that, you already know who the bad cop is. (laughs)
Since I’ve always been busy with business and work, I wasn’t there every step of the way (although I certainly wish I was). I salute my wife who has always been there for them. I make up for it by spending quality time with them every chance I get. That’s why I am close to my children.
I guide my children and tell them what are non-negotiable and those I consider mortal sins. My children know when I am mad, and when that happens, they just shut up. They also know that I am a person who, after getting mad about something, considers the phase over once the matter is resolved so everybody moves on. What’s done is done.
In discipline, there should also be rewards. You know what my children want? ‘Treat lang ug kaon.’ They love to eat out at their favorite restaurants. Also, everytime one of them graduates, I give him a good wrist watch and a decent car. I buy them their first car, but their next ones should already be on them. I provide for them and ensure that they have a comfortable life.”
LIVE!: What do you think are the most important lessons in life they should learn?
SMD: “I want my children to learn proper values. They should know the value of money — that to earn even a single peso is victory; the value of character so as to achieve one’s goals; and the value of a good reputation. You can earn from investments in one pocket but your other pocket can also earn merely from reputation. That is its power, built on trust. Also, the people you’ve helped in one way or another, will come back to you out of gratitude.
Life lessons are our way toward success. And this is how I defined success in business to my children: If your company earns one peso a year, you are successful. Why? Because if your net income says it’s a positive one, that means you were able to pay for operational expenses, capital and salary. That net means you were able to help your people and your clients. Out of 100 businesses that open, I assure you, 90 percent of that are bound to fail. ‘Dili lalim ang mag-negosyo.’ It entails that you have to be aggressive, especially for opportunities. Then comes the question... ‘But I thought you said one peso is enough. So what is enough?’ My answer: ‘The challenge there is balance. Just balance. Don’t stay too low or too high. Achieve what’s achievable.’
I also tell my children: when you pray, don’t pray for money or riches, pray for opportunities to come your way. You may be the wisest, the strongest and the most hardworking, but without opportunity, you’re just stuck right where you are. Your fortune is only as good as what you do with it. So you would need an opportunity to invest it in and opportunity to grow as a person. Eventually, you’ll have the wisdom to know the difference between what is potentially an opportunity and what is not.
Lastly, since they were little, I have influenced my children to appreciate art, especially the visual arts. So now, they would randomly send me texts about art pieces that they discover and appreciate. You know, this is supporting local artists as well. I am thankful, especially now that I am in government as a public servant, that my children are not at all involved in any controversy, in spite of their age. You know, teenagers are prone to be involved in controversies but my children are level-headed and mature to handle themselves.
As a father, I don’t want my children to be overly prim and proper. Like I’ve said, I want them to be well-rounded persons. ‘Naa poy pilyo ba’ to learn from experience and navigate in the realness of life. They will have a hard time in the real world if they will not be street smart in some ways.”