Lessons From My Father, A Throwback

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(In the tradition of the upcoming Father’s Day, I would like to repost an article I wrote back in 2010 as a tribute to my late father. Original write-up was published in our local church newsletter in the Philippines.)

Love of Running

My father loves to run. Three times a week, long before the sun rises, he was already jogging around our neighborhood. He had the discipline to conquer his self and the world.

I remember when he took me running at a very early age, I believe I was still in elementary.  We would be weaving our way in the dark streets of Manila that are sparsely lit by a few street lamps, while most of the neighborhood were still snoring in their beds. He told me that I do not have to worry about muggers and robbers as by this time of the day, they were gone, and the only people on the streets on this hour, were good and hard-working people who were trying to have a lead start in the day.

Sure enough we will pass vendors arranging their goods, newspaper boys already making their delivery, and a few busy people scuttling their way to work. We also would pass by bakeries that were already open (the only stores open in our locale this early), and would get a whiff of the “pandesal” that they were baking in their ovens. My father told me that all I have to watch for are a few stray dogs that may chase us, but he believes I am fast enough anyway to outrun them.

My father continued running until the time he started having dizzy spells, causing him to stumble and fall. He initially thought that he was just pushing himself too hard; so he continued to run. Only later on will we find out that the dizziness was caused by a growing tumor in his brain. Only then did he stop running; not because his love for it waned, but because his strength and ability waned.

In his last days, he was reduced to a wheelchair. I painfully remember as I helped him stand – I was supporting the once strong hands that held me up to make my first steps, but now I’m propping up, to take his last.

I continued where he left off, for I kept on running. I still enjoy the wind in my face, the sweat in my brows, and feeling the steady rhythm of my fast heart beat. Last fall, I ran my first half marathon, and hopefully someday I’ll do a full one.

Yes, I have my father to thank for this healthy habit I developed. But more so, I believed this instilled in me the drive and the endurance to do things that many people think cannot be done, and gave me a head start while the rest of the world still slumbers.

Value for Education

At a very young age, my father already cultivated in us the importance of a good education. I remember us kids doing multiplication exercises with him while we’re riding home from school. I also remember him tutoring me in my difficult subjects, especially when it involves math. He told us that he may not leave us much material inheritance, but if we get a decent education, this will give us enough to have a chance of changing the course of our lives.

My father did not have a master’s degree or a doctorate degree. He came from a family of farmers, and in fact he was the first one in their clan to finish college. His family did not have the means for a higher education, but my father worked his way through college. He had these stories of working odd jobs so just he can finish college.

Many years later, I learned that it was his dream to become a doctor, but because of the circumstances given him, going to medical school is out of his reach. So he took up Accounting instead and eventually became a CPA, an occupation he performed diligently and with integrity. And his dream of being a doctor? He passed it on to me. Sadly he did not live long enough to witness it into fruition.

He value education that he gave the opportunity to get a decent education, not only to his children but to others outside his family. I later learned that he helped a few other people get through college. I am not sure where these people are today, but I am sure they are grateful to him for the opportunity given them.

And for me? I owe my father the education I got and where it led me. If only he can see me now. I hope I made him proud.

Unfailing Faith

I think it is safe to say that my father is a man of faith. He preached it and he lived it. I fondly remember him sponsoring several evangelistic efforts. There was one place that even involve a 7-kilometer hike up a mountain, and another place that can only be reached by crossing a river through wading in the waist-deep water, and another in an inner city slums. And the neat part is he brought as along to these efforts. I witnessed it first hand his burning desire to share the truth he had found.

His faith did not falter even to the bleakest of situations. I remember vividly when he was lying in a hospital bed during the last few months of his life. His doctor just told him that he had a tumor in his brain, and unless he be operated on, he had no chance of living; but even with the surgery, it was no guarantee. To this he said that he was not afraid to die, for his trust is in God.

Here was a man who had fearlessly accepted his mortality and placed his utmost trust to the only One who can give us immortality. My father’s unfailing faith let him see beyond the uncertainty of this life; yes, even when facing death. A few months later, he died. But his faith lives in me.

As I lovingly embraced this faith that was passed on to me, I am hoping that I may also passed it on to my children, and my children’s children.

To all the fathers in this world, Happy Father’s Day!

(*photo taken during my morning run)


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