The term that makes us flinch every time we had to call him that in public, especially in school. We studied in a private school where probably 90% of the kids call their fathers ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. And we call our father Tatay. Every kid’s nightmare because our classmates will think we’re poor. Well we are (maarte lang talaga kami) but despite the hardships, our Nanay and Tatay made sure we’re armed with good education because that’s all they can give us.
I remember Tatay teaching us to commute when we’re just about 10 years old. Since our salon was our home for its proximity to our school, we only go home to Marikina on Friday afternoons. He accompanies us to the jeep stop until we get our ride; notes the plate number; and goes to the driver to tell him that we will alight at ‘Good Year’. And every time, he will wear his fatigue jacket that my uncles from the army gave him as if to send a silent message to the driver, “Don’t mess with my kids, I will hunt you down”. It worked every time. 😀
And he has this one rule before we can play outside: take an afternoon nap for at least an hour. And this is so hard for any kid because we all would rather play. And when you are told to sleep, it is the most opportune time to find something funny and laugh like loonies. Of course Tatay will peek in the room and with just that look, we quieted down. But as soon as he leaves, we ‘smartly’ hatch a plan to count from 1 to 100 and to let out a big yawn as we go out the room, one at a time. Of course, the plan backfired because we fell asleep. Naglaway pa sa unan.
After our simple merienda of pan de sal dipped in Coke or bread with coco jam we can now play outside. Yay! But as soon as the sun comes down, we will hear that distinct sitsit that even our playmates panic when they hear our father call us. And if we fail to show up few minutes later, we will find him waiting for us at the gate, looking as though he traded his lips for one mean straight line and we will then be scolded for staying out late.
But now that I’m older (though I pretty much haven’t grown up in their eyes) I have more leeway about my comings and goings around the house. And because when I’m out with friends and the ‘others in between’, I tend to go home pretty late and he blurted out one time, ‘Ang hirap talaga nang dalawang lalake ang anak mong iniintindi.” My sister is in UK so that leaves me and my brother here. Now even my father thinks I’m a guy. 😛
I can still think of more childhood anecdotes but I’ll stop here for now. And end this with two photos from a stash of old cards and letters I found that we gave them more than a decade ago. Since we don’t have money as kids, we just wrote letters to our parents on special occasions or buy them something (which is technically their money too 😀 ) from the bookstore nearby.
I wrote the letter on Father’s Day of 1988. This is one of the hard years because our father has no job and unfortunately fell into a recruitment-for-Saudi scam by a neighbor’s relative.
To our Tatay who’s perfect in his imperfection, we love you!
To my rocker brother who tries his best to be a father and loves to annoy me but supports me even with my horrible choices;
To my brother-in-law who loves and puts up with my sister’s and their kids’ craziness;
And to all my friends’ fathers and friends who are fathers themselves…
Happy Father’s Day!