Be More than Just their Old Man, Be a Good Father


Meet my old man”, is a phrase I only hear in Hollywood movies. Translated word for word into Filipino, it should sound like, “Eto, matandang lalaki ko.” – which has a weird meaning, is quite awkward and disrespectful in our culture. That’s why the appropriate translation is “Eto po ang aking ama.

Ama” should sound like “Uh-Mah” with a resolute and dignified tone.

We also don’t call our parents by their first names and always address them prefixed and suffixed with “po” or “opo”, “ho” or “oho” in a sentence.  

Hence you say, “Pinapakilala ko (po) sa inyo ang aking ama.

In English, “I’d like to introduce, my father.

While saying it, you’d have to imagine yourself as if you were introducing a man you really respect and owe deference too – regardless of whether you do or do not! 🙂

Unfortunately and quite ironically, though our culture places great importance in the language of deference, the conceptual notion of what consists of a good father is mostly lost to many people.

Many do think about it, but not in a deeply conceptual way. For instance, in television commercials, Fathers are mostly portrayed as slaves to their work and to their children just as mothers are.  Oftentimes, you’d see the all too common Filipino man – the jeepney driver, the farmer, the tricycle driver, eking out what small wages they could with the inspiration of holding a picture of their children wearing a toga.  Something like this. (It’s a facebook link, so I hope you get to see it. Hopefully the owner will not remove it.)  I think it’s high time that this changes and not just in Filipino culture.

Yes, it’s good that fathers should be seen as sacrificial and hard working to provide for their families – but being a good father isn’t just about that.

Yes, it’s good that fathers should be seen taking their jumping children to Jollibee – our local version of McDonalds, but being a good father isn’t just about that.

Yes, it’s good that fathers should be seen taking their children to school or work and then kissing them on the forehead before doing so, but being a good father isn’t just about that.

For one, good fathers should stop smoking

I’m a smoker and a father so yes, I am a walking paradox but I am trying to be a good one.

But many do still and the prospect of many children living fatherless in the Philippines or even in the world is something that statisticians should look into deeply. It is an ongoing phenomenon even with worldwide smoking legislation banning smoking starting to take root in many nations.

The questions we should ask are:

  • How many fathers have been killed by cigarettes? 
  • How many children are living without their fathers because of cancer? 
  • How many mothers are rearing their children alone because they’ve lost their husbands to a smoking related illness? 

Of course, nobody lives forever. But there’s a big difference if you’ve lost your father at a young age compared to if you’ve lost your father when everybody is presumably “ready”. There’s also the element of free will. As smokers, we choose to smoke every time that we pick up a cigarette. Be it by habit or addiction – free will is always and still there.

Being a good father is being a good steward of yourself 

I’ve always believed that we are all stewards of our lives and that is why I believe that my life is not mine, our lives are not ours – but our family’s and society’s. We, fathers, are all caretakers of the first thing that was given to us – which is every breath that we take in this living world.

To diminish our capabilities and potential in this world by smoking, taking drugs, being an alcoholic, engaging in irresponsible sexual activity, gambling, wasting time and idling away are, at least, to me, crimes of a divine sort – not just against our families and society, but most of all to the Greater Power.

To those who I have failed to convince, then let me instill some fear in you from a man to another man, a father to another father.

Just imagine what would happen to your children if you do not stop smoking.

I have seen it and it’s not pretty.

On that note, I salute every father and enjoin you to do good, strive to be better and be more than just an “old man“. 

Happy Father’s day.


Creative Commons Image via Flickr

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