28 May 2009

Of Carabaos and Girlfriends

Dear Readers,

Thad Hinunagan is one of my favorite Filipino writers and well, I really think he's brilliant because he writes about REAL things and REAL feelings. He's been on my Bent Culture blog list forever. Thad's special stories are magnificent and truly touching. Visit his wonderful blog @ http://thadhinunangan.blogspot.com/

Of Carabaos and Girlfriends
by Thad Hinunangan

When asked, I only have but a few recollections of instances when I spent some alone time with my father when I was young. Being an OFW, he was always away and the man I call my father was a vague figure who was frequently overshadowed by my mom's presence.

He is a man of a few words. Simple, practical, and never really had those father and son talks with me- except I think, when it came to discussions about tuition fees and bills. In terms of life direction or career paths, my parents never really intervened, which suited me just fine since I was quite an independent kid. Among the few instances he vaguely expressed what he wanted of me- he told me one morning, he knew of a kid in his hometown about the same age as me who was good at saving money and already owned a carabao. He wanted to show me his idea of a good, stable life but probably because of my immaturity, all I could think of was this: what am I supposed to do? Get a carabao?

I realize now of course, he never intended the discussion on large mammals. It was about being thrifty and frugal, and that those were qualities he wanted me to possess. But I had other ideas which I carried over until I started working: work hard, party hard. Skyscrapers sounded more appealing than beasts of burden, but as my lifestyle came to a halt when I resigned- I realized he was right. That was the first instance I disappointed my father.

A memory had been nagging on my mind- on my sixteenth birthday, he told me a few days before the 17Th of November: if I bring a girlfriend home, he would give me five hundred pesos. I laugh at this every time I remember it. There was even an instance he brought three daughters of his kumpares from Abuyog to meet with me (I think he bragged to them I was quite the ladies man who went to UP). Naturally, all these efforts came crashing down, and after my coming out- came the second disappointment I caused.

Perhaps we will always have different ideas of who he wants me to be and who I want to be, but I do hope it would not ruin our relationship. No amount of differences can change the fact that we are father and son, and as much as I envy my straight brothers possibly fulfilling my father's dream of what kind of men they would be- I can only be myself, and that's all I can offer. I love my dad.

Come to think of it, I do remember an instance when we spent time together: it was 1994, and our house was still being constructed. My father was home for a month. I made an improvised baseball using crumpled paper and masking tape, and played catch with my brother Tye. Papa approached with a wooden stick from the construction so we could use it to play baseball. And until the sky dimmed that day, we enjoyed playing with our makeshift ball and relished the time we spent with our father, just like a regular family.


Stunning Pinoy Author Thadie Hinunagan
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