Filipinos Celebrating Father’s Day, Special Memories of Fatherhood

by Edwin Quinabo

What to do? Where to go? And what to get as a gift? The families of an estimated 72 million fathers in the U.S. are brainstorming these questions as Father’s Day approaches. Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. This year it falls on June 18.  

By serendipity, the third Sunday in June falls on or near the summer solstice, which is the longest daylight in the year and when summer officially kicks-off. Fatherhood fittingly embodies the season of summer. A father is the longest daylight of optimism. He is like the sun – bright and powerful – a life force to his family.

A father is a hero to many families. He is a provider and a source of inspiration — not the kind of in-the-moment only inspiration from a movie or social media meme.  His inspiration sticks with us from our formative ones to the wildly imaginative teens and into our idealistic early adult years. A father’s and mother’s inspiration are believed to be lasting because they have that intuitive alchemic touch to transform the lives of their children.

It’s not through words alone that father’s inspire their children, but through consistent modeling of behavior, leading by example that psychologists say are the most effective way to teach their children.

In folkloric fashion as seen through generations, in time learned behavior becomes instinctual and it’s said we commonly become our parents, or at least a lot like them. It’s not written in stone, but sons become similar fathers and daughters marry spouses who exhibit similar qualities, psychologists say.

The first Father’s Day celebration was started in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910, by Sonora Dodd. She wanted a special day to honor her father William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson assigned a day for Father’s Day. Then in 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a law making it a permanent national holiday.

Father’s Day is less commercialized but not undervalued when compared to the festivities of Mother’s Day.

It’s a day most families will show gratitude and love to their fathers for all their sacrifice and selflessness, their steadfastness to pressure and rise to responsibility. As adult children, it’s at this point that many come to fully understand the tremendous role of fatherhood and the lasting imprint it has had in building character and influence on the careers they’ve chosen.

Father’s Day is not all emotionally charged and sentimental. Children often say the most memorable Father’s Days were good old fashion fun. Key to that enjoyment usually involves the simple act of getting together as a family and knowing what your father enjoys doing. The gifts showered are secondary to the laughter, hugs, stories, and for Filipinos, the karaoke.

Unlike mothers who enjoy going to a restaurant for Mother’s Day, fathers relish home gatherings, a dinner or lunch is the ideal activity. Fathers are said to enjoy barbecuing for their families. Beyond that, fathers enjoy relaxing on their special day, experts say. Instead of getting up at the crack of dawn, dads like to sleep in for an extra hour or two, take an afternoon guilt-free nap, guilt-free TV time or get a pass on weekend chores. Experts say planning activities are good, but not overplanning that could take away time for rest from the typically super busy dad looking forward to respite from the daily grind.

Ideal gifts, what are they? Dads like to save money which is why tools and materials for do-it-yourself projects would be appreciated. Stereotypical but practically universal, dads like, or in some cases obsess over, sports. If your dads are still under 40 years old, a trip to the sporting goods store can still be an option to purchase golf clubs, workout equipment or professional teams’ sports jerseys. Beyond 40, men’s clothing stores are good gift-buying destinations. Fathers of all ages love electronics and high-tech goods from phones to PCs to tablets.

By now you know your father best, what gift worked in the past but just needs to be updated, what gift was followed by an awkward-sounding thank you with a sigh. Remember the rule of thumb: a gift out of the ordinary, a surprise gift is a gamble. It could be a legendary homerun your father could be talking about for ages. Or it could be the euphemistic, “thank you, but you shouldn’t have comment” that suggests, “you could have done better.”

The Joaquins
Reflecting on fatherhood, Nicholai Joaquin, 37, former Hawaii resident now living in New York, said his father Nicanor Joaquin, a retired physician, gave him the gift of music appreciation growing up and influenced him to pursue a career in music.

“Since I was a baby, I remember my dad filling the house with music–whether he was rehearsing the choir selection for the upcoming Sunday church service, singing along to Beatles tracks on his karaoke laser discs, or accompanying himself at the piano while crooning a Broadway ballad. 

“These early memories–of both music and mettle–deeply influenced me. I dared to pursue a music degree in college, and I built my career on knowledge of the repertoire I had first discovered in my family’s living room. In my late 20s and early 30s, I served as the Director of Artistic Operations at The New York Pops, where I produced orchestral concerts at Carnegie Hall. During countless rehearsals, I would marvel at the fact that so many songs that I was listening to, as they were being performed on the world’s most celebrated concert stage, I had first learned from my father.”

Nicholai said his father grew up just outside of Manila with larger-than-life ambitions. “After making his way through medical school in the Philippines, he moved to Baltimore, MD for his residency work. I can only imagine the tenacity that it took for a young Filipino man to dare to leap over those geographic and cultural borders.”

Besides being a busy internist, Dr. Joaquin is an active humanitarian and community leader. He is former President of the Philippine Medical Association of Hawaii (PMAH) and former President of the Bayanihan Clinic Without Walls (BCWW). He’s been a cast member fixture of the Doctors on Stage musical productions which serve as the main fundraiser for BCWW.

Nicholai shares a story on his father’s sense of humanity. “My dad has retired from his medical career. But when he was an active physician, he owned the building where his private practice was located. In front of the building there was a dumpster. Every so often, one particular unhoused man would rummage through the garbage, looking for something to eat. My dad did not ask this man to leave his property. He shook this man’s hand, bought him food, and–on at least one occasion–invited him to the office holiday party. 

“I will always remember how my dad honored the humanity of that man, even when the rest of the world had written him off,” Nicholai said.

“My father has a thirst for life. He will always find a reason to dress up, to elevate an event. He loves to travel to far-flung places. And you will likely find him making new friends, no matter where he goes. That deep passion has long been planted in me. Inspired by him, I had the audacity to pursue a life in the arts in New York. (He even accompanied me to Manhattan on my college auditions.) And today, here I am: my personal dream–and his legacy–fulfilled. Thank you for making it all happen, Dad. Happy Father’s Day,” Nicholai said.

Dr. Joaquin looks forward to Father’s Day as a dad with his 7 children from two marriages: Nikki, Noelani, Torey, Alexi, Nicholai, Bubba and Desiree. He typically spends Father’s Day first going to church to thank God for all his and his family’s blessings. Following that he’d have a luncheon with his children and grandchildren living in Hawaii. Then have a video conference with his other children living in the mainland.

Dr. Joaquin shared one of his most memorable Father’s Day. “It happened on my birthday.  My four children living in Hawaii Nikki, Noelani, Alexi and Desiree gave me a birthday party. Each of them wore my clothing:  Nikki, a choir gown, Noelani, a Barong Tagalog, Alexi, tennis outfit and Desiree, my office wear of long sleeve shirt and matching necktie.

On fatherhood, Dr. Joaquin said, “My role as a father is to be a good provider and send my children to school in their chosen career.” He also believed in taking frequent family vacations.

He elaborates on his children:  Nicholette (Nikki), is an attorney, married to Jayson Byelotzer, they have a son Jacoby, 13; Noelani is an Emergency Room nurse, married to Wally Tillery, and they have three children Aiko, 21,  Pomaikai, 19 and Kekoa 15; Torey is a Criminal Justice Swat Team for Seattle Federal Prison, she adopted a daughter Emily 20 years old; Alexi is in Business Administration, married to Pam Nakayama, they have a son Jude 4 years-old; Nicholai, graduated cum laude. New York, double majored in Performing Arts and Ethnic Musicology, he has a partner Jake; Doneliza  is in Urban Planning, married to Yev Yankov; and Desiree, is in Elementary Education, single.

“With the help of my wife Imelda, we raised the children to love each other,” Dr. Joaquin said.

Like Nicholai, Nicholette, 48, Honolulu, mentions her father’s love for the performing arts. “He is always singing, dancing, or learning an instrument. I think he wishes he were a Broadway star. My husband is a professional musician. I could tell he earned my father’s respect when he did a good job singing at a family karaoke session. Karaoke or sing-a-longs around the piano are one of our favorite family traditions. The arts are so important to my dad. When I was performing in high school plays, he would always send a big bunch of roses backstage for me.”

She said her father’s patients respected and valued her father. “He would get a lot of gifts from them. The patients would often bring food and fruit. One time one of his patients gave him a live goat.

“I could always see how hard my father worked to build his business and provide for his family. I always try to have that same level of dedication to my family,” Nicholette said.

The Casaminas
Chanel Casamina, 33, daughter of Roland Casamina (President, House of Finance) said for her family Father’s Day is an all-day affair. “Our dad has never been one for big gifts or extravagant parties. What he enjoys most is quality time with the family, so on Father’s Day, we gather the whole family together from breakfast till dinner and celebrate simply by being together,” she said.

Chanel’s siblings are Matthew (44), Clarice (36), Celine (30), Oahu, Hawaii. She said, “If we had to sum up our relationship with our dad, it is that we have always heard how influential he has been as a leader in our community, how savvy he is with business, and how hard working he is. But to us, his kids, and grandkids, he is the man who will lend his shirt when we need to blow our noses but don’t have a tissue, the man who shows up at all of our games and performances, the man who makes us saimin in the morning, and walks our dogs so that we can rest after getting home from work at night. He built his successes from the ground up and has so many accomplishments to be proud of, but when you ask him what he is proudest of, his answer is consistently ‘his kids.’”

Roland describes what also happens on Father’s Day. To begin, his wife gets up early to prepare a special breakfast. He gets one greeting card signed by his wife, children and grandchildren. They also get him a gift separately on their own.

“I am very lucky to have a loving wife, and loving children.  The best part I love about Father’s Day are the lengthy messages from each one,” he said.

Roland said what’s important for him on Father’s Day is that all his children and grandchildren come together at the same time. “It’s really how close and caring they all are. It just makes me so happy to see those moments. It’s not too often that we can get together all at the same time.”

He said, “each time we get together, it reminds me of how my father always appreciated each one of us.  I always tell my kids, now I know how Papang (my dad) feels.”

Roland is proud of his four children. Two of his oldest work with him at House of Finance. The third child is a doctor at Queen’s hospital. The youngest works as a management consultant, advising strategies for client companies.

Chanel recalls one of her most memorable Father’s Day, “Dad’s favorite music was playing in the background – Dan Fogelberg, Petula Clark, Matt Monro, and a mix of classic 60’s tunes. He’d sing along to his favorite parts while mom danced through the kitchen, cooking up a feast of his favorite foods, enough for second and third servings plus leftovers for each of us to take home. The grandkids played in the living room while we, the kids, enjoyed the comfort of being at mom and dad’s house. We celebrated and shared memories of our grandfathers, funny stories of our childhood, and proud moments of Matt now being a father himself.”

The Casamina siblings sums up what fatherhood was like for their dad. “Our dad led by example, instilling in us the ethic of hard work and perseverance. He supported our personal interests and passions and encouraged us to do our best in anything we attempted. He emphasized the importance of an education. He showed us what it meant to make a positive impact in your community. He pulled from the wisdom of his own father and upbringing, including reminding us of the ‘golden rule’ – to always treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Judy Ilar
Judy Ilar, RN, BSN, RA, 56, works for Jerry Ilar Realty, a company her father Jerry founded nearly 40 years ago. She said her father is simple and just appreciates the simple gesture of a phone call or a quick visit. “What gives him great joy is seeing his children and grandchildren thrive. That’s Father’s Day to him.”

Judy is very close to her father, working with him and living with him and her mom. She said her father is a very patient man, a disciplinarian, a visionary.

She recalls life-changing words her father imparted when she was in high school. His advice to her was “to get a good education but don’t make it a goal to work for someone else for the rest of your life, you need to own your own business”. I didn’t know what he meant then, but I do now. That’s a timeless piece of wisdom that I have not forgotten and strive towards.  He raised his children to be self-reliant and not to be dependent on anyone, except God. Today, his grandchildren receive the same counsel and advice.”

Considering all that fathers do for their children all year round, one day of giving back and making him feel like the center of the universe isn’t too much to ask for. Happy Father’s day!

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