Father Echoes

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Yearly, and every third week of June, people, world-wide pause and extend tribute to a two -legged male creature often unassuming   but popularly called, “Pops,” or “Paps,” or “Papa,” or “Dad,” or “Daddy,” or “Father,” or “husband.”

In Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1, like other regions, this person is often simply called “Ama,” mere three letters but connote the ancient footsteps of culture and tradition of deep, filial respect for a person who, according to Genesis 2:21, God took one rib from him and eventually created to be Eve’s partner in life.

Thus, evolved through ages, husband and wife or father and mother, or simply parents’ tandem. If you want it said formally, they are called Mr. and Mrs.

Many celebrate Father’s Day, but forgotten in the limelight is the person who started a special day for fathers or husbands or “house bands,” if you want it stated that way. It was started by none other than a woman.

A lone female’s tribute to her own father and spun into a long-lasting pursuit for a certain day to give honor to all fathers in the world – regardless of color, creed or identity.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, from Spokane, Washington, USA, was merely 16 years old when her mother died, leaving her father a widower and left to raise Sonora and her five young brothers.

In 1909, Sonora was listening to a Mother’s Day celebration when it suddenly dawned upon her there was also a need to pay respect to fathers. She drew up a petition for Father’s Day, and reasoned it should be celebrated on her father’s birthday in June.

Over the next-half century, it was a 62 years campaign for Sonora, for Father’s Day to be nationally recognized. In 1972, a resolution was passed into law by the US Congress which called “on citizens to offer expressions of such day to the abiding love and gratitude which they bear for their fathers.”

Sonora is known as “Mother of Father’s Day.” Her campaign for a national law took the world by storm as countries in the world followed to the letter, the law. Father’s Day in the Philippines began to be recognized universally in the 1980’s.

Sonora died on March 22, 1978. Although white, she was also known by her fierce support and care for indigenous tribal Indians in the United States against discrimination.

Clearly a historical reverberation experienced by Sonora and, sadly, being repeated in lands like Cordillera, wherein even educators and non-CAR politicians have the presumptuous gall to slur highlander culture and tradition.

But back to Father’s Day.  Daily Laborer, often on the dusty or muddy trails covering events least given attention by other media outfits and transpiring in CAR and Region 1, had captured written footnotes of how highlander/ lowlander males evolved as fathers, experiences revealed in this issue, with consent from those who underwent these experiences, to give readers momentary smile about Father’s Day. There are three events presented here:

Scrape of Chagum Boliwes. This story was told by Chagum (an agriculturist) to Daily Laborer in 2017, when he was courting his wife, and related one evening in their home situated between   Pugo and Tuba municipalities of Benguet and La Union, while his wife sat nearby, knitted and listened to every word, her husband uttered to Daily Laborer.

Chagum started by saying: “There was that time I went to see this gal, (then he pointed to his wife sitting nearby), sat besides this gal (pointed to his wife again) and began to pour forth words of foreign poets that I couldn’t even understand, when, enters this gal’s father and said, Chagum, there is the door, and pointed at their door”.

Chagum continued: “So I got up from where I was seated, went to their door, shut it, came back, sat again and continued pouring forth foreign language to this gal (he, pointed his wife again).

“And this gal’s father said again, Chagum, there is the door. So, I stood up, went to the door and opened it wide”.

The gal’s father, a Cordilleran like Chagum, and lover of cowboy boots, according to Chagum, said, “Chagum, if you don’t get your ass out of this house ASAP (As Soon As Possible), I will consider you persona non grata.”

So, Chagum went out of that house that night, found the moon wasn’t shining, hidden by clouds.   The pigs didn’t squeak; they all went to rest.  He heard nothing except the thumping of his poor, wretched heart.

As Chagum went on his way, he heard whispering, saying, “Onwards Chagum, do not be discouraged, there is bright prospects ahead. “

So, he went home, got his guitar, came back to the gal’s house and sang one of those most sour-stirring music one ever heard.

When all at once the window opened, and this gal (pointed to his wife again) appeared and shouted, “Hoy Chagum, isardeng mo dayta panag- kantam, nu saan mu kayat nga pakbuwak   ti napodot nga danum dayta ulom!” (Stop your singing, else I scald your head with hot water).

Eventually, Chagum and the gal married. Chagum is now father to two girls and three boys.

Aloneness isn’t loneliness, as looked by Gaspar Aspi-ing in summer of 2016. This event happened in Buguias, when Daily Laborer chanced upon Aspi-ing tending his vegetable field. That time, his wife who always helped him farm, was hospitalized and worry gnawed at him. Yet he labored to gather the vegetables to be sold for use as hospital expense.

In the fields, Aspi-ing, as father, dwelt upon aloneness in Kankana-ey dialect and Daily Laborer strove hard putting his profound thoughts in English. During that conversation, Aspi-ing was in his late thirties, but spoke like a statesman about fatherhood. Here it is:

He said: “Happy, I am, who is estranged from the bustle of the world, enjoying the sweets of solitude. And conversation consists only with me and the vegetables. My sole ambition is mental tranquility with my family. And neither fears the inconsistency of fortune or the caprices of fate.”

“I try to be contented with myself, never a burden to anybody, never tried to make myself never under the disagreeable necessity of speaking against sentiments of others or feeling the effects of stubborn contradiction,” Aspi-ing explained.

“I look at laziness as a crime, look for conversation with my wife, my children and others of learning, not to displease but to learn from them so I can rest with tranquility and rise in the morning full of hope. Time with my family, I consider a blessing, in which my world is most confined. And if my time comes for me to part as father to my family, I don’t fear that time,” Aspi-ing said.

Tribute to Marvin Sengel Chagyo, a fine father, 2021. Daily Laborer pays last respect to the late Marvin Sengel Chagyo, from Barlig, Mountain Province, who passed away last June 2020. The memoriam given by his family said to Chagyo: “A gifted farmer, a cheerful soul, an honest man, and most of all, a loving father, Lolo, brother and a friend. . .”

Daily Laborer met Chagyo in the summer of 2018, in his farm planted with Ashitaba in barangay Long-long, La Trinidad, Benguet. And friendship blossomed.  Many in La Trinidad personally know Chagyo.

In one of our conversations, Chagyo spoke about fatherhood.  Daily laborer wrote down some of the thoughts of Chagyo. He said: “Among the various follies that man is constantly seeking is to be esteemed and spoken as a father. A father is joined in adult mature judgment and, an intimate acquaintance with the real world.”

“That his actions and concerns in real life, he acts with settled plans, betokening   in every point and circumstance. Sense, prudence and knowledge that renders him the delight of his family, friends and companions,” Chagyo explained.

In explaining why Chagyo stopped raising strawberries and concentrated on Ashitaba which wasn’t popular among Benguet farmers, Chagyo said, “To decide on this as father was hard. Maybe planting Ashitaba today is hard; tomorrow will be worse. But the day after tomorrow, there will be sunshine.”

Chagyo spoke as true father and friend. Chayo graduated from Benguet State University (BSU) when it was still called Mountain State Agricultural College (MSAC).  Many employees at BSU and others in La Trinidad  still remember Chagyo.

His loving wife, Edna, children and grandchildren are proud of him – forever a loving father and friend to the end.

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