The call to fatherhoodBy Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
Cebu Daily News
Yesterday’s celebration of Father’s Day came with a shower of greetings and recollections about the male side of parenting, a role oftentimes associated with mothers. When attached to fathers, the part comes with some derision because in our macho society, parenting or rearing children is always part of a woman’s world, to borrow a few lines from a song. We grew up with the stereotype that a father’s main task is to provide for the family’s needs and running a household is best left under the care of mothers.
I grew up in an environment that does not encourage demonstration of affection and emotions, but recalling the sacrifices of my own father to raise our family, I begin to understand why this celebration is sometimes referred to as the second Christmas season.
Fathers are not perfect, but the best lesson that my father taught me was hard work. I remember that despite his small salary as a court interpreter, he managed to pay for a monthly newspaper and news magazine subscription. He was an avid political observer who read daily newspapers and magazines like The Free Press, Graphic, etc. These materials broadened my vocabulary and taught me to be conscious of national events. I’m truly grateful for my father’s influence in my life.
The current wave of globalization coupled with technology has upset many traditional beliefs and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Filipino family. As pointed out by a top official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the country is seeing the rise of Filipino househusbands or spouses left behind to take care of the household and the children. According to reports, more than half of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who leave the country annually are women who end up working as domestic helpers.
This phenomenon has been going on for the last two decades or so, fueled by globalization trends. Wealthy countries like the ones in the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong, and in many countries in Europe like France and Italy are hosts to Filipina domestic helpers who practically work round the clock. From my personal interaction with a Filipina au pair in Paris, I learned their monthly take could reach as high as P70,000. This entails juggling two jobs or rendering work even on Sundays.
The new found financial independence has improved the lives of many families but the downside of a family with an absentee mother has caused a lot of social problems, from juvenile delinquency, philandering and incest in some cases where husbands are left with adolescent daughters. The social costs are so staggering that even Church leaders find it difficult to comment on the problem.
Father Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) told the Inquirer there was nothing to be ashamed of in being a “househusband” although it reverses the traditional roles of married men and women in raising their families. Fr. Corros said the role reversal should prod husbands to do their share, “by doing the work that is normally being done by women at home so as to also contribute in improving their family life.”
As this developed, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman has confirmed that there is a rise in the number of Filipino youth involved in drug trafficking. The startling news was first issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in its report citing that many youngsters in Western Visayas are acting as mules for drug syndicates.
The agency has described the involvement of minors in the drug trade as a growing trend seen in the last few years, adding that criminal syndicates are trying to exploit the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. R.A. 9344 exempts minors 15 years old and below from criminal liability, and only allows criminal punishment for minors above 15 to below 18 but the provision comes with a clause that criminal punishment is allowable if it is proven that the minors acted with discernment.
The situation has prompted Soliman to urge local government units to step up their efforts to contain the drug problem, but I think this is a problem that needs to be assessed in the context of the family. Previous reports say Western Visayas has a large number of OFWs who work as domestic helpers, meaning, many families are left under the care of fathers and relatives.
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