Tatay does not have a lot of money. He does not have a building of his own to house his striving business. All he owns is his little home nested back in the barrio. If you happen to find Tatay who loves walking around at night under the luxury of light of the stars, you will notice how incredibly simple he is. He often finds comfort in wearing tattered shirts and worn out slippers. He loves his washed out shorts. The wallet he rarely opens is probably the one he had when he was working on his fourth or fifth job.
Tatay is 65 years old. He has worked in jobs you never knew existed.
Tatay’s lifestyle practically screams poor. However, he is, in fact, ridiculously rich. Which is why I would, with much passion, want to campaign my father to be placed in his rightful post as The Richest Man in the World.
A lot of people may not know it, but Tatay has a safe. Unlike any other safe, however, his does not obviously involve money or land titles. His safe houses an incredibly rich library of principles, culture and spirit. I do not think I should be writing about it, but I am most certain it is strategically locked in his head. All Tatay ever does to gain access is to think.
Tatay is not selfish with his wealth. Everybody who knows him is fortunate enough to take a peek at what is inside his head. Tatay can engage in a long conversation that scopes from your marriage problems to political propaganda, just give him a cup of coffee, and a comfy chair. He can empathize, and he can criticize, whichever is deemed necessary. Tatay is rich with his relationship with people. Try shaking hands with him, it will feel as if he’s running for office.
To go on with our list, Tatay also happens to be rich with talent. Tatay has a voice that booms across the room, a posture so dignified it defies his scoliosis, and a mastery of the English and Filipino language that may leave your mouth gaping open. Tatay is an incredible orator. He is often chosen to roleplay an important character in a FreeMason initiation, coach a winning debate team, or deliver a speech that actually gets to people.
While a considerable number of orators struggle with melody, Tatay does not. Tatay can belt out his favorite Frank Sinatra with his deep voice or join the iconic bobbing heads of the The Beatles with his boyish guitar tunes. His wonderful singing has earned admiration from his peers that “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is already reserved for his karaoke pleasure. You should expect nothing less from a member of The Jugheads, his high school band. He was forming bands before it was cool.
None of these talents would have been possible if it were not for his incredibly rich understanding of culture. He gets his culture from books and he pledges to read the printed world. Tatay is a huge bookworm. He keeps books as old as time and reads them before his afternoon siesta in the couch. He acknowledges the fact that books can open doors for him. Even though he never had the money to finance his travels, he always seemed that he had already seen the world. His reading made him a open-minded man. He is so open-minded that it never bothered him that our family is a mix of different forms of faith.
There is one thing, though, that truly separates Tatay from those who are financially rich. Tatay is rich with principles. In the span of my entire life I have met people, men, women from all walks of life, and none of them impressed me the way Tatay did with his principles. His were simple and not really out of the ordinary. What made them different was the fact that Tatay believed that no matter how young a person is, nobody should be excused from them. One, respect our elders. Two, take care of the family. Three, never spend above your means. Four, observe integrity in everything that you do. Finally, five, never lose hope.
However, all of these are minuscule compared to how rich Tatay is with spirit. Tatay is the most courageous, high-spirited man in the world. His life story has survived trials of separation, unemployment, illness, and poverty. Nevertheless, when you meet him flashing his mega-watt smile, welcoming you with wide open arms and wrinkled happy eyes, you will not even remember that I told you he underwent a heart attack and a stroke. I tell you, that man never gives up.
That is how rich Tatay is. Nobody’s money will ever compare to the richness of my father as a person, as a man and as a father.
Tatay is so rich with love that no matter how tough times get, Tatay will never ever ignore me when I want him to read my horrible excuse for a story. Tatay will not hesitate to smack Kuya Kim in the nape if Kuya did something atrociously stupid or shake his hand when he does something wonderful. Tatay will always cater to and support Hiram’s success. Tatay will do all means to show Ate Zara his enthusiasm over her passion. Tatay will always have Kuya Jay-Jay’s back no matter what happens. Tatay will always make fun of Nanay and tease here and hug her and assure her that everything will be alright, just what he always does to all of us.
And it doesn’t just stop there. We will make Tatay richer and richer with all the love we will pour to him.
Even if he needs a cane to walk or an assistant to translate what he’s saying, nothing can ever stop the richest man in the world from doing his thing.
We love you, Tatay! Thank you for being so awesome! Happy Fathers’ Day!