My dad is now 64 years old. Still married to my mom Aurora, and he still kicks like a horse! Three of his four kids are now finished with their college studies, working, and are all technically married. I wont get into detail into why I said that.
This blog is about my dad. My great dad Jules Amper. In the point of view of some people, they might see my dad as a failure, or an unsuccessful man. And to a degree, there may be truth in those statements. But amidst all our frustrations I choose not to look at his shortcomings, rather, I chose to celebrate all his accomplishments...thus my blog.
Let me begin with his very first success... he made all four of us siblings possible! His sperm cells were indeed strong swimmers, and all of us are normal, awesome kids! Its only now that my wife and I realize that its not that easy to make kids. That is a feat on its own!
Next, it is by providing us siblings and my mom the love and the financial support we needed growing up as kids. I know with all my heart that Papa worked hard (and enjoyed too) abroad and sacrificed a lot just to get my mom a good, nice life. In fairness to my mom, she could manage equally well (if not better) if she were alone!!! She's a toughie, that's for sure.
I'll write more of my personal experiences with my dad and inject some stuff including my siblings. So, the earliest recollection of my dad is that I admired his singing voice and how he drew pictures. I was amazed as a kid and I always wanted to be like him. I practiced drawing and I tried to make them as lifelike as I could. About singing, I admired his confidence and how he drew listeners to his guitar playing and his great voice. I also breezed through a lot of his songbooks where he hand-wrote all the songs he loved, cowboy songs, Spanish songs, folk songs, etc. I remember listening to the car stereo of our old red Lancer as we sped through the former smooth Marcos Hi way, and I loved hearing my dad sing Spanish songs and I sang them quietly with him.
Another thing I learned from him early on, is him faithfully bringing us to our church. I hated church when I was a kid, all the kids smelled terrible and my Sunday school teachers were boring, and they prayed too long. Besides, Sunday mornings were cartoons time and it was so hard to get dressed and squeeze into our tiny car. However, I did learn a lot of stuff (basically because the stories were constantly repeated!) and I found great friends at church. But my dad put great value in spiritual things as he invested in books I loved to read as a child, such as Children's Literature and the Bible Stories. Man, I loved those stories. They told the Biblical accounts in such a way that you wont forget them and as a result you'll know them by heart! That's one reason I got bored with Sunday School...
Another thing he did for me was getting us books about sciences and arts. I believe he wanted us to become smart kids, as he and Mama bought us encyclopedias! I remember Papa helping us with the Cyclo-Teacher Learning Aid, and patiently assisted us and checked our answer sheets. He always said "Correct Nicanor!" whenever I got a right answer. Not only that, but my Papa always had a way to explain concepts to us with the use of illustrations and also a system of teaching. He taught me the concept of human reproduction(among many other concepts like Space, history, etc). By the way, about the reproductive "process", I clearly remember reacting: "You mean you and Mama did that?! Yuck!!"
He also handmade our flash cards and constantly drilled us with math and he even bought maps so we could be familiar with the cities of the world and of the Philippines. He also bought us listening tapes from Rodolfo Torres, which helped us big time in our reading, diction, math, etc. Aside from that, he also invested in buying tapes of Kids Praise, where I owe my English speaking skills and diction, which is only secondary to the lessons those tapes taught me about God, His people, His Word, and Christian values...and also SINGING!!! He brought us to Meralco to watch the free film showings, and just enjoy a day at the bowling alley and the billiards, also in the tennis courts and the canteen.
I also loved the way Papa encouraged us to go hiking and appreciate nature. I always looked forward to those hiking trips as a kid. We walked and walked, and we went to places where we could swim and climb trees.
I also remember my Papa teaching me to play basketball, tennis, baseball (we always threw catch in front of our house) and he sent me and my brother to Karate and Taekwondo schools, basketball clinics, tennis clinics, etc. He also loved to tickle us and make us step on his back. I always remember the "octopus" where he wrapped all four of his limbs plus his head for added "grip" over us and counted to ten. By that time we must escape or else he would tickle us!
He taught me how to ride a bike, how to drive, how to solve my homework assignments. He made us a beautiful model house for my brother's assignment and he always paid attention to precision and detail. He worked carefully slow but very professional and clean. He always helped me in making my parol (Christams Lantern), and in almost all my art projects he assisted and guided me so I could develop my own creativity.
About music, he taught me everything. And though he didnt directly teach me guitar, we used HIS guitar when we practiced. Oh, he did teach me a classical piece "romanza de amor", the year I started learning guitar. More than Words was next, but my brother taught me that. He and Mama bought me a nicer guitar (after I broke the previous one), and they encouraged me to join our church's praise team in my senior year in High School.
I pretty much owe him everything I am because he enrolled me in Ateneo as a grade school student, fixed all the necessary procedures to get us into Manila Science High School, and also for me, he was the one who suggested to me that I try UP College of Music, playing the cello.
As I grew up, of course the picture of a perfect Dad faded and as an adult, you slowly replace the beautiful image to an image of all the things you don't want to be. But in reality, my dad was a great dad. Much less, a great man. He instilled in me a deep love for music, science and arts. But one of the most beautiful gift he gave us was his faithfulness to my mom. And they stuck together through thick and thin... mostly thin... and I would always see the constant nights where my Papa would take mama in his arms and dance with her. They sang duets together, and they always kissed each other. What a dad.
I love him and I will always be proud of him. I'm not half the man he is, mostly because I will never be him, 'coz I'm a different person! But all those beautiful lessons he taught us I will try to teach my kids. And my prayer is that he would always show his bright smile and encourage others around him to cheer up and live life!