Eight women on the most important lessons they learned from their fathers

Gender biases aside, the fact is that we probably look to our mothers and grandmothers for tips on how to be beautiful. As kids we watch how they do their makeup, apply treatments to their hair, and carefully polish their nails. It's easy to forget that our dads have also taught us about beauty, one that time and wrinkles can never ravage.

This Father's Day, we're celebrating the first men in our lives by remembering the valuable life lessons that they've imparted. Thanks to them, we are women who are beautiful inside and out.

Tata Pedrosa-Albert on her dad, Ramon Pedrosa

I am the youngest of six. My eldest sister is 13 years my senior, and my closest birth-order sibling is 7 years older than me. That means that by the time my folks got to me, they were, well, you can say, chill. By the time I was 19, all my siblings had been married off. I got to experience what it was like to be an only child and it was glorious! I received 100% of their attention (whenever they weren't with their grandkids) and I was often with my dad.

My boyfriend of four years proposed when I was a junior in college, and in my senior year, my crazy boyfriend, who had gotten really close to my dad, asked for my hand in marriage. Crazy! I remember it was Christmas Eve and my boyfriend had invited my dad for a steak dinner in House of Mini’s. That was considered snazzy for someone on a school allowance. I thought my dad was going to freak. Instead, he looked at me with slightly teary eyes, and gave his blessing. I asked him if he was at all worried since we were so young, and that we had wanted to get married right out of college. He said, “Do you think it gets any easier when you get older? Do you think it’s going to cost less to have a family if you wait until you’re 30? If you love each other this much, you’re ready.” And just like that, he gave me away.

We were married by age 21, and had 3 kids by the time I was 26. Fast forward to today and I’m 44. My eldest is working and the 2 younger ones are in college. Family life is amazing. My husband and I still meet with my dad every week for a brewskie and a slab of meat and he looks at me with what looks like unbridled pride. In these meet-ups, we laugh, reminisce, complain about this and that, and talk about his favorite topic: my kids. I ask for advice, he gives me his thoughts and he tells me I’m doing good. No, he tells me I’m doing great. “I was never able to take you and your brothers and sisters out of the country together, but you did. I’m so proud you’re able to keep your family together and still enjoy each other.” He holds my hand with his tight but leathery grip. His silver-capped tooth catches the light when he smiles at me. I suppose he was right. I loved enough, and was ready.

Ria Comsti-Rivera on her dad, Eric Comsti

Being the youngest child and only daughter in the family, my dad taught me to be one of the boys, if not better. He taught me everything he taught my brothers, from cleaning cars and painting the walls, to managing finances and balancing checkbooks, all of which were considered roles of men in the household. He also sat me down for many drinking sessions to find out my alcohol limit, believing that he regretfully will not always be around to protect me. Responsibility for myself, my family, and people I care about was top priority. Of the most important lessons, I live by three.

The first was taught by my grandfather to him: to always take care of your name. Never let it be tainted because it will be carried by generations to come. Always use it not to gain advantage but to always do good. Second is to help others without seeking recognition and anything in return. Help discreetly but passionately and sincerely. Lastly, my dad knows how to make fun of himself and to laugh at life. Not to "live a little", but live a lot. For all these and more, I am grateful to be my daddy's girl.

Christina Campaña-Bengzon on her dad, Dr. Joey Campaña

My dad is a doctor, which goes without saying that he is my ultimate role model for being a hard worker. Everything I learned from my dad was by example, and seeing him come home from a long day, always tired, barely enjoying his late night TV viewing (because he falls asleep midway without fail) were indications of how much effort he puts into his profession. 

My dad is a hard worker, but it's what motivates him to keep going that I take with me as my greatest lesson - family first. My dad taught me that sacrifice is 100% unconditional love through the many little things he's done over the years. Sacrifice is the reason that despite his late hours at work, he comes home with a bucket of KFC or asks me if I want to have a midnight snack delivered. Sacrifice is the reason he'll adjust his schedule to give way to our activities for the day. Family is what keeps him going and making sure that we are safe and happy will always be his number one priority.

Rita Mesina-Alvaera on her dad, Rolando Mesina

The best thing I learned from my dad is the value of keeping the family together. I come from a big extended family, and it is pretty obvious to me that my dad is the glue that binds us all. Whenever I'd meet some relatives for the first time, they always have something awesome to say about my dad and how he's very close to his uncles, aunts, and cousins. To me, that's fantastic. He is everybody's "Kuyang", the eldest brother who's always there whenever you needed him. For him, it is important to maintain good family ties, because at the end of the day, your family's all you've got.    

Annette Ferrer on her dad, Tony Ferrer, PhD

My dad is a retired English Literature professor from Ateneo and former dean of Kalayaan College, Bataan. He is also a judo and aikido black belt who is one of the founders of the Ateneo Aikido Club. Since his retirement and stroke about 10 years ago, he has been living a quiet life in Bataan, reading books, watching films, and being thesis adviser to the occasional college student.

My parents had separated before I was born, and for a time, we lived in the US while my father was left here. But when we moved back, we would see him regularly. Every Sunday, he, my sister, and I would go out as a family - usually to catch the latest movie in the theater and eat out at Pizza Hut. By being there for my sister and I despite my parents' break up, he demonstrated to us how important and loved we were. Marriages break up sometimes, but the children will always be the priority. There are ex-partners, ex-wives, ex-husbands, but never ex-children. He did right by us by being there, and also putting us through school.

Papa is also a segurista - I think this is partly his personality, partly his martial arts training. He would always point out "practical" but "looked over things" in the house or in life. For example, you should always have a working flashlight in the house and in the car; always have a back up tank of gasul for the kitchen so you don't have to wait for the supplier if you run out; always keep a spare card of load in your wallet so you can always make calls. His attitude, to use my boyfriend's words, is "Never be caught flat-footed." 

Growing up, I remember asking my dad's opinion on stuff, and being frustrated by his answer: "Ikaw bahala. / Your call." It would be annoying and frustrating because I was looking for a concrete answer, say if I should pursue this or that course in college. Later, later on, he recounted to me one of his disagreements with my mom."We would go to  your uncle's house sometime, and your mom and your tita would gather around the table and talk about what they wanted for their kids - how they wanted so and so to be a lawyer, so and so to be a doctor. I did not join those conversations. I never had any dreams for my children because children will have their own dreams; let them have their own dreams." And so, only years later do I understand why he would answer me that way, sometimes.

Frustrating and unhelpful as it felt as a kid to have "Ikaw bahala" as an answer to advice-seeking, maybe there was a point - and it was to be forced to look into myself and what things I really want in life and make those decisions. It was/is my dad's way of encouraging me to live my life according to my own rules, and not a parents' bidding.

Peachy Paderna on her dad, Reynaldo Paderna

Some people assume that my father must have been an agreeable, enabling character, considering how I'm all over the place now. And everyone who knows Dad tells me what a comedian he is, how he was always up to some mischief. In truth, my father was near-dictatorial in raising us. I was forever vexing him by talking back when scolded or asking too many questions or breaking the occasional rule (which my sister never did). I got belted a fair bit.

So it was the greatest irony that - in such a controlling environment - Dad lectured me frequently on how I must learn to live on my own terms, how I should conduct my relationships as I pleased. When I was in grade school, I wept to him that I never fit in. "Why do you care? You shouldn't care," he would bark, before turning his attention to the kare-kare he was making. Dad makes the most incredible kare-kare in the world. 

I didn't know it then, but growing up with a father of such strange extremes would school me on navigating the world's own polarities, on hefting yourself against the limits to see if they would break for you, on living only as you would choose - and always with a heart of agency and humor. 

Mitzi Alojipan-Molina on her dad, Dr. Bob Alojipan

It’s honestly quite difficult to answer this question because Tatay taught me many things about life and how to deal with it - there’s a lot to choose from. But I guess if there’s something to single out, it would be kindness. When I was younger he would always tell me that “While it’s good to be right, sometimes it’s better to be kind, rather than to be right.” I never quite understood this statement until I was in my twenties. I was experiencing a tremendous hardship and I was shown a simple act of kindness in the midst of a seemingly unbreakable process and established system. After that, I knew where Tatay was coming from and Tatay was right. Kindness matters especially when things are tough, and it goes a long way. 

Tanya Blay on her dad, Raul Blay

When i was a kid, I was able to get an exclusive view of the world of advertising with production in mind. I got to go to an ad agency and check out what the creatives were doing, observe and even be part of TVC shoots, I was even able to do some voice over gigs.

To be a kid at a shoot, you observe what’s happening. You see the director showing the agency the screen, sharing the intent for that specific shot. The Acting Director, screaming his lungs out to get all the crew to do their jobs double time while motivating his actors. The production manager and his PAs scrambling to make sure that everything is in place, readying the next shot so that no time is wasted. The creatives, adjusting the script on the spot. The accounts people aligning everything with clients. The utility guy, making sure that everyone’s belly is filled and that the adults get their coffee fix to appease their stress. The driver taking a nap in the van, because you just know he had the earliest call time… I can go on and on. 

But what stood out to me was the producer, who would wear different hats and take on different roles that day. He would get you coffee if he felt you needed one. He’d remind the team of little details that was agreed on. He would give ideas for alternate shots so that you’ll have editing options. He also served as a punching bag when things go awry. In a snap he’d morph into an accounts person, a creative, the utility guy. With all that had to be done, that producer guy, who at the end of the longest and most stressful of shooting days, would take his time to thank everyone – and I mean everyone – for a job well done.

Three things I learned from that producer:  

  • When you serve, go beyond what is asked of you. There is no such thing as a menial task.
  • Be prepared to adapt in a snap! 
  • Say "thank you". It means a lot to the people you work with. Also note, that when you say it, MEAN IT. 

And to tie it all together, look pretty damn good while you're at it. It doesn't hurt to be stylish while you werk, werk, werk.

That producer guy? He’s my dad.