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7 things my papa taught me (so far)

02:06 PM June 17, 2017


To me, there is no greater storyteller in this world than my father. We share stories of historical conspiracies and extraordinary historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great and Joan of Arc. He paints pictures for me using his life experiences—and boy, what a life he’s led so far.

My father is a short man with big dreams. A jack of all trades, Papa brings the term “self-taught” to a whole new level. There is nothing he can’t learn once he’s set his mind to it. He has figured his way through Spanish, Italian, French, a little bit of Japanese
—enough to get around various modes of public transportation and order a good meal with a cold beer.

He is, and has always been, my very own Master Yoda (though he looks more like Jabba the Hutt).


Here are the little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up from him over the years.

1) You are your own person.

I am often told that I am the female version of my father; we look and act alike. Though I am made up of both the good and bad things of my father and mother, Papa always reminds me that I am far more than just my genetic makeup.

He reminds me to constantly break the mold and chase after my own dreams and passions, to make this life my own.

2) The best part of traveling is coming home.

It took me a long time to really understand what this quote meant. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the thought that the end of a trip was supposedly the best part about it. It seemed sad for an adventure to be over.

It’s true that you find yourself when traveling, and I’ve definitely had my own soul-searching moments while exploring a new city. But when all is said and done, there is no greater comfort in knowing that all the roads I take afterward will lead me back home.

3) Follow through, always.


“Finish what you started.” If I got a brick for every time I heard my papa says this, I could’ve built a house.

I’ve been known to start new hobbies, projects or sports and end up dropping them (much to my father’s annoyance) once I get bored midway.

Now that I’m older, I value the importance of staying true to my word. Sorry it took so long, Pa.

4) Life doesn’t care about your life plans.

My father’s college life revolved around his supposed career path: medicine. Knee-deep in med school, he realized that it just wasn’t the profession he wanted.

At the age of 26, he started over, learning the rules of business and negotiation from both his successes and failures. My father has a knack for mastering new things at the snap of a finger.

I often go back to this story when I feel lost. Time and again, without fail, it has given me the courage to start all over again.

5) Someone will always be better than you, and that’s okay.

I beat myself up for days if I get a test result slightly lower than all my classmates’ grades. I’d be completely inconsolable.

It’s a little thing, I know, but for the longest time I couldn’t let go of the so-called defeat. Papa’s tough love helped me get over this ridiculous habit. “Let it go and do better next time, there’s no point crying over spilled milk,” was all he’d say to knock some sense into me.

6) Listen to jazz.

It is 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning and I am in the passenger seat of Papa’s favorite restored car. He is right beside me, fiddling with the radio again, trying to find the perfect station.

After a few minutes, he settles for one that was playing Al Jarreau. Typical. Ever since I was a little girl, jazz has been the soundtrack of my Sundays.

I used to hate it, I’d get lost in all the different beats or the scats and end up getting frustrated.

A couple of years ago, during one of our usual Sunday drives, I impatiently asked my father why it was always jazz we listened to. He answered, “Jazz brings out creativity—there is an order to the chaos, you’ll see.”

It took me a long while, but I now am able to find the erratic calm in jazz music.

7) Grab every opportunity.

When I was younger, Papa didn’t have the best track record for attending school plays, parent-teacher conferences or even my first Holy Communion.

But even as Papa was always busy with work, he has always been there when it mattered.
There were sacrifices he had to make that I wasn’t even aware of—until I got older.

He always says, “I work hard so that you have the chance to chase after every dream you have, I want you to have the opportunities I didn’t.”

Happy Father’s Day to my main man, my toughest critic and my best ally. Thank you for showing me the world and teaching me to love and learn from every curveball that life throws my way.

My achievements are yours and Mama’s, too. In a room full of strangers, you drown out every bit of white noise, and all I hear are your cheers and encouragement. I love you!

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TAGS: #YouthVoice, Father, Father's Day, student essay
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