The Many Faces of Fatherhood

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Fathers make parenthood look easy. They rule the roost with decisiveness, face obstacles with determination, and still find time to tickle their children into gurgles of laughter. But beneath their seemingly cool exterior are bundles of worries and fears for the creatures they love most in the world, their children. Meet eight men who are happy to share their adventures in fatherhood. [embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/126038582@N02/27694774806/in/photostream/%20title=AlfieManluloFatherhoodimg%20src=https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7321/27694774806_29ed40dd6f.jpg%20width=500%20height=500%20alt=AlfieManluloFatherhood/ascript%20async%20src=//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js%20charset=utf-8/script[/embed]

Alfie Manlulo Dad of Bianca, 19, and triplet girls Alexandra, Juliana, and Sofia, 13

The father of four beautiful girls, Alfie says fatherhood changed his priorities and outlook in life. He says, “It’s different when you’re responsible for a family, especially children.”

Fatherhood has also given him so much joy. He likes chatting with his daughters, talking about their favorite things and what they’re up to at school.

“I love hearing about their day, what’s up with their fave movies or TV series, or who’s famous in YouTube. I used to set aside a day each month to spend with them individually. It can be going to the movies or biking at the park. I haven’t done that in awhile as work schedules and school load clash. But I definitely love those bonding moments,” he says.

But the best thing about fatherhood, Alfie says, is seeing his daughters grow up into fine human beings. He adds, though, “Sometimes as a father, you tend to forget that you’re also a person. You set aside your own interests for your family. Also, as a father to daughters, I dread the age when they all start dating.”

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Dan Santos Dad of David, 7, and Noah, 3

“Every mother or father knows that becoming a parent changes people,” says Dan.

“Parents are somewhat given a new perspective in life and these perspectives can be different for mothers and fathers. Fatherhood in particular has changed me a lot as it gave me a sense of responsibility and a drive to become a role model for my kids.”

Dan loves doing everything with his boys. He likes watching TV with them or reading them a book. “Being around them will always be my favorite activity,” he says.

There are times, however, when he realizes the weight of being a father, and it flusters him. He says, “There are no do overs or reset buttons when you make a mistake. These kids hold on to every single thing you do or say and these are the memories that will form their characters when they grow up. That’s a lot of responsibility! That challenge or responsibility is also what I like most about being a dad because I want to make good on that challenge.”

Dan also has to face the challenge of raising a special child, his son Noah. He explains, “The challenge is worrying too much about the future. As parents, we all want the best things for our kids. As adults, we’ve grown to know how hard life really is... However, all of that worrying goes away by the sight or the sound of your kid’s smile or laughter. I believe these kids are called ‘special’ not because of their condition, but because of how they are able to bring pure joy to everyone around them.”

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Edric Mendoza Father of Elijah, Edan, Titus, Tiana, and Catalina

Fatherhood changed Edric completely. He says, “The first is functionally. I now had to focus on needs beyond just my wife to that of my wife and kids. I had to create plans to accommodate this new life stage and find added sources of income to do the same. Second, and more importantly, is internally. When our first child came out and I held him in my arms, I realized the depth of a father’s love. It is the kind of love I have been learning most of my life about God towards us, towards me, His child. There really are no words to capture that moment when it all makes sense as you stare at your newborn baby, and marvel at how beautiful a gift he is. There is a love that wells up inside of you that you have never felt before. Inexplicable, but beautiful. If I as an imperfect father can feel that way towards my child, what more our perfect father God towards us His children?”

Edric likes to do everything with his children, from biking around the village to travelling, singing, and dancing. But he likes most of all the affection he feels when he sees his children running towards him when he gets home. He says, “This doesn’t happen all the time, to be honest. But I love it when it does! I also love being able to influence their lives, and see the principles I teach them sink in more and more as they grow and experience life on their own. I love most of all being able to pass on Biblical principles that will serve as anchors for them when the storms of life attack them, especially when mom or dad are not around.”

But as much as Edric loves being a dad, there are times when the duties and responsibilities it entails could become demanding. He says, “There are moments where I am carrying a burden on my shoulders—problems at work, stress with money, issues with my wife, and other related concerns—but I need to shut them down as I see my kids. It’s a challenge because it is my burden to carry, and I don’t obviously want to burden any of them with it. At the same time, they need me to be fully engaged and attentive to them, joyful and energetic. That’s when it’s tough. I don’t always act this way, the way I know I should. And thus, the challenge.”

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Erwin Nolido Dad of Ria, 15 years, and Ronnie, 14 years

When Erwin became a father, he says, “I found myself doing everything with them in mind.” He adds, “The things I like most about being a dad are the conversations I have with my kids, the meals that we share, the vacations that we go to, and the movies that we watch. The least thing I like about being a dad… nothing really.”

At a young age, Erwin and his wife exposed their daughters to different disciplines, from ballet and gymnastics to music and painting. Ronnie proved to be a natural athlete, pursuing gymnastics when she was but four years old. Today, she is part of the junior national training pool for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG).

“It encouraged her when my wife or I would stay with her at the gym while she trains. We constantly remind her to try her best and not to give up easily during training. We always tell her how proud we are of her and her dedication to her sport.”

He says, “At times when she really struggles and encounters difficulties, we always let her know that what she experiences is part of growing, part of developing, and essentially part of life. We give her tips and give her words of encouragement to allow her to continue and never give up. We also sometimes reward her and take her to competitions abroad.”

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Javey de Venecia Father of Jaden, 7 years, and Kate, 5 years

Revisiting your childhood is one of the many perks of fatherhood. Javey explains, “With my kids being so young, what I enjoy most is the experience of being a kid again. I get to go to all the amusement parks with them, watch our favorite sports teams and all the Marvel and DC movies, playing games, etc. I also love just watching them grow and learn.

Of course, the flip side is that being a father also means being a provider, counselor, and decision maker. He says, “I am no longer the center of my world and my needs become less important than those of my family. I also have a new definition of what it is to be ‘cool.’ It is no longer what my peers think, but rather what my kids think.”

Javey observes though that the humongous amount of information on how to become a better parent can be overwhelming and confusing. He says, “Oftentimes I ask myself, am I doing enough so that my kids can grow up to be the next Steph Curry or Susan Wojcicki? Just kidding. But fatherhood definitely gives me a better appreciation of my dad and what I put him through.”

Last December 2014, Javey’s daughter Kate was diagnosed with GM1 Gangliosidosis, a rare disorder that progressively destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. He says, “According to studies, she will begin to lose her ability to see, hear, swallow, stand, talk, etc. Eventually her brain functions will fail and thus her other organs as well. It is terminal and no child has survived this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure or anything proven that can help stop the deterioration.”

Suffice it to say that it has been a difficult road for Javey’s family, but they choose to see the possible over the impossible. He says, “Caring for Kate has shown us the true meaning of unconditional love, friendship, patience, faith and perseverance. However, as parents, nothing is harder and more heartbreaking than watching your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it. Every day we face unique challenges and every year, without a cure, children like Kate will lose their fight against it. That is why we decided to fight back."

"We created #AWin4Kate to look beyond where we are today and provide hope that sometimes the impossible can be possible. We are raising funds with other parents around the world through curegm1.org and other organizations to find a cure and help not only Kate, but provide a better future for those affected by this and other related/rare diseases. With your help, we can make it happen.”

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Nino Caruncho Dad of Celeste Amelie, 6 months old

Nino became a father late in life, at 45 years old. He says, “I was getting quite comfortable with my life and the freedom. My friends with kids would always say that having a child will turn your life upside down. I believed them but to what extent I did not know.”

When his wife got pregnant, Nino found himself scared and excited: scared about how he would handle fatherhood and excited about how he would care for his baby. He says “When Celeste came, the anxiety diminished but, of course, these thoughts would still float in my mind. I think as a father your priorities change, what is important to you changes. It’s a whole paradigm shift in the way you live your life. You’re living your life not for yourself, but for another.”

Nino loves playing with Celeste, feeding her, and making her laugh. He adds, “Even making her sleep is a favorite bonding time for me even if I can’t seem to consistently do it.”

“It’s scary to be responsible for another person’s life but it is also part of the excitement. The sleepless nights and anxiety which other dads would warn me about seems trivial compared to the the fun I have with Celeste. Seeing Celeste smile or get excited when she sees me, when she laughs when I play with her, the way she gets so animated during eating time–these simple things make my day every single day.”

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Coach Ren Ren Ritualo Dad of Margot Renee, 3 years, and Matteo Rocco, 8 months

“Having two beautiful kids made me realize how blessed I am. They made me appreciate life more,” says Coach Ren Ren.

But while he loves everything about being a dad as his children bring him so much joy and happiness, he finds the sleepless nights a bit tough. “I won’t say it’s easy. We’re very hands-on parents. We change diapers and wake up in the middle of the night to feed them. We make sure that we’re always there for them,” says Coach Ren Ren.

As a basketball coach, Coach Ren Ren hopes to steer his family towards an active lifestyle. He says, “I bring them in my basketball clinics or in our practices and let them play on the side. Or if we have a break we always go to the beach and swim or do some activities.”

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Ricky Andres Dad of Rina, 25, Robbie, 21, and Rissa, 20

Ricky had kids at an early age, and so he says, “I was forced to be serious in life and find ways to build my business and scale it for me to be able to provide well for my family and to give them the best education.”

Ricky and his wife Bubu began as coaches and teachers to their children in their growing up years and eventually become their mentors and best friends in their adult years. He says, “I enjoy watching my children mature to become goal-oriented adults, aiming to give their best despite challenges they face. I love it when they give ideas to help grow and improve our business. There really are a lot of ups and downs in raising children, but that’s how life is. The teenage years are the most challenging but it’ll soon pass.”