The Hands of My Father

"Ang Mga Kamot Sa Akong Amahan" (The Hands of My Father). Coffee on Paper. 20 x 30 inches. 7 October 2014


Written in my journal last September 30, 2014. You can find more details here.


“I also hate the fact that I couldn’t do anything to lessen the backbreaking work of my father as he works in some cargo ship abroad. I hate the fact that he sacrificed most of his life and personal dreams just to give the best to his family – everything from what we need and want to whatever we desire and dream. He gave his all just to help us fulfill our dreams. I just wished that I was able to do something to carry some of that burden of his as well...and help him fulfill his dreams too.”


There was one time that my father and I were eating together at home. He placed his hands on top of the dining table, and I saw how rugged they are with its deep veins and scars. My heart was wrenching at the sight of my father’s hands. His work as an engineer in a cargo ship is not easy. He would sometimes get burns or wounds from maintaining the machinery in the ship. He has been doing this for decades, and I hope I can finish my studies immediately so that he doesn’t have to do this backbreaking work anymore.


My family flourished because of these hands. My father was able to send his three children to the best schools and provide for everything we need and want. The consequence of such comfortable and well-provided lifestyle is that we miss our father all the time. He missed most of our birthdays, graduations, Christmas and New Year celebrations, and other important dates of us growing up. Every phone call from him abroad would get us excited. Whenever he gets a vacation from work, we would celebrate his homecoming like there’s a big fiesta in town. 


The economic inequality apparent in our society has caused a diaspora of Filipinos around the world who are looking for better jobs or greener pastures. At times these Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) do experience oppression on the job, and my father has a fair share of those experiences. They continue to undergo such sacrifices just to provide for their families. I can really say that my father deserves the title of a “Modern-Day Hero” just like all the other OFWs out there.


I miss my dad every single day he’s out there. I always worry about his health or what new wound would scar his hands again. I feel impatient and frustrated that up until now I couldn’t do anything to lessen his burden. I want to do something, but for now, I have to be patient. In the near future, I would most probably take his place in order to continue providing for my family. 


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