I want you and your mom to know that I think of you every day, even if I am away and our line of communication is limited.
I always think of the time we can all be together again and be like normal families who have fun weekends and take great vacations together.
I feel sad because I miss all of you.
I am sure every soldier feels this way, but as an officer, I should set an example to my subordinates because they look up to me. I am a father not only to you but also to them. I have to make sure they are motivated to work.
We soldiers are committed to do whatever it takes to maintain peace in our country and defend it, even if that means working 'round-the-clock in far-flung mountains and jungles and being immersed in mud and water for a long period, wet, hungry, and tired. It is good that we have mobile phones now, although some of the places we are assigned to have no service.
This is a noble profession -- difficult but fulfilling. If one day you read the poem Military Professionalism by Charles de Gaulle, then you would understand better. Soldiers make all of these sacrifices so that more children like you can stay safe, more families can stay together and sleep peacefully at night, and our country can remain free.
For military families like ours, time for family will always be sacrificed. It is important that you understand the meaning of a soldier-daddy’s job and the responsibility that comes with it. Choosing one over the other is not an option.
I have commitments to both our family and to our country, and the solution is to find the balance between the two. I maximize the time that I get to spend with you, because I never know when the next weekend break or long vacation will be.
I made a promise to uphold the values I learned in military school: courage, integrity, and loyalty. I want you, my Tonyo, to know that even if life in the military is tough and challenging, your dad is a good and honest soldier. Everyone should be able to do something good for his country, and I want you to know that I’ve done something more for the Philippines, and that even if I am bound to my duty, I still have time to show my love for you and your mom and spend quality time with both of you.
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P.S. There is another thing I want you to know: Having weapons does not mean one is not for peace. Weapons are highly misunderstood, and that is why some people use them for the wrong reasons. Soldiers and other law enforcers have the authority and training to use weapons to maintain peace and order. Being able to use and understand them entails a lot of responsibility. It is also a privilege that should not be abused.
IMAGE Courtesy of Hanna Pacua
Lieutenant Commander Sam Pacua of the Philippine Navy is father to Samuel Antonio, now 5. On the rare but special times they are together, they like playing basketball, gardening, and completing puzzles together.
This letter is an excerpt from "Love, Dad", a collection of letters from different fathers, which were originally published in the June 2013 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by Smartparenting.com.ph editors.