As a parent, you’ve probably had to make the same choice before: you put your kids first even if it means leaving nothing for yourself. “Para sa mga anak ko na lang, kahit wag na ako” is a statement we know too well. Any parent will do everything and anything for their kids, even the littlest things, to give them the best life ahead. It's why this photo of a father and his two children has resonated with Pinoy parents.
Yesterday, March 13, a photo of a skinny man watching his two daughters eat at a fast-food chain has been making the social media rounds. Jhunnel Sarajan, a real estate professional, took a photograph and shared it on Facebook.
“I can't contain my emotion when I saw them in Jollibee. Walang kinakain si Kuya, mapakain lang ang kanyang mga anak,” he wrote in his post.
“This is a photograph of a father's love. A depiction of genuine selflessness,” Jhunnel added.
Jhunnel's post has been shared more than 69,000 times and garnered more than 125,000 reactions. When Jhunnel saw the impact of the photograph, he wanted to convert his compassion into action. So he went back to the restaurant to look for the inspiring dad in the now-viral photo and bought them meals. He then encouraged people on Facebook to take one step further and become "a blessing to others."
In a conversation with the father of two and his two daughters, Jhunnel found out that Tatay Ryan Arebuabo, 38, survived a mild stroke, but have not had a chance to undergo physical therapy. He badly needs it, according to his daughters Rose Ann, 8, and Rose Mae, 6. Tatay Ryan has been unable to work since his stroke left half of his body paralyzed and made it difficult to speak.
Now, Tatay Ryan mans a stall cart-turned-sari-sari store given by the Oplan Balik Bahay Sagip Buhay, a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), according to ABS-CBN News. He also benefits from the Pantawid Pamilyang Program (4Ps), a government initiative that provides conditional cash grants to the "poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children."
Tatay Ryan earns only P100 to P200 a day, barely enough to cover their daily meals. The P2,200 he receives monthly from the government all goes to buying his children needs, including school supplies. Rose Ann and Rose Mae are in Grade 2 and kindergarten students, respectively, at Jose Corazon De Jesus Elementary School. That day Jhunnel took their photo was a celebration of Rose Mae’s upcoming graduation by treating them to their favorite meal. "Hindi na po ako kumain. Makita ko lang na busog sila, okay na ako," Tatay Ryan said.
According to reports, Tatay Ryan almost lost his daughters after their mother took them and left him after he had a mild stroke. He tried to win his wife back, renovating their home in the slums of Tondo, Manila and bought a second-hand TV as proof that he could still support his family despite his disability. His attempts were unsuccessful, but he managed to gain custody of his daughters.
Tatay Ryan credits his father for his attitude and perspective towards life. He knew of unconditional love early on when his father raised him and his three siblings on his own after their mother died giving birth to his youngest sibling.
"Kung paano ako inalagaan ng tatay ko, gano'n din ang ginagawa ko ngayon. Siya talaga ang idol ko. Malaki ang sakripisyo niya para sa mga kapatid ko, lalo na sa pamilya ko," he shared. His daughters are lucky to have him and their grandfather who continues to work and help out with the family's expenses.
“Gusto ko lang makapagtapos sila sa pag-aaral,” Tatay Ryan said. “Kahit hirap akong magbasa, tinuturuan ko pa rin sila,” he added. Despite his condition, he’s determined to prove that he can continue to be a good father to his kids despite the circumstances they are in and that they can get out of the slums one day.
“Mahirap din, minsan napapagod ka. Pero kahit pagod ka, lumaban ka,” Tatay Ryan said.
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