They say that being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the tears. This is especially true for VECO’s Ariel Navera, a single father.
With the help of his family, Ariel raised his now 11-year-old daughter Nicole Margaret, with whom he shares a bond that has been greatly tested over the past decade.
Ariel has been working at the Visayan Electric Company for five years now and is currently with the Distribution Network Department as a tools and equipment custodian, a job he has learned to value so much after all the hurdles he overcame getting there.
“Looking back, all the challenges I faced as a father was worth it. My daughter taught me how to become a father. I am just so lucky I had the support of my mother. Without her, I do not know what would have happened,” he said.
Ariel, who comes from a well-to-do family in Ormoc, enjoyed a comfortable life. Known as the “bad boy” in the family, he relied heavily on his mother and siblings who worked abroad after his father passed away when he was only nine years old.
But life took a different turn when he found out that his girlfriend of a few months was with child. He admits to having felt excited yet confused and worried when he discovered he was going to be a father at 24.
However, it wasn’t in Ariel’s fate to have a happy ever after just yet. The challenges, the bigger, more difficult ones were just starting.
Nicole Margaret’s mother left the picture when the child was only one year and eight months old, leaving Ariel to take care of his daughter on his own.
“Rearing my daughter was a big challenge for me. First, I did not know how to care for a child, a daughter especially. For one, lalaki ko, babaye akong anak (I am a man, my child is a girl). I did not know how to dress her up,” he said.
During times when he had to go to work, he would leave the child to the care of neighbors. When he was jobless, he would rely on the financial support of his family to provide for his and his child’s needs.
In a machismo-driven society, where men have to put up a tough front, Ariel had to swallow his pride to be both the father and mother to his daughter.
“The situation was difficult, but I had to be there for my daughter. I was the only one that she had. I was thankful for the times when my mother would come home from the US because then she could help me raise my daughter. But most of the time, it was just my daughter and I,” he said.
The challenges did not stop there. Ariel also had difficulty in getting a job. He came from a well-known family in Ormoc and his reputation as a “bad boy” made it difficult for him to get a job or keep one, even those that required low-level skills.
While money was not a problem because he had his mother and siblings to turn to, Ariel decided he should be skilled to land a more stable job.
He left for Cebu, bringing his daughter with him, hoping that they could start a new life in a new place.
He went on to enroll in an electrical installation and maintenance course at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), where he planned on putting up a small business so he could utilize the skills he would learn.
That was when Fate started to take it easy on Ariel. Fast forward to the present, Ariel continues to learn new things about fatherhood everyday. And while he is far from being a “perfect father,” he is determined to be the best dad he can be to his beloved daughter.
When asked to describe his relationship with her kid, Ariel said they are like friends, but they also have fights once in a while.
“My daughter is very much like me. Gahi og ulo (So hard-headed),” he said, laughing.
He shares that they bond over ice cream and his daughter would always sleep beside him, except for when his mother is home from the US.
Although he has hurdled some of the challenges he faced when his daughter was younger, Ariel knows there are more coming his way, especially that his daughter is growing up. His advice to other single dads: have patience and have faith in God.
“Everything will be difficult at first but patience and faith in God will get you through anything, including fatherhood,” he said.
The article is written by Quennie S. Bronce