Filipino fathers reaffirm their paternal role
June 21, 2010
Fathers read to children as part of the
ERPAT event. ERPAT fathers provide
many benefits to their communities.
Late last September during Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in Antipolo, Philippines, Federico, the father of two children sponsored through CFCA, worked with other fathers and young men to rescue 27 children and several mothers trapped by rising floodwaters in a child care center.
After freeing the last child, a mudslide tumbled down the hill behind the center and buried the men. One died. Three are still missing. Federico was one of the survivors found alive but unconscious. He dislocated his right shoulder and suffered bruises, impairing his ability to work as a carpenter and frame maker.
After the accident, the Antipolo project supported his recovery by providing medicine and therapy to help Federico regain use of his arm. CFCA also helped repair Federico’s home, which was damaged in the typhoon. He still lacks full use of his arm and can’t do carpentry work, but he can build frames at home and sell them for income.
He has no regrets.
“Instead, I feel every day my life is meaningful because I was able to help others, especially the children, in a time of calamity,” Federico said.
Heroism and leadership
The dedication and commitment Federico feels for his community was cultivated partly by his involvement in ERPAT, an organization for fathers of sponsored children in CFCA’s Antipolo project. ERPAT stands for “Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities.”
Since their formation in 2004, the Antipolo ERPAT fathers have distinguished themselves as leaders in the community.
During Typhoon Ondoy last fall, ERPAT fathers aided the CFCA project and worked alongside international relief workers and government officials to provide disaster relief. But disaster assistance isn’t all they do.
“The continuous training and formation is what I like best about ERPAT,” Federico said.
ERPAT groups host workshops and speakers on environmental initiatives, disaster management, crime prevention and other topics. This training has enabled the groups to address issues impacting their communities.
Federico is using the crime prevention training he received in his ERPAT group as a volunteer on his neighborhood peace and order committee. The community has been recognized by the municipality for reducing its neighborhood crime rate.
Helping the community
The ERPAT concept originated with CFCA fathers who wanted to strengthen their social responsibilities and participate more in the sponsorship program.
Today, there are 6,087 ERPAT members in the Antipolo project.
The ERPAT members meet monthly in small groups to plan and execute projects designed to benefit their communities. They discuss finances, pray together, and share testimonials of struggle and success.
Antipolo Project Coordinator Malou Navio consults with ERPAT leaders in planning and implementing the sponsorship program, and ERPAT fathers are represented on the project’s board of directors. ERPAT fathers also represent the CFCA community before Filipino government entities.
“They help generate ideas and help with the creative thinking process,” Navio said. “They are a good support to sponsored children, youth and aging in the community.”
What will most impact the families and communities in the long run is the loyalty ERPAT fathers feel toward their families.
“ERPAT promotes us to be our wife’s best friend for our children,” he said.
The workshops have bonded the fathers and stirred them to fulfill their dreams for their families. They are encouraged to see their wives as equal partners.
Thanks in part to Hope for a Family sponsorship, Federico’s two sponsored children are on their way to becoming successful adults. Monalyn, 19, is studying for her bachelor’s degree in education, and Fredmark, 17, will study hotel and restaurant management after completing high school.
“My wife and I are happy because our children are growing to be helpful, industrious and respectful with others,” Federico said. “Helping one another is a grace to treasure.”