By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Being a parent – whether a father or a mother — means providing for the family’s needs.
But what if you’re one who works for the people’s liberation from oppression and exploitation – in short, an activist whose work has no income?
For a father like Einstein Recedes, spokesperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), it’s a just a matter of diskarte, or finding ways to provide for her two-year old daughter Salidummay or “Dummay.”
“Salidummay” refers to the Cordilleran traditional chanted song, which his grandmother used to sing to him as a young boy. Recedes is an Itneg, one of the indigenous peoples tribes in the Cordilleras. It is also a unique name fit for a girl, Recedes said.
Recedes is also the secretary general of Kabataan Partylist, which has the only youth representative in Congress. He was the former national president of the National Union of Students in the Philippines.
Admittedly, Recedes said, providing for his daughter is difficult since he works full time for SCMP, a national democratic ecumenical mass organization of youth and students.
“To be a father is a life-changing experience,” said Recedes. For a youth activist who is used to subsisting on meagre means, a bigger concern has taken a smaller form, specifically, that of a toddler.
“I cannot just tell her to bear the hunger. I will do all possible ways to earn for Dummay, within the framework of continuous struggle,” he told Bulatlat.com.
One of his close friends and Dummay’s godmother, Vanessa Bolibol of the Kabataan Partylist, said Recedes strives to provide for his child while doing his work in the youth and student sector.
In his out-of-town and out-of-the-country trips, Recedes said, he makes sure to buy items that he can sell when he gets back home, such as coffee from Colombia, vinegar, bagnet and Vigan longganisa from Ilocos, longganisang Lucban and yema cake from Quezon province. He also does accounting services and writes project proposals.
Bolibol said Recedes had been tempted to leave the movement and work for a regular income, but his commitment to serve the people prevails. The urgent issues of the Filipino youth such as tuition and other school fees hikes, the K to 12 program, and the clamor for a quality education not only for Dummay, but for the rest of the Filipino youth, are his inspiration to continue with the struggle.
Spending time with Dummay
Recedes has parted ways with Dummay’s mother, Kristel, and their child spends one week alternately with each of them. Recedes said he sees to it that every day, during his turn, is a day well spent.
“I really want to spend every day with Dummay,” Recedes said. Although he is swamped with work, he does not let it get between him and his daughter. Often times, Dummay tags along with him in meetings and even in rallies.
At home, they listen to Dummay’s favorite songs on Youtube – songs like “Tatlong Bibe,” “Bahay Kubo” and every little girls’ current favorite song, “Let it go,” which he would belt out along with her. Of course, he also sings the salidummay, to which his daughter sings along.
The young father even plays dolls and tea party with Dummay, and does real cooking in the kitchen with her.
Outdoor time includes going to the market to buy their food. They also go to the park where Dummay loves to play on the slide.
“Lifting Dummay repeatedly up the slide is my alternative to barbell,” he quipped.
Dummay had been exposed to books, and every night before going to sleep, she would tell him, “Tatay, read tayo!”
Dummay also loves to be in rallies. “Where else would she get that, but from her activist parents,” Recedes said. Dummay can now chant, “Makibaka! Huwag matakot!”
Aside from rallies, meetings and parks, Recedes also often brings her to a fast food chain, not to eat, but just to see the mascot whom Dummay is really fond of.
Bolibol said that Dummay is so fond of the fast food mascot, so they often tell her, “Don’t worry Dummay, we will buy you that mascot if we win the lottery.”
When the day ends, Dummay’s favourite “bed” is her father’s chest. “She makes sure I don’t go anywhere,” said Recedes.
Like any father, Recedes also have dreams for his daughter. But more than just finishing her studies and being successful in life, Recedes dreams that Dummay grows up in a liberated society.
“If not, then I hope that she would follow other comrades who devote their lives to attain justice and peace,” Recedes said. “My daughter and I would be part of the struggle for the interest and welfare of the people.”