Sunday, June 19, 2005

Nation joins Father’s Day celebration today

"One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters," so says an English proverb.

To a large extent, this is particularly true as fathers provide their children, not just mere concern for their physical well-being, but nurture their intellect and mind, developing them into productive and responsible members of society.

Today, June 19, the world pauses to pay tribute to the men who have dedicated their lives and efforts to make sure their children live comfortably even if it entails a great sacrifice on their part.

Here in the Philippines, Father’s Day is celebrated in simple but meaningful ways.

Filipino children remember their fathers on a very significant event by way of greeting them with hugs and kisses, giving them cards with affectionate words, greetings and handing them gifts — ties, wines, hankies, etc. — that will surely put a smile on their lips.

The day is not complete without partaking of a sumptuous lunch or dinner inside the malls, hotels or at the nearest Chinese "panciteria."

The importance of this occasion is best exemplified at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa where children will be allowed to be with their detained fathers for a longer period from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The children will be welcomed by the prison band to lend a festive atmosphere in the vast prison compound.

How Father’s Day came to be has an interesting beginning. It began in Washington when Sonora Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909.

Sonora wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state.

After Sonora became an adult, she realized the selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man.

Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. In 1926, a National Father’s Day Committee was formed in New York City. Father’s Day was recognized by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1956.

Then in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day. President Richard Nixon signed the law which finally made it permanent in 1972.

So Father’s Day was born in memory and gratitude by a daughter who thought that her father and all good fathers should be honored with a special day, just like we honor our mothers on Mother’s Day.

In parting, let us find wisdom in the saying that "any man can be a Father, but it takes a special person to be called Dad."

Solo parents must enjoy privileges — Recto

"Solo fathers, single or married, must enjoy privileges granted to married individuals and solo mothers," said Sen. Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee.

"In this age of changing definitions of the ‘family,’ the government should make relief available to traditional nuclear families to be open to new family set-ups. It’s all for our children."

"It will be gender sensitivity, expressed in the full sense through tax relief."

Recto said he would expand the coverage of the public hearings being conducted by the ways and means committee "to improve conditions for the solo parent since they shoulder similar responsibilities, as married parents. Likewise, benefits envisioned for solo unwed mothers should be made available to solo unwed fathers."

He said income tax relief should apply to both solo mothers and solo fathers alike, citing SB 794 geared for unwed mothers.

Villar said his bill seeks to grant a personal exemption at P32,000 and an additional exemption for each child at P8,000 to unmarried women with children , enjoyed by a married individual with children.

Most Senate bills on individual income tax propose raising personal and additional exemptions. The first bill filed on increasing personal and additional exemptions was SB 5 filed by Sen. Juan Flavier who raised the personal exemption for single individuals and legally separated by more than double from P20,000 to P48,000; head of the family, from P25,000 to P54,000, and for each married individual from P32,000 to P64,000.

Flavier also proposed to raise additional exemptions for dependents from P8,000 to P16,000.

Recto clarified that tax relief is not granted by the Solo Parent’s Welfare Act (RA 8972). Benefits under RA 8972 ranged from free training to livelihood, counseling, parenting skills, stress management, easy credit, temporary shelter, legal aid and medical care, flexi-time work, protection against discrimination at work due to being a solo parent, additional seven days’ leave per year on top of leave under existing laws, scholarship for solo parents and their children, and liberal terms for socialized housing.

"It’s been in our minds as shown by the bills filed on the very first day of the 13th Congress last year by my colleagues," Recto said, citing those filed by Villar and Flavier.

"The First Regular Session focused on measures raising money for government coffers. It’s time to tackle those for the family purse now," Recto said.

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