Fathers and their Daughters

‘Twas the week before Christmas…and drama was in the air. No, this isn’t a story of a young couple looking for an inn a couple of thousand years ago. This is the Philippines in December 2017. Two stories grabbed the headlines: the first is about the very public squabble of a father with his daughter over social media; and, the other, the mysterious disappearance of a young lady from a mall.

We are given tidbits about everything but never the whole story. One day we just stumbled upon a father ranting against his daughter. Apparently, the daughter had previously posted a blind item against her father and here is the father hitting back. Piecing the story might be a case of hit or miss but it would seem that the father had beaten someone who was close to the daughter. The father responded that he won’t hesitate to protect his daughter even if others, including the daughter or her mother, doesn’t do anything about it. Seems that the daughter doesn’t appreciate her father’s actions and declares that her father always spoils Christmas for her and the father replies that she is free to change her family name if she wishes. A very public spat indeed as mainstream media picked up the story from social media and brought the story to those offline.

As serious as the situation above was, most I think viewed it as nothing more than entertainment. Something that feeds our inexplicable need for voyeurism. It was, however, quickly followed by one even more serious. This one started with an appeal for help to find a missing sibling that went viral over social media. The father is a lawyer so there was speculation that the disappearance was connected with his work. CCTV footages showed her trying to break a thousand peso bill then…poof! Gone. Things worsened when it was reported that her belongings were left at the coffee shop. A couple of days later, however, the daughter was spotted in another mall and was soon in custody. It seems that the father had scolded the daughter a day or two before her disappearance. Some speculated it was all a sick social media game. Then there’s the official line that she may be depressed.

Two things stood out for me in both stories: first, the role of social media; and, second, the father-daughter dynamic that is so complex that, sometimes, I’m glad I don’t have one but at the same time regret that I don’t have one.

There is a third: that whatever else that may happen, these people deserve some privacy. Yes, even the father-daughter tandem who brought their spat to the public through social media. Like I said, I cannot imagine what must be going through their minds when these people — all of them — did what they did. It doesn’t matter what theories we put out there about why things turned out the way it did. In the end, it’s none of our collective business. The important thing is that, in the case of the missing daughter, we helped getting her back to her family; and, in the case of the daughter in the middle of a public spat with her father, we are witnessing what some of us may be going through on a daily basis. In either case, it is not for us to look further. We simply take it as it is, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky?) enough to have a daughter of your own, then this should be a reminder that you have a lot to do in building and keeping a relationship with your daughters and, indeed, to everyone. Good luck to us all on that.

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