It surprises a lot of people to know that my dad, Joel Uichico, was a single father for much of his life.
After my mom passed away when I was young, dad stepped up and took the reins to raise us. He was both our mother and father for the longest time. Life changed so suddenly for him; he had three kids to take care of through puberty, and a ton of hospital bills from my mom’s illness. It definitely wasn’t easy; even if he had help from our relatives, he loved my mother very much.
Now that I’m also a mother and I understand how hard raising kids can be, I truly appreciate my dad for the patience and understanding he had while we were growing up. It has been revelation after revelation, understanding what he went through alone. I’ve always been close to him, but as he spends time with us and his grandkids, I’m seeing him in a whole different light now.
There is one more thing about my dad that really surprised me about him. My dad is an advocate. He is the president of Bikes for the Philippines, a nonprofit that aims to supply bikes to schoolchildren and young people belonging to communities in far-flung areas.
I went with him one time to one of the communities that Bikes for the Philippines is part of. It opened my eyes to how hard life is for these kids who have to travel such long distance just to be able to go to school every day. And my dad believed that for some of these kids, a bike is the solution to help them so that they can go to school.
Meet Adrian Macapagal, our Grade 6 beneficiary from Concepcion Integrated School. We awarded him with a Cannondale F7 for his outstanding use of his bike. He has no unexcused absences and tardiness. He religiously maintains and uses his bike with properly. Always uses his helmet when biking to school. Makes us all proud of him! When there’s a wheel, there’s a way! #bikesforthephilippinesfoundation #bikesforthephilippines #bikesforschool
It blows my mind when I stop to think about it, but a simple bike to help these kids get to school can really help them to a better life. When they have this tool to help them complete their education and go to work, they can then provide for their families. As an added bonus, it’s completely clean and sustainable, and even encourages exercise.
The gravity of this important work my dad does really hit me. It inspired me so much to be a part of it and continue this movement that he has started by himself. When you meet these kids who have so little, yet have so much thirst for life, it makes you really stop and think about the blessings you have. And dad, even as he has done so much for us over the years, still has more in him to give to other people.
Dad tells me that one of his favorite things in the world is when Aria calls him lolo. 🙂 He has always been happiest in the company of his family. Seeing us happy makes him feel very content. I know this is always going to be the case with most parents because I feel this whenever I’m enjoying moments with Aria and Ezra. But of course, I also want to give my support to the things that make him happy as well. Dad is so low-key about this and even tells us it’s not taking up too much of his time, but I know it’s something he’s very passionate about. His wish is that he is impacting and changing lives through Bikes for the Philippines. I know this is happening already, and I hope to see this grow even more.
If you want to learn more or volunteer for Bikes for the Philippines, we’d love to have you onboard! Check out their official website for more details on how to be a part of this initiative. 🙂 And if you have a super daddy like I do, please give him a big hug not only on Father’s Day, but every day. They’re not often very vocal about how much they care for us, but they really do their best to give us everything they can.