On the Road to Equality: A Father's Journey of Transformation

Type: Story

Jay Martin, a 50-year-old tricycle driver from Malabon City, lived a modest and quiet life. His involvement with Save the Children Philippines, however, altered his approach to family life and community interactions.

Working for the Tricycle Operations and Drivers' Association (TODA), Jay transports people around the busy streets of Malabon. This led him to Project “Tatay na Mapagkalinga sa Bata at sambahayan” (TaMBaYan), a Save the Children Philippines initiative aimed at involving fathers and male caregivers in preventing adolescent pregnancy and promoting gender equality.

Initially skeptical, Jay joined the pilot sessions of Project TaMBaYan, including the Bawal Bastos session focused on Republic Act 11313, the Safe Spaces Act, which addresses gender-based harassment. Realizing the law's importance, especially in his work, motivated Jay to fully engage with the project.

Transforming His Role as a Father

Project TaMBaYan focuses on creating a supportive environment for children, free from gender stereotypes. The project is dedicated to protecting adolescent girls from the risks of teenage pregnancy and the practices of child early, forced marriages, and unions (CEFMU). It also emphasizes positive parenting, which involves nurturing, guiding, and supporting children with respect and constructive parenting.

Jay's participation in the project challenged his long-held beliefs about fatherhood. He realized he needed to unlearn and relearn many parenting practices. Now, he is committed to a nurturing and respectful approach to parenting.

Addressing Public Scolding and Building Confidence

As a tricycle driver, Jay often saw parents scolding their children in public, a behavior he now recognizes as harmful. Before joining the project, he lacked the confidence to address child abuse. However, the project has gradually helped him build the courage to speak up when he sees something wrong.

Jay learned that correcting children's behavior should preserve their dignity and self-esteem. "As tricycle drivers, we often see children being mistreated. We have the right to intervene and speak up because children have rights too," he explained.

This new understanding has significantly impacted Jay. He now feels responsible for intervening when he sees children mistreated and encourages other TODA drivers to join TaMBaYan sessions.

"Para sa’kin, pwede mo naman pagsabihan yung bata pero hindi sa public at sa pamamaraaan na mapapahiya sila," he said.

("For me, you can correct a child, but not in public or in a way that embarrasses them," he said.)

Challenging Gender Roles at Home

The project made Jay aware of harmful cultural norms, such as the belief that only women handle household chores while men earn the income. He ensured his family did not follow these stereotypes.

Under his guidance, tasks are shared equally at home. Both Jay and his wife, a mall security guard, share the responsibility of earning for their family. TaMBaYan reinforced these beliefs and empowered his family to create a balanced environment.

“Hindi porke’t nasa bahay lang yung babae ay hindi niya na kaya mag-earn [ng pera]. May mga bagay na pwede siyang gawin. Kaya ‘di lang sa bahay [ang responsibility nila]. May pagkakataon nga na nagkasakit ako, asawa ko naman ang naghanap buhay. Kaya hindi lang nananatili sa bahay ang mga babae.” he said.

(“Just because a woman stays at home doesn't mean she can't earn. There are things she can do. So, women aren't just responsible for household chores. There were times when I was sick, and my wife provided for the family. Women aren't confined to staying at home," he said.)

Embracing Gender Inclusivity

Jay's journey didn't stop at positive parenting; he also learned the importance of gender equality. Coming from a conservative country, he held biases against the LGBTQIA+ community and initially found discrimination acceptable, never voicing opposition to it.
Through the project, Jay learned the value of respect and acceptance. He saw that these individuals are loving and caring, especially towards their parents, and understood their struggles due to discrimination. This shift made him more inclusive.

"Bigyan natin ng pantay na pagtingin ang iba't ibang gender [identity], hindi dapat binabastos ‘yun," he shared.

("Let's give equal respect to different gender identities; they shouldn't be disrespected." he shared.)

Empowering Men to Drive Social Change

Studies consistently show that having a father present significantly benefits a child's success. Men also hold sway in the community, shaping local dynamics through roles in governance and transportation.

Jay's story illustrates how education and awareness can challenge gender norms and promote equality. TaMBaYan, like similar projects, helps break harmful stereotypes, fostering a fairer society.

Through his journey, Jay highlights the importance of men in advocating for equality and supporting children. He hopes to inspire more fathers to embrace gender equality and positive parenting.

"Para sa’kin, ang TaMBaYan ay isang samahan na makatutulong na ipalaganap ang importansya ng pagkapantay-pantay ng mga tao, at welfare ng mga bata. Hindi lahat ay may kakayahan na intindihin ang mga ganitong bagay kaya para sa’kin, mahalaga na mayroon tayong sessions para ipaliwanag ang mga ito," Jay said

(“To me, TaMBaYan is a group that spreads awareness about equality among people and the well-being of children. Since not everyone grasps these concepts easily, I think it's important to have sessions to explain them.")

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