Online communities are double-edged swords: they equally hold both the good and bad in humanity. While most can be a toxic environment, some can also become a safe space where individuals can grow and thrive—if you know where to look.
One such online community is DadBudPH, one of the country’s largest and most active dad communities on Facebook to date.
Its members are fathers and father figures of all ages, coming from different socio-economic classes from different parts of the country. The site has become a valuable resource for fathers everywhere for parenting tips as well as becoming a good partner to spouses.
DadBudPH recently hit a milestone, hitting over 50,000 members in its Facebook page. With this, DadBudPH kicked off a series of events to celebrate with its members in person. One of these activities is “Dad Talks.”
Invited speakers spoke of their personal journeys as a father and how they were able to navigate their way towards becoming a good parent. Some of the speakers were members of the online community, and there were those from business sector and evangelical circles.
They also invited two celebrity dads to share their own experiences as fathers: TV personality Kim Atienza and actor Troy Montero.
Conundrum of time
It does not matter whether you are a celebrity or a someone who works a regular 9 to 5 job—we all wish we had more time. This realization hit Kim Atienza hardest when two of his kids—Eliana and his oldest, Jose—have been gone a while, pursuing their degrees abroad.
“(With our youngest), meron pa kaming isang taon so talagang nakatutok ako sa kaniya,” Atienza said of his youngest, Emmanuelle.
“I want to give her so much time, but she doesn’t want to spend time with me. Yan ang problema ng mga tatay na may teenager na anak. We want to spend time with our kids, but our kids have their own lives.”
This made Atienza wish he could go back and spend more time with his kids when he had the chance. But soon he realized another thing.
“When I think about it, my kids turned out to be okay. Bakit ako nagkakaganito? Feeling guilty ako,” Atienza shared.
The TV personality said that all fathers feel the same guilt as they balance work with being present for their family. Atienza then shared that what matters most is the quality of time spent with family, not quantity.
This has become apparent when he received a surprise letter from his eldest, Jose, who graduated from flight school during the height of the pandemic. Before the letter, Atienza was wondering about his impact as a father to his kids as he would be gone most of days of the week, shooting as much as three shows per day.
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Beaming with pride, Atienza shared during “Dad Talk” that he was even surprised his son quoted the bible.
A recent born-again Christian, Atienza found it difficult to evangelize to his kids as both he and his Taiwanese wife, Felicia, spent most of their lives being agnostic.
He then resolved to become a good example rather than forcing his beliefs upon his children. And seeing the success and love they now get from their children, Atienza considered his mission of becoming a good role model a success.
When you look at their social media accounts, Troy Montero and Aubrey Miles seem to have the kind of life everyone would want to have. What’s not to like? Here we see beautiful people with lovely kids, having the time of their lives.
Then they noticed something about their youngest, their daughter, Rocket.
“We just noticed that she was a very quiet baby,” Montero shared. “I would tickle her, and she didn’t really laugh or giggle. She would just look up at me.”
Montero said that Rocket started walking when she was eight months. So he and his wife thought that their daughter was an “early walker, late talker.”
As the country started to impose lockdowns during the early stages of the pandemic, Montero and wife Aubrey Miles found themselves spending more time with their daughter, who remained non-verbal at the time. They were starting to see signs of autism.
“We just did research and we said ‘well, she displays a few of the markers but not everything’. So we thought, ‘let’s not self-diagnose this.’”
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They were forced to wait a while as everything was closed during that time of the pandemic. When they finally saw a specialist, they were told that their daughter has Autism spectrum disorder or ASD.
“My wife and I, even though we went in feeling so prepared, as soon as (the doctor) said it, it blew our minds,” Montero recalls.
Soon after, the couple resolved to be better versions of themselves as parents in order to meet the demands of their daughter. Montero said that he and Miles were basically starting from scratch, even though they were seasoned parents to two boys at that point.
Whenever her daughter throws a fit, he said he cannot discipline her the way he did his other kids. He had to have more patience. And to achieve that, he had to manage his stress levels.
“One thing I started to notice, especially out there (driving) with my daughter, you know, I don’t give a what about traffic. You know what I do? I leave a little bit early, I make sure there’s music playing, I got things ready because someone at the backseat could have a meltdown any moment,” Montero said.
In a way, his daughter helped Montero become a more calm and less stressed person. In the end he advised attendees to rid themselves of stressors so that they can become better fathers and husbands.
A fresh new concept
DadBudPH was started by advertising entrepreneur and food content creator Joey Ong. He founded the community in 2019 when his wife was pregnant, initially as a way to seek counsel from more experienced dads.
“Back then, I didn’t know much about being a dad and there weren’t a lot of communities which brought dads together the way mom groups did,” he said. “DadBudPH became a platform to share personal experiences, get inspired, and really just spread the good vibes of fatherhood.”
Since his page exploded, he was invited by Meta, themultinational technology conglomerate which owns Facebook, to the Facebook accelerator program that kicked off in Singapore to help grow the community further.
According to Ong, there are now plans to expand DadBud to Singapore and Vietnam.
“The world needs it. We need better role models. Kita naman natin na ibang-iba na ang mundo ngayon. It’s very fast-paced, very different, and that makes our role (as fathers) even more important,” Ong stated during his opening remarks on “Dad Talk.”