One realization Dingdong Dantes had while raising his kids is that fatherhood is a never-ending process—“and it doesn’t come with a manual.”
“I consider myself a work in progress, not just as a parent, but as a person. That’s a basic principle that needs to be clear. Saying that you already know everything is dangerous, because that means you’re no longer giving yourself room to improve, or know better,” he said in a recent virtual conference for GMA 7’s Sunday infotainment show “Amazing Earth.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement restrictions in place, Dingdong has been able to spend more time with his and wife Marian Rivera’s two children, Zia, 5; and Sixto, 2. And every day, he learns something new.
“I grow together with them; I learn from my children. Sometimes they ask seemingly simple questions about life that will make you think really hard. Like one time, Zia asked me, ‘Why is there coronavirus?’ And you have to come up with a truthful and genuine response that they can understand,” he related.
Dingdong also recalled what he has learned from his own father, saying: “He reminded me that my values and principles should be intact wherever I go. You have to be true to those. My dad often quoted the Bible verse Sirach 11:14-16, which says that ‘Everything comes from the Lord.’ Whatever you have or whatever you don’t have, it’s all because of Him, because he has a plan for you.”
Helping Dingdong become a better father is Marian, whom he described as the family’s “super mom.” “I’m so lucky that she’s my wife. We have been busy with show biz for so many years, and this was the only time we got to enjoy each other’s company every day. Amid the pandemic, she has only become more patient and caring of us,” Dingdong said.
As he juggles his family life, show biz career, businesses and charity work, Dingdong highlighted the importance of taking a step back to recharge and put life into perspective.
“When you’re so busy you get caught up in the motion. But sometimes, you need to slow down and assess the things you have been doing. Continue doing what works for you and fix those that don’t… And then come back once you have reenergized your body, mind and soul,” he said.
His show “Amazing Earth,” which features uncharted destinations, fascinating wildlife footage and interviews about local environmental heroes, has prepared a three-part anniversary special, which started last June 13.
“Our planet is so beautiful and there are so many things we don’t know about it—a single lifetime isn’t enough to understand and appreciate the blessings it gives us. We should take care of it to the best of our abilities,” he said. “I’m also amazed by all the heroes we feature and their unique contributions to the world. It’s humbling to hear their stories and learn why they do what they do.”
For instance, in last week’s episode, Dingdong had Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, who talked about the local government’s steps to make the city greener, like tree-planting projects and reforestation of parks.
Protecting our environment
“Talking to him, I also learned that, in Pasig, the top contributor of greenhouse gases during lockdown was actually electricity consumption,” Dingdong recalled. “There are things that we don’t know that can actually contribute to damage. And you can only do something about it if you know about it. When you’re educated about these things, then you can act on it,” he said.
And in the Dantes household, steps are already being made to make their practices more sustainable.
“Every day, we learn new things about how to protect our environment. We try to live sustainably by only using resources that we need. We make sure to conserve energy. Sometimes, the simplest things, commitments or activities can make an impact,” he said.
Other practices he and his family have adopted include riding an electric scooter when it suffices, using reusable tumblers and utensils and other products made of recycled materials. “We try our best to make these things a way of life—not just a one time thing,” said Kapuso star, who’s proud of Zia, who, at her age, already knows the ill effects of littering in the ocean.
For Dingdong, protecting the environment needs a whole-of-nation approach, with policymakers working hand-in-hand with the people. “We depend on our policymakers to make the big moves or changes. But we can also do our part by voicing out the things that are important to us, the things that are affecting us,” he pointed out.
“Amazing Earth” aside, Dingdong said he’s willing to go on locked-in taping for a drama series. “My last one was ‘Descendants of the Sun’ last year. I was supposed to do an episode of ‘I Can See You,’ but it got canceled. But we’re taking care of things, so we can get on with it soon,” he said. INQ
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