Father’s Day anecdotes: “I am not going to leave a debt for you to shoulder”

Wenting Ang

Arguably celebrated with less fanfare than Mother’s Day, online tributes in the week leading up to Father’s Day (21 June) highlighting how fathers sacrificed for their families have popped up all over social media. 

The modern-day Father’s Day was first observed in 1910 on the third Sunday in June in Spokane, Washington. Inspired by a church service honouring mothers in 1909, Mrs Sonora Louise Smart Dodd petitioned for a day to honour fathers and her efforts were paid off a year later.

Yahoo Lifestyle SEA spoke to three directors in three different industries to learn more about how their fathers helped shaped their lives and influenced their career choices this Father’s Day. 


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Gilbert Ong posing with his father. (PHOTO: Gilbert Ong)

“My father was an F&B manager of a 5-star hotel and was one of the few Singaporeans who held a department head position during the 80s,” Gilbert Ong, Director of Marketing and Communications (Cluster) for Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel shared as part of Millennium Hotels & Resorts’ efforts to celebrate Fathers’ Day.

“I was 18 when he passed away. When my son was born, I wanted to know more about my father and his experiences.” 

Looking to explore more into his father interest and passion in hospitality, Gilbert took the plunge and left his 15-year career in music and TV for marketing and communications. 

Heading Marketing and Communications at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel & M Social Singapore now, Gilbert started small, working from pre-openings in Thailand to renovating hotels in Singapore.

“Hospitality has made me a better person. The long hours are real, but the joy of creating memories for guests is what keeps me going.” 

Jessica Kazuki with her father. (PHOTO: Jessica Kazuki)

Long working hours are what Jessica Kazuki, Director at Hakata Japanese Restaurant, can relate. “Growing up, it was always me and my younger brother as both dad and mom are busy working 24/7 for the family restaurant.” 

Born to a Japanese father and Singaporean mother, Jessica joined her father in managing their Japanese restaurant despite graduating with a Bachelor of Psychology at James Cook University. “While helping out at the restaurant, I realised we could spend more time together as a family and that was what kept me going.” 

“My dad was the most dependable person in the family. Two years ago, mom was diagnosed with an aneurysm and was rushed into emergency surgery. While she was fighting for her life, dad drove us back to the restaurant. It was a Friday night, which meant the restaurant will be at its busiest.” Jessica recalled. 

“To others, they would have thought that dad was being a cold-hearted spouse. But to us, he said: ‘Who will provide for mom’s upcoming expenses? I am not going to leave a debt for you to shoulder.’”  

Hannah Lau posed with her family for a graduation photo. (PHOTO: Hannah Lau)

The refusal for their child to burden any debt echoes with Hannah’s father. “My father surrendered all his endowment policies prematurely to fund my education,” Hannah Lau, Financial Services Director of Hannah Lau Group (Great Eastern) shared.

“Growing up, we were never rich but my parents supported me in all my education and career choices. Not wanting me to shoulder loans, my dad decided to cash in all of his and mom’s endowment policies to pay for the costs of my university education. Even though he lost money by doing so, that was his way of showing love and support for me.” 

Having worked in a variety of jobs including being the female dancer alongside Jay Chou in his Singapore concert, Hannah found her calling in the financial industry. 

“It is perhaps, my way to give back to my father. He surrendered his policies to fund my education, enabling me to join this industry, and giving me the chance to make this the ultimate career path for me in life.” 

Share with us your Father’s Day tributes in the comment below.