Cong. Teddy Casino: Father and Public Servant

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IBA NAMAN!  Congressman Teddy Casino doesn't fit the realm of traditional politics.  And for that, he has my ears.  He is not an actor nor the son of a politician.  Instead, he earned his way to Congress by staying on the streets pushing for good governance, justice and equality.

He is a relentless fighter for the marginalized and is an advocate of many causes that I,  in the comfort of my home,  am not willing to lift a hand for.  As a UP alumna,  the phrase, "Kung hindi tayo, sino?"  is a phrase I have long abandoned because it is just too inconvenient.  And I thank people like Teddy who has dedicated their lives actively seeking and advocating for the universal good.  As a congressman, he has authored bills that protect the welfare of the poor and a seat in the senate would further the causes of this altruistic man.  And for this he has my vote.

He is my dear editor-in-chief when I served as a writer for UPLB Perspective, the collegiate newspaper of UP Los Banos.  He has been a very supportive mentor in my early years as a writer and he has a good heart.  You know the feeling when you meet someone and you remark to yourself, "he is a good man," that is what I get when I see Teddy, good and selfless.  And for this he has my active support.

This interview is meant to give all of us a peek of who Teddy is as a father, as he shares his fatherhood style, how he balances family life and government service and his dreams and aspirations for his kids.  Get to know him ... he is a parent just like us:-)

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

My wife and I have two sons, Elian Nikolai and Emilio Rafael. Elian is turning 10 this April and Emilio just turned 5.

Describe Teddy Casino as a father. 

My children call me "Tatay." I indulge my children. I make it a point to play with them during my free time, trying very hard to make up for the limited time I can spend with them because of my work. 

I try to be a hands-on dad, making sure I am involved in their lives - even before they were born. In fact, Ruth and I took Lamaze classes so I can have a key role in their birth. When they were babies, I woke up early to bathe them in the early morning sun. I gave them baths, fed them, helped them burp and put them back to sleep after my wife breastfed them in the middle of the night. Nowadays, I bring them to soccer practice or tournaments, field trips and the like. I try not to miss special events.

I am goofy when I am with my two boys. I love to make them laugh. I cherish their hugs and kisses. But my kids also know that I can be strict so they behave when they see I mean business... well, most of the time I should say.

Favorite bonding activity with your kids

Elian and Emilio both love a good story, so a favorite bonding activity is telling bed time stories. There are many times, though, that I fall asleep in the middle of a story and they would have to keep me awake so they can hear the rest of it. They find this amusing but sometimes frustrating, since my stories tend to get nowhere when I'm in and out of consciousness.

Lately, we frequent a quaint coffee shop near our house for after-dinner coffee, hot chocolate, milk and cookie or cake. Its a cheap way to have some quiet time to ourselves.

Most memorable moment with each kid

There  are so many! I don't think there's a "most memorable" but here's a sample:

With Elian it was when we introduced him to swimming. He was around three years old at that time. We had a small pool in the compound where we were staying in. Elian loved the water from the first time we dipped him. Before we knew it, he jumped into the water by himself and started dog paddling. It was a very proud moment for me and made me dream of him winning an Olympic medal someday.

With Emilio it was when we went to the hospital for a blood test. I asked him if he wanted to know what color his blood was. He said yes. I put him on my lap to make him feel secure and when the Medtech put the needle in his arm and drew blood, he winced but did not cry, too intent on looking at the color of his blood. Such a brave and inquisitive kid!

What are your Teddy rules for your kids?  Best parenting advise?

Aside from the Ten Commandments, I guess two more:

1.   Eat your veggies. We practice meatless Mondays at home.
2. Everything can be discussed and settled among ourselves. Even the rules.

Best parenting advise is to respect your kids. They are more intelligent and understanding than you think.

Teddy Casino with family
How do you balance government service and family life?

There can be no real balance, only understanding from my wife and kids that what I am doing is for the good of our family and many other families who are poor and marginalized.

Do you get your kids involved in your many advocacies?  How?

Yes mainly by living by example and exposing them to what I do as an activist and a public servant.

Ruth and I try to expose them to people from all walks of life para matutong makisalamuha at makipagkapwa-tao. We try to inculcate the value of compassion for others, of caring for the environment, saving energy, observing good health, etc. so we sometimes bring them along with us to meaningful events like tree-planting and the Run for Naga River last year.

We explain to them why we need to live simply, why Nanay and Tatay do not have enough budget for expensive toys.

At home we ask them to turn-off the lights when not in use to save energy. We let them know that they were breastfed and explained to them that it is the best way to feed babies because it is natural, healthy and inexpensive. We practice meatless Mondays at home although Elian declares that he really is a meat-eater.

Teddy Casino runner
What are your hopes and dreams for your children?

Like any parent, I guess, it is my hope that my children will be able to pursue their own dreams unfettered by the social ills that have beset my generation and previous generations. I dream for them to live in a society where they can reach their full potential as human beings. Where they can achieve prosperity and happiness with, and not at the expense of, others.

As a congressman, what are the laws you have authored that supports children and families?

Among the laws I passed is R.A. 9504 which grants Tax Exemptions for Minimum Wage Earners and allows families to allocate a larger part of their earnings for food and education. I also co-authored R.A. 9775 or the Anti-child Pornography Act.

At present, I have several filed bills in Congress for the benefit of children: HB 2308 which sets a National Child Nutrition Program for public elementary schools and day care centers, HB 3665 which provides for the creation of city and municipal rehabilitation centers for children with disabilities, HB 4125 which grants a 50% discount to children six years old and below in all government hospitals, and many other legislation. I have also filed a resolution for the House of Representatives to have lactation stations for nursing mothers.

Lastly,  why should we parents vote for you?

Because I share the hopes and aspirations of most families for a better life and have actually worked for their fulfillment in various capacities. In my track record as a public servant - 15 years as a social reformist and 9 years as a lawmaker - I have advocated for basic social reforms that aim to uplift the lives of majority of our families, especially the poor and marginalized, whose parents and children are battered by poverty and other social inequalities.

To know more about Teddy and to support Teddy please click MyTeddyCasino.  To read his blog posts click on TeddyCasino.

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Image Credits:  top photo:  www.benjiecruz.com; 2nd photo:  froodie.blogspot.com; 3rd photo:  teddycasino.com; 4th photo: myteddycasino

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  This post is written to support a friend whom I have faith and confidence in.

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