While photographer Jun Sunga has always dreamt of becoming a parent, getting his wife, model Vanessa Matsunaga on board was still a nerve-wracking experience. “I remember taking Vanessa on a really nice date in Singapore, and at the end the evening I proposed the idea to her. I’m not sure why I was nervous, even more than when I asked her hand in marriage,” he reveals to ABS-CBN Lifestyle.
[related: Mod Moms: Brapanese Model Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga On Being A Fabulous First-Time Mom]
Luckily, everything worked out. Five years into their marriage, they welcomed their firstborn Isabella. In 2018, their youngest, David, followed. Jun's life hasn’t been the same since.
[related: Cheat Sheet: How To Personalize Your Baby Gender Reveal A La Vanessa Matsunaga]
The best part, he says, is feeling like he has an added sense of purpose. “All you have to do is be present no matter what the circumstances and situations are. Studies show that a father’s presence will have a direct impact on how a child will be as an adult,” Daniel Matsunaga's brother-in-law explains.
As easy as that sounds, fatherhood nonetheless required adjustments to Jun’s usual routine. Practicing patience towards his kids, speaking in a baby tone, worrying about their safety, and sacrificing personal time were just some of the things he found himself learning as a new dad. “There are days you skip basketball for family time and that’s huge especially when ball is life (laughs). Sometimes my basketball group doesn’t make it to 10 players because most of us are fathers now,” he admits with a laugh.
In some ways, it affected Jun's day job. Work extends to his family more than ever, in the sense that a lot of the time he spends with Vanessa and his two kids is now documented through the pictures he uploads on social media. “Even before Instagram and Facebook I’ve always been passionate about sharing good news and good vibes. It’s probably the photographer in me,” he reflects.
Jun likes to believe his posts serve a bigger cause—one that will benefit his lineage in the years to come. “After fatherhood, I realized that I can share our journey as a family,” he beams. “The best part is that the content will be in the web forever, even after I’m gone. I always tell my friends that they should use social media to leave digital foot prints the future generations of their family can see. I wish I knew what my great great great grandfather was like. Now, because of the internet, we can make this possible for my successors and their successors.”
Jun doesn’t use these apps for pictures, though. He recognizes the impact it makes on how fathers like him raise kids. “Nowadays when a person is looking for answers they tend to check social media first, especially if they have questions about a particular experience. Parenting should be unique to each but what matters most are the kind of influencers influencing your style. Wisely choosing (who) you follow and fact checking the information they share will make a huge difference,” he explains.
That said, Jun encourages his little boy and girl to adapt to (and not abuse) the technology around them. “I want my kids to use iPads and iPhones. I believe it will be an essential tool for their generation as it is now. iPads are being used as books, cash registers or even as menus now. Imagine how else they’ll be used in the future! I want my kids to be able to adapt quickly especially because the advancements are fast. The trick is knowing when tech is being overused. There should always be balance,” he says.
For now, Jun is relishing every minute as a papa of two so much that when asked to describe his kids, he does so in vivid detail. “My daughter is now three years old. She has quick eyes and observes like a hawk—something I’d like to think I have. In the beginning, it was all about mommy but at this point it’s all about me. She’s super malambing and thoughtful towards me. 'Daddy, wear your seatbelt,' 'Daddy, drive carefully,' 'Daddy, hold my hand,' 'You are a good cook, Daddy' are just some phrases I get on the daily. If that doesn’t show you that you are loved and thought of highly then you have a heart of stone."
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Photographs courtesy of Jun Sunga