As far back as I could remember Dec 5, the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has always been considered the National Father's Day. Today is the first time in the lives of millions of Thais to observe this important occasion without the beloved royal father figure.
Respectfully referred to by many Thais as phoe luang (royal dad) or often simply as phoe (dad), the King has earned such a special place in our hearts not just because he was a monarch but rather because he was a selfless monarch who tirelessly devoted his life to improve the well-being of the people in this country, regardless of race or religion. Over the seven decades of his benevolent reign, through numerous royal projects and initiatives, it has been evident that the fatherly love King Bhumibol had for Thai people never ever faltered.
Phoe Luang was, and still is, a role model who constantly kindles an immense inspiration in the nation. With no need for a campaign, the idea of tham dee phuea phoe (do good deeds for dad) has long been embraced by grateful Thais who wish to do something in return for the love and dedication that the King had for everybody.
I'm not sure if the following phenomenon had ever happened elsewhere in the world. Since his passing on Oct 13, the sadness over the big loss aside, people across the nation have been feeling the irresistible urge to follow the royal footsteps, to do things that benefit others.
From the Grand Palace where the royal funeral is taking place to Sanam Luang, both sides of Ratchadamnoen Avenue and nearby areas, it's not uncommon to see among the black-cladded mourners, people offering free food, drinks, candies, inhalers, mourning black ribbons and even taxi services to strangers, free of charge.
There are also volunteers of all ages who travel to those mentioned locations to collect rubbish to keep the places clean and tidy. On Facebook, countless Thai users not only proclaim that they are "proud to have been born in the Ninth Reign" and post photographs and video clips of Phoe Luang at work; they also vowed to be good persons as a tribute to the great man. Throughout the country, people try to do whatever good deeds they can to show their gratitude to the national father figure.
On the day of his coronation, King Bhumibol promised, "We will reign with righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the people of Siam (Thailand)". Time has proven that Phoe Luang never failed to keep his words. Let's hope that we too will always uphold our "do good deeds for dad" resolution and make sure that his hard work will never go to waste and that his legacy will forever grace the Kingdom.
Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post's travel editor.
Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post's travel editor and a mountain bike freak.