MY FAMILY: A FILIPINO FAMILY
I. The Filipino Child
At present, we have a young generation. Why young? It is because we have more young than old citizens. One of the reasons behind this is perhaps the inability of many Filipinos to resist temptation or sexual urges especially those in the slum areas. But a young generation is not a threat at all. One of those thousands or else millions may possibly turn the current table upside down.
A Filipino child is normally raised in a typical home with a mother and father together with his/her siblings. The development of a Filipino child is the same with any other children in the world no matter what race they are in. What makes a Filipino child different from others depends on the family and his/her environment.
I always believe that who I am now was pre-determined and influenced by my experiences. I grew up in a simple family who is happy even though we only have a can of sardines for lunch. My parents raised me the way their parents raised them.
“A” – this is what they first taught me and also perhaps what all other parents taught their children in the pre-operational stage. I won’t give myself as an example. I’ll set my cousin who is now a Kindergarten pupil. I saw her grow physically, speak her first words and walk her first steps alone.
I was a grade six pupil then when she was born. This baby was different from us and our first degree cousins. She had a curled hair! Then our elders told us the reason why. Our late lolo, who we never met, also had a curled hair. “Wow!”, I said. She inherited a recessive trait.
Weeks passed, she was able to make little/weak sounds and move her head independently. Several months were removed in the calendar and there she is, crawling towards us with a big smile. Eventually, she stood up and started walking.
What amazed me was the way her speaking skills developed. We never talked to her in baby talk. We talk to her the normal way. She ended up speaking to people straightly a little bit earlier than other children.
These developmental stages are observed throughout the world. But what makes my cousin, a Filipino child, unique from others? The answer is simple. She grew up the Filipino way.
They always say that children tend to imitate what their elders do and say. This is true. In my cousin’s case, she began telling bad words which she thought were good. She got those words in their neighborhood. She changed when she started staying in our house every day. We always tell her what the right things to do and to say are. The bad words were eradicated in a short time. This proves that the environment plays a role in one’s development.
A Filipino child is not that different from others when it comes to the cycle of development. It’s the values that were taught to Filipino children in the house, school or neighborhood that distinguishes them from others. Filipino children are taught to be respectful. Parents always tell their children to say ‘po’ or ‘opo’ and to do the ‘pagmamano’ act whenever they meet someone older than them. This value, alongside with the strong love for the family, becomes tattooed to the personality of a Filipino child and will forever be with him until he grows old.
II. THE FILIPINO FAMILY
The Filipino family is normally an extended family. We have our closest relatives like our lolo, lola, tito and tita with us. We also interact with our farthest relatives. Even though we seldom see each other, when somebody needs help the rest of the relatives offers out helping hands. But today, this is not the case for some Filipino families. They’re ready to kill their relatives in exchange of their selfish desires.
There are a lot of innate Filipino values and traits that every Filipino family continuously passes on to the younger generation. One of which is hospitality. Many, if not all, are hospitable. We seldom refuse someone who knocks on our door. We always treat visitors as family members and vice versa. I think the idea that giving a visitor or a stranger a warm welcome is a courteous thing to do is imprinted in our minds.
Our family is an extended family. We have our grandmother and aunt with us. We are very close. We openly share what we feel about certain things like issues that bombard the society almost every day. We exchange stories especially during supper when the family is complete.
We have traditions and customs like any other Filipino families. One of the best occasions that bind the whole family together is Christmas. It is this season that we enjoy the most. Our parents have vacation too like us and that means they have time to bond with us.
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are the two highlights of the long Christmas season for me. It is during these nights that we help one another in accomplishing our long to-do-list. But what’s important is that we are complete and that we enjoy the company of one another.
This is what I think the signature mark of every Filipino family. Take everything that they have and leave them complete. That’ll make them happy no matter what happened. They would simply say, “Ang mahalaga kumpleto tayo”. Truth to tell, we are never at ease unless we are sure that at the end of the day, before we go to bed, our family is complete.
III. COURT & MARRIAGE
In my opinion, the Filipinos are one of the most dedicated and most serious when courting somebody who they wanted to be their partner in life. But the traditional ways of courting are now set aside by boys who find them too primitive or corny in some way. On the other hand, there are still many girls who prefer the traditional way of courting.
One of those ways is singing a serenade or what we locally call “Harana”. I can’t remember my parents telling me that my father serenaded my mother. Maybe he really did not do it. Did he? I have no idea.
As to what my parents and aunt told me, my father did a great job in courting my mother. I think they met in school and it is where their love story began. One night, my father went to my mother’s house a fewbarangays away from their house. He insisted to visit my mother late at night. The elders were annoyed then. A grandmother opened up a window and threw a pail of water to my father in her disgust. That was heroic for me. I cannot imagine myself in that situation for now. In the end, all the thoughtfulness, care and love that my father showed was in return given back to him by my mother. He was successful. They ended up in marriage.
Marriage in the Philippines is not a trend and not as easy as those in Las Vegas. You need to attend seminars, pay fees and prepare many things to make that one special day worthwhile. However, I’ve come to know that some marriages were done not because the couple really loves one another. It was done because a human’s forming in the woman’s womb already. For us Filipinos, we often have negative connotations on women who have a child and were left hanging on air by the child’s biological father.
My father and mother are almost 21 years married now. They got a strong relationship. My father stands as the primary breadwinner. My mother also works but mainly takes control of the family budget.
There are occasional misunderstandings. In a year, there are only about two or so. These small fights end up at the end of the day. They solve them before going to sleep which is good so that when the next day comes, everything is back to normal.
Marriage for Filipinos is sacred. It is a sacrament that needs to be respected. This is possibly why almost all Filipinos fight for their marriage even when there’s no more hope left.
When we speak about ageing two things come into my mind: first, the literal definition of the word ‘ageing’ and second, the idea that somebody who ages matures and sometimes not.
We add up a year in our age during our birthdays. Some would probably base the meaning of the word ‘ageing’ in terms of the number of years they have spent and continuously spend in the span of their mortal life. On one hand, ageing is really about a person who grows old and becomes worn out. We normally think that it is the word which describes a body that is less healthy or efficient.
As an extended family, Filipinos usually live with their ageing parents or grandparents. It has been a custom for us to take care of them when they reach their final years and cannot portray the role they had before. When a person started ageing, he/she starts to become a child once more. This is because he/she goes back to the pre-operational stage not because they do not know but because they are too weak to do them.
What I’ve observed with my grandmother is that she had become a deaf to some degree. She is not a complete deaf. It is just that she cannot hear what were saying sometimes. We need to tell things close enough for her to hear them. Add to that is her sense of sight. She is not entirely blind but I know she cannot see things as clear as I can see them.
I’ve read some books telling its readers that ageing people tend to wake up early. I personally believe in that statement. My grandmother’s room was beside mine and so I can easily hear little noise especially at night. I got annoyed way back in high school for she wakes up as early as 3 in the morning. She opens up the terrace door and fixes her things. This is her routine every single day. As a student, it was not hard for me to understand her.
My grandmother goes to the Church and hears mass every day. I thought it was absurd for an old woman to hear mass so early. There are no means of transportation at this time of the day and the only way for her to arrive at the destination is by walking. I also attend dawn masses when I was in the province. In my astonishment, 90% who attends the mass are ageing people – our lolo’s and lola’s. I suppose they all wake up early like my grandmother and there’s nothing else for them to do but to worship the Lord.
Like infants, people in who are ageing tend to be more susceptible to illnesses than those who are in the adolescent to early adult years. In fact, my grandmother catches disease easily than anyone in the family even though she drinks supplements and other vitamins.
What dictates the role a person who is ageing will portray is his/her state in health. They’re stage is as crucial as to the stage of infants and young children.