How My Family Worked as a Team - The Soapbox Filipina
How My Family Worked as a Team
We are a typical Filipino family. Dad, the breadwinner. Mom, the home maker.
My Dad had a printing business and restaurant. He would wake up at 5 am and sleep late like around 2 am. My siblings and I went to school without having to depend, on other people for support. It was solely my Dad, who worked for us. His hard work and dedication inspired us all, many times over.
My Mom took care of us. She was always there, to teach us new things. She shared to us, her love for books. She was always in the house, by our side. She never had close friends -to spend some time with.She rarely went home to her own town -to be with her family.
Our parents had high hopes for all of us. Even it seemed, nearly all too impossible at that time, to send all eight of their children to good schools.
Our parents were perfect partners: especially as the dad and mom tandem. Our dad is our greatest fan, while our mom is devil’s advocate, always pushing us to our potential.
There are two older sisters who are the “Ates” (the department I am part of, with me being the eldest.). We had to set good examples, for the younger ones to follow.
Then there was Kuya, the third one in our family who was a bit serious than the rest ( in a family of crazy people, that is).He was the disciplined one. He was more of the leader -especially when the two older sisters had to leave home for college.
It became certain for us: my sister, my brother and me that as the “ates and kuya”, we were the role models. While our parents were the coaches, we were team captains.As the older siblings we had to be giving and generous. We also had to be protective of the others. We had to be extra careful with our words and actions. We were the shoes with which the younger ones were going to fill in. ( literally, since they also get to wear our hand me downs)
The younger siblings were team players. Their role exactly, was to be obedient to the older ones. ( and of course, not complain when given hand me downs) The younger siblings were the ones who had to say, “Oo Ate, Oo Kuya.’
“Oo ate… oo ate…puro na lang ako oo ate! Daig ko pa ang manika de susi. Nakagapos na nga ang paa’t kamay ko, pati ba naman puso, nakagapos pa din? ( Aww suma- Sharon, Nakagapos na Puso.)
Therefore, it was the younger siblings who were sent to the nearby sari-sari store. In an “obey before you complain kind of way.”
Ate to Bunso : “paliti ko ug sachet nga conditioner sa tindahan” ( bilhan mo ako ng sachet ng conditioner)
Bunso: “ako nalang pirmi! ” ( ako nalang parati! )
The younger siblings had to live up to the expectations of the family. They had to do good in school. Most especially when one “Ate”, the second sibling, was an achiever. (She was an honor student since nursery, finishing Cum Laude at U.P. Diliman and later on taking a second degree which is nursing.)
Talk about younger ones emulating the older ones.
Our youngest sibling almost exactly did the same. Eighteen years later, the youngest sister, who was also an honor student since nursery, finished Cum Laude at U.P. Diliman and eventually pursued another degree which is law.
My mom would always say this: “Kinahanglan sa akong mga anak, equal opportunities sa tanan: tanan bright, tanan guapa ug guapo, tanan successful, wala’y ma ulahi!”
We worked as a team.
We all helped one another.
We had to make sacrifices as we grew older.
I am the eldest. I seemed to have been the one, first, to make the biggest sacrifice. I left my dearest barangay and city, for a chance in the premiere university in Manila. But as they say, ” you do not settle,you go”. I felt that staying in Manila would open doors, not only for me but for my siblings, too. It was a very big sacrifice to make and I was only sixteen.
I was scared. I missed my big, noisy and loving family. I wanted to go home.
I got to see my family and siblings during the semester, the christmas and the summer breaks. After two years, my other sister enrolled in the same university. It was not that lonely anymore.
Eventually, after college, my sister and I began earning from our jobs. We helped our parents send our three younger brothers to school. We also helped our brothers settle in Manila.
There were difficult times also for us, if you should know. There was a time when my sister who was the one earning the most that time, had to transfer to another company. She had to save every little penny she had. While I had to pray for bigger commissions, hefty bonuses and good health, so I could support my brothers -all year round.
Now, as for my engineer brothers coming to Manilla, they had to adjust too. They had to find work that might help our other younger siblings. The best anecdote my brothers would tell us, would that be of them walking around the Alabang area.They had to endure the scorching sun. They left resumes to companies while dreading to be invited for a walk-in interview (in their soaked-in-sweat-long sleeves).
They had to watch every penny spent. As my brother Vito would say, ” kendi -kendi lang sa ta ani.” ( which meant having to skip lunch and pull out a piece of candy)
Perfect timing and a stable job were very important for all of us. ( meaning we all had to hold on to our jobs, while the younger siblings were still in college) All of us, four older siblings had to have work -for there were younger ones still in college.
Although our parents never demanded it on us, we took it on ourselves to help our parents and our younger siblings.
I guess we were just generous to our siblings and generosity has its rewards. My sister and I are fortunate to have married generous husbands.
My sister got married when she was in her late twenties while I got married at thirty-one.
We had to wait for two of our younger brothers to finish college and pass their respective board exams.
In other words, our brothers had to be licensed engineers first before my sister and get our marriage license. Although we did marry hardworking husbands, my sister and I were not anymore major players in the economics of our family.
But it was also about this time that our dreams for our family began happening. Our third brother finished college, became a programmer and started earning already.
It was now my three brothers turn, to help our parents, in the college tuitions of three younger siblings.
My brothers lived simpler lifestyles. They also put on hold wedding plans, till the youngest sister finished law school.
I have always put emphasis on my big family – our childhood and the place we grew up with, because it gives me so much love and pride.
We were brought up knowing our strengths. We knew each of us will contribute in making the family stronger. We speak highly of our own parents and our siblings, to other people. We never put each other down or uttered any hurtful words to any family member. We had each other’s back -ready to give one another prayers and words of encouragement and love.
As siblings with individual personalities, different perceptions and contradicting viewpoints, we always found ways ” to agree to disagree”, especially on issues about our family.
Despite the odds, financial challenges and emotional concerns, we stuck it out.
Howbeit the uncertainty the future held, we never gave up on each other.
Today, we look back at our hand-me-downs, our long narra table, our spacious living room, our single communal bathroom and portioned-out meals, with pride and happiness.
Meanwhile, all eight of us are now grown-ups, each having careers and our own families and children. Now that our parents are getting grey haired and sentimental, I want them to know that they did a really great job!
TEAM BANAAG has two U.P. cum laudes, two licensed engineers, two registered nurses, two I.T. programmers, one U.P. lawyer and alright, one mommy blogger!)
My thoughts on being a family?
Thank the Lord everyday for your families.
Be a team.
Believe in each other.
Encourage each other.
Watch each other’s back.
Keep in mind that their success is yours and so is their failure.
Be each other’s number one fan.
Know that you have different strengths and weaknesses.
Remember that your siblings are your greatest gifts from God.
Inspire one another.
Never forget that warm feeling of family!
Appreciate the sacrifices they made for you.
Appreciate your differences.
Pray that trials may not divide the family but unite everyone instead.
In the future, you will play a crucial role in your sibling’s past, make it memorable and precious.
And from the movie, Kid Kulafu, this I quote,
“Ang buhay mahirap pa sa boxing. Pero dapat sama sama , walang iwanan.”
Thank you Mama Mary for everything!