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The Soapbox Filipina | November 17, 2019

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A Big Family

Pier Angeli B. Ang Sen

 

 

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Belonging to a big family is like being part of a group of people who all LIKED the same LINK, PICTURE or WALLPOST posted on FACEBOOK; different yet bound to one another for having ” liked ” the same thing.

I am LINKED to seven unique individuals who I necessarily LIKE and call my brothers and sisters. My connection with them is more colorful than PHOTO STILLS and more secure than WALLS & POSTS that make up the sanctuary we call HOME.

Having been born to a house with the number of people exceeding the “given unit of space”, I should say, I belong to a densely populated house.

(Eight Children: Four Girls, Four Boys)

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I am the eldest of eight ; As I was growing up and giving all my best effort to do just that, many disadvantages surfaced as the family became bigger.

The financial capability of my parents for one was compromised. Second, as some developmental psychologists would say , a certain amount of neglect happens to the children.

Also, there are many things which are naturally possible to many but are deemed unobtainable in a family composed of many children.

First, in my experience with our large family, the word “secret ” does not exist and if it would, it could be more likened to an heirloom , passed from one sibling to another.

Second , privacy is a latin word ( aptly belonging to the forgotten language) which may be uttered but never applied.

Third, the claim to ownership on certain things was never possible. It was because almost everything if not all ,eventually became communal.

(Like ones toys, shoes, bags,clothes , pants,shirts and of course the most coveted fluffy towel and slippers which regularly elicit conflict between us)

This of course brings to mind a term in the Visayan dialect which is UMANG. It is a term for a creature that borrows the house or shell or in this case , belongings of someone just because..( umangs abound in the Banaag residence)Thus , it would not come as a surprise if one of us, would by chance ,meet up with ones rubber shoes at an unlikely place other than the closet where it was last remembered to have been placed.

Fourth , food has never been in abundance , which was usually why, it was already divided amongst eight people before it had even reached the plate.

Lastly, you do lose character if you would not be assertive enough which regularly happened at the dining table.

On the other hand, the numerous advantages of being born into a big family undeniably offset the disadvantages , most especially, if the family is managed by responsible parents.

With our big family, the concept of duty and responsibility seemed to have sunk in our young minds even then. We were all given assignments by our parents especially the older ones whose responsibilities were mostly implied.

We were delegated to watch over the younger ones , fetch them from school or read stories to them. We also took turns in clearing the table and washing the dishes. We somehow knew that we had to take our duties seriously for someone or something will suffer if we did not.

Thus, in a our big family , teamwork is executable, sharing is practicable and empathy is viable.

Our minds seemed to have naturally absorbed the adage “Teamwork divides the effort—and multiplies the effect”. We learned to be patient , to take turns and put others before ourselves. It has also made us get along with anyone easily.

Being with a huge group or play group so to speak, must have somehow contributed in sharpening our intellects. With a number of individuals with umpteen views , we too have sharpened our verbal wits. None of us seem to have a hard time expressing ourselves.

It was more enjoyable to play board games like scrabble, cluedo, boggle and monopoly with an average number of playmates.

And also, having lived and grown up with a great number of girls and boys made our understanding of the opposite sex less problematic.

Lastly, you know how they say about Happiness shared and Sadness divided, it is true. All our achievements and successes in life, merited not only the applause of our parents but of seven pairs of hands as well.

And in times when loneliness caught up with any of us, we knew we would be there for each other.

In addition to that we were also fortunate that our parents were responsible ones . And when they decided to have a big family, they really worked hard for it.

So the amount of neglect in our family was not as significant or as pronounced as let’s say with that of families whose parents were not.

It is the quality of individuals who are in charge with the family, like the parents and not the quantity of children in the family which directly affects the quality of individuals that the family may produce someday.

My Dad worked in his printing business and karaoke bar , tirelessly. He strived to own a bigger vehicle which was our COMBI and a bigger house later on for all his children to fit into. He sent us to a good schools which was Montessori de Oro from grade school and highschool and on to Xavier University and U.P. Diliman in College. He bought us Encyclopedias and Guinness-es which were totally expensive then.

My mom on the other hand performed so many tasks. She sometimes helped Dad in his business but most of the time stayed at home to encourage, to support and to take care of our needs. Apart from cooking or doing the laundry which house helps sometimes did for her, it was her being by our side which made all the difference. As my sister Steffi puts it ,” mom is the walking dictionary, the book queen , the trivia machine, the resident astronomer, the hurt buffer and the most sought after counsel.” My mom was all ready to give kind words and encouraging thoughts. We all saw through our eyes, how our parents fulfilled their roles diligently as a strong husband& wife , father&mother TEAM.

Through continued prayers and unwavering support for each other, they never gave up on us, their children. And which is why we are grateful to our parents for despite of the odds that big families supposedly faced, they made things happen for our big family. Even now that we are all of age and financially independent, we still could not afford even at the slightest, raise our voices to our parents.

Although even before, talking back at our parents was never an ordinary occurrence in the house. ( I myself have not tried that AT ALL.)

We all have returned the sacrifices of our parents as expected of most children.

All eight of us are grown ups now, we lead different lives from one being that of a Law student, Cum Laude graduates, Licensed Engineers, Registered Nurses, Programmers to being Parents, ourselves. But we always find time to look back at those beautiful memories we have shared as children for they are priceless.

 

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