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The Soapbox Filipina | November 12, 2019

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Short of A Dozen But Eight In A Million ( from 2009, an entry) - The Soapbox Filipina

Pier Angeli B. Ang Sen

In a period when kids were troubled by acne and puppy love, at thirteen, I was deeply concerned about the future, my future.

I was afraid of ending up in the streets without a good education.My parents’ resources were limited; their finances divided.

This was attributable to the fact that we had a big family.

We are a family of eight children; four girls and four boys.

I was the eldest and too many children, I thought, reduced all my chances of having a better life.

And it also brought me further away from the possibility of owning a Reebok high cut shoes like everyone in our school during the eighties did.

Coming from a family who loved to read, I turned to books to brighten up my perspective.

It brought me to places where my feet could not.

It transported me to Bayport area where two famous Hardys live.

It provided a mask when my reality would not.

I could be as smart as Nancy Drew as pretty as Jessica Wakefield and as wealthy as Veronica Lodge.

I could even be an only child if I wished to.

I could be anyone other than myself. I have read a number of books in my teens but one particular book impassioned my love for reading.

It was from my mother’s collection that I chanced upon a book entitled “Cheaper by the Dozen” .

It is an endearing story about The Gilbreth Family who had twelve children.

In so many ways did their family mirrored mine; it made me recognize that our family was as wonderful as theirs.

Just what do only children do with themselves” , was a line in the book that caught my eyes.

I realized, I did not have the answer to that because with big families like ours, we never run out of things to do.

We could always play hide and seek and patintero or Cluedo and Monopoly without crossing over the neighbor’s place.

We even had our own variety show, a “That’s Entertainment” type complete with attire and musical instruments.

Even with younger children running around, eager to modify the older ones’ science projects, our house was filled with love and happiness.

I felt good seeing my family in the same way the authors Frank Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth saw theirs.

But it was the conversation between the little son Billy and his Dad Frank that plainly reverberates in my head.

His son asked if he had a million dollars.

The dad answered, “ I have a MILLION CHILDREN instead. Somewhere along the line a man has to chose between the two.”

My parents could have few children and have their millions but they chose to have us, all eight of us.

They unselfishly brought us in the best possible way they could.

Reading about the Gilbreth parents keeping their family together made me appreciate
my parents more.

They may not have been efficiency experts like The Gilbreths but I WAS BORN TO THE BEST PARENTS.

My father is a hardworking man. His printing business was able to provide for our needs.

We all went to good schools. He bought us good books. And we all lived in a wide three storey house .

Perhaps, just like Frank, my dad also thought that “any thing that he and mother teamed upon was sure to be a success” ; so they planned for a big family.

They defied all odds despite being thwarted by many.My father is very supportive of our endeavours.

No matter how busy he was, we would always find him at the front rows of all quiz bees and elocution contests we joined.

My mother is a very intelligent woman who loves to read. She taught us everything.

She too, like Frank Gilbreth would first try to capture our attention through

creative means before actually teaching us.

Just like it was in the Gilbreth household, learning was fun in our house. She, like Lilian Gilbreth was not a believer in corporal punishment.

Sometimes when my dad would try to administer one, she too would say the lines “not the head, not the head please”.

Seeing how fortunate I was to have such parents, I realized then that there was nothing to fear.

I wouldn’t have recognized my parents sacrifices had I not read about their family.

My big family has taught me the value of sharing and giving.

In fact, the four of us older children helped send the younger ones to college.

And as I look back now, I realized that

the small things like a piece of chocolate bar broken into eight chunks

or that allocation of ten chips for every pack of corn chips have been and is still is one of my simplest joy.

It has been twenty one years since Cheaper by the Dozen.

The future I feared at thirteen has long been gone; we all had a good education and we didn’t end up in the streets .

We are now our parents “millions”.

The three of us, I and my sisters Mirzi & Steffi went to the State University in Diliman;

Both Mirzi and Steffi finished CUM LAUDE in Business Economics and Philosophy, respectively.

Steffi is on her Second year at U.P. Law.

Mirzi pursued a second degree so both her

and my other sister Pia are now Registered Nurses.

My brother Gierek is an Electronics Communications Engineer for a bank.

My brothers Vito is a Civil Engineer for Federaland along Macapagal Road.

My brother Marco is an I.T. Programmer for Accenture.

Our youngest, Geo is about to finish his Information Management Course at Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan.

Two of us are now married and blessed with loving husbands and intelligent children.



( my husband Richard, my son Rafa and myself on a trip to Hongkong Disneyland )



( my brother in law ,Jong, my sister Mirzi and my niece, Kelly by Lady Liberty in New York City )

My father is serving the government as provincial board member of Camiguin.

My mother is still cooking the best dishes, giving pieces of advice and of course
like the rest of us, reading good books.

Both my parents are receiving praises for rearing responsible, respectful and disciplined children; eight children that is.

As for me, I am forever grateful to them as I am to the authors of the book.

Had it not been for it’s major impact in my life, I would still be the same selfish person like I was at thirteen.

The delightful Gilbreths had shown me how beautiful my family really was. The book gave me a different view point.

Since then I take books to heart for they indeed teach us important lessons.

Unlike when I was younger books, seem to be just a habit taken from my mother and my cousins.

But since the book Cheaper By The Dozen, everytime I take a book in my hands, I look forward to the new information, knowledge and values it would impart to me.

Families may not come cheaper by the dozen but experience has taught me , there is strength in numbers and power in books.

– Posted using BlogPress from Pier Angeli Ang Sen’s iPad2

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