Growing Up

I think of how our parents reared us when we were kids and see us now, I can say that they’ve done a great job. But it wasn’t easy growing up in a small town in the Northern province of Isabela in the Philippines.

My Mom’s family is well off, I think. She’s the youngest of 2 siblings. Her older brother migrated in the US and worked as a Doctor. I haven’t seen him in my growing years. My Mom is a CPA. They both studied and graduated in the University of Santo Tomas. My Mom’s parents were both teachers. My Lola (grandma) is a pure Ilocano. She can’t speak Tagalog that much but she’s very fluent in english. My Lolo (grandpa), is a pure Tagalog from the province of Nueva Ecija. I remember my Lolo having this weird long face that doesn’t smile, walks funny (looks like he’s always running), always drooling, and when he’s sitting and wants to stand, he will call one of us to help him up. He died when I was 6. When I grew up, I have learned that my Lolo had Parkinson’s disease.

Mom’s family owns a vast rice field (vast because I was always tired walking from one field to the other and then we would drive to another place and walk another long way). I remember spending summer in the rice field during harvest time. We’d eat in the field with the farmers. Then they will come to our house with the sacks of rice stacked in our bodega (store room). In the morning, a group of farmers will open up the sacks of rice to let it dry in a cemented pavement in front of our house until it’s ready to sell.

Dad’s family, on the other hand, lives in the city in the Northern part of Isabela. Whenever we go visit them, we have to travel far. It’s a bit crowded in their place. The houses are very near each other. Unlike in our place, the houses are far away from each other, surrounded by ricefields. There are tricycles and jeepneys everywhere. But I love visiting my Dad’s parents. They’re a funny bunch of people. They’re always happy and they make me laugh. Unlike my Lola, Mom’s mother, who is very strict and doesn’t smile. That’s all I remember about them. They both died when I was young.

Even if we have a vast ricefield, I cannot say that we are rich. We are 6 children in the family. Mom works in a local bank, while Dad works as a teacher in a school in the nearby town. Our house is a bungalow type of house with 4 bedrooms. I used to sleep in my parents room until I got transferred to Lola’s room. When Lola migrated to the US, my aunt occupied her room. I remember sleeping in our parents room together with my 3 other younger sisters. My older sister and older brother had their own rooms. When they went to college, Mom let us occupy our older sister’s bedroom.

It was tough growing up. We all experienced being hit by a belt or a stick whenever someone did something wrong. I remember my younger sister being sacked, literally. We didn’t always get what we want. Mom always says, if you want something, you should work hard for it. She taught us how to save. I even got my own piggy bank and passbook. But we weren’t deprived. We did experience good things. During summer, we’d go somewhere to relax and enjoy. On Christmas, we’d have a blast. We’d hang 6 empty socks on the wall and find it the next day filled with candies and money. The Christmas tree is filled with gifts. We’d have new toys, new clothes and shoes. On our birthdays, we’d have party. On weekends, we’d play outside or play video games, watch cartoons from morning till night.

Mom wasn’t always there to guide us in our studies because she was always busy with work. But we all excelled in school and brought home ribbons and medals. My parents were able to send us all to college, graduated and got degrees, passed the local board exams and obtained a professional license.

I see families now and how they rear their children, and see how those children have become makes me wonder. My older brother gives his sons everything he says he was deprived of when he was a kid. Like the toys he wants so badly that my parents refuses to give him, or doing every homework for his son because our parents weren’t there to help us, things like that. Now I see my brother’s sons not mindful of how hard their Dad works for them. They see punishment as a form of hate, not love.

I think the kind of rearing most parents does today, is the kind of rearing they wish they had when they were kids. They don’t want their children to experience the bad things they have experienced growing up. Then the comparison comes between kids today from kids before. Well, I’d say, my parents did a great job.

There is no book you can find that teaches you on how to become a good parent. And I think, there is no parent out there who can claim that they are a good parent as well. There will be times that disciplining your child makes you feel guilty. Rearing a child is tough. Whatever the child becomes in the future, we easily think of the parent who reared them.

Each parents have their own style of parenting and we are not to judge. If you are having a tough time as a parent, just think of how you grew up and how you turned out to be.


Unconditional love

I had the chance to talk to the wife about her son. When the nurses and doctors were reviving her child, she said, she was talking to her son to fight, to not give up. If he’s thinking that she made too many sacrifices for him, don’t worry, she said, she will not get tired of taking care of him. She will take care of him all of her life. The child’s heart beat on the monitor were faintly showing signs of improvement.

The husband, on the other hand, while seeing how badly their son looks, fighting for his life, realized that it’s time to let him go. He talked to his son, saying, “son, if you want to go, just go. I know you’ve been fighting for us. I know how tired you are. You need to rest. Mama and I will be okay.” The monitor were showing deterioration, then some faint improvement, highs and lows, as if the child cannot decide whether to go or not, to leave his parents who devoted their life for him, or to finally give them the life they deserve.

Finally, the child let go. The monitor showed the end of life. The couple hugged their son like there’s no tomorrow. They’ve never known life without their son.

7 years, and now they feel like nothing is left. I was wiping my tears when the wife was telling me all this. I may have not known Gabby that long, but I can feel the love between the family. He may not be able to tell his parents how thankful he is for the unconditional love they gave him despite his illness, but I know that wherever he is right now, he is watching over them like an angel.