In and Out of the Family Values

EDIT: This is my official entry to the St. Barbara Height's blogging contest. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could like and/or share my entry - Please click link. Thank you!

The values of a typical Filipino family lie within its long heritage culture. Generations after generations, we’ve been taught to be selfless when it comes to our loved ones’ sake, and no one ever sees wrong in that. 

Through the years, we have learned to live with the norm that our family is always right and that we should go after their steps, adopt their beliefs, attitudes, and ideal, and pass on the tradition to our successors.

But have you ever thought about how different things would be if you had the ability to break the norm in your hands; to choose to do something your family would never want you to? Would the values you have inherited from deep down your roots completely fade away as if you never intended to keep them?

I am not the breadwinner in our family. In fact, I am the youngest of six siblings. Growing up as the youngest in the family means having to live the springtime of life your siblings never had the chance to. I was fed with silver spoon, provided with everything I needed and wanted without having to ask for it. My mother would always say, “Maswerte ka,” then went on to compare our lives today with what they used to have when I wasn't born into the world yet.

I never had a problem with academics. I was always an honor student in grade school, got into the top class in high school, and admitted to a distinguished state university in college. The only problem perhaps was how my parents, who have been unemployed for over a decade now, would pay for my school fees. Fortunately, even that wasn't an issue—at least not to the point that I have to skip a semester or pass on a school activity because I don’t have a money to pay for the expenses. My siblings, who all graduated from college despite the hardships and have their own families now, never thought twice about providing for my needs. They just did.

Going out of the family premises

In college, I had to brave the city life and move to Manila which was, at the time, a huge alien place for me. I never left my mother’s side until that weekend prior to my first day in university. Many thoughts came rushing through my mind at that moment—the anticipation, the fear, and above all, the happiness. It felt as though I was a bird finally freed from its cage. And I knew back then that there were so many things waiting for me to be unfolded.

When you’re a lone wolf amidst a bustling city with unfamiliar faces, it gets confusing and sad. Coming from a serene town with a small circle of people, it was hard for me to cope and cultivate into this new lifestyle that seemed so different from what I'd been used to. Months and months had passed and I still didn’t know where I truly belonged. I missed my family, the homemade food my mom would prepare for me, the lukewarm bathwater waiting for me in the cold breeze of the morning. 

She wasn't there with me, nor were my father and my siblings. The only companion I had was myself, and the only anchor I had was the learning I had garnered from them.

Over time, vivid clouds have opened up and I gradually learned how to interact with the urban people. I made friends and left some; discovered new things and somehow forgot the old ones. There are numerous things I witnessed; things that have influenced my values and beliefs today. Among these are ones my family would always warn me about—the ugly and the bad that I should never do or even support.

When you finally experience the life you didn't know you've been longing for so long, it feels as though you're on cloud nine. You'll be awestruck by everything you see, by everything you discover. And it will occur to you, 'How come have I never done this before?'

That's what happened to me, at least, and the only answer I believed was because of my family and its traditional values that had kept me in the dark for so long. I knew they had good intentions of protecting me, but isn't it absurd that because of their so-called protection, I'm being locked up in a small world and missing the chance to be fully-developed as an individual? Besides, their old-fashioned beliefs are already outdated; my generation knows better now, and I believe it's their turn to learn from us.

That's why despite the (thoughtful) precautions from my family, I did all that I wanted to do even though it may mean disappointing them. I knew those things I discovered have made me become open-minded about the different social issues; become accepting of others for who they are, whatever wrong they may have done; and more importantly, they taught me the value in supporting others instead of judging them. I believe having faced the real-life enigma and learning to fathom it rather than avoiding it made me realize there was more of what you can learn than just that of inside your home premises, and this was part of it.

It was also then that I realized you can never have the same beliefs and values with your family, no matter how much you love them. Still, I never made them feel as though I am a different person now from who I used to be. All I did around them was be myself—changes and all—and perhaps, they already knew it was part of my growing up. They never said anything that would hurt my feelings and dent my relationship with them.

Family stays, always

Graduation came and I was finally out of my family's control—or so I thought. Now was supposedly my payback time. I was going to pay back my parents and siblings for everything they have done for me. The unceasing kindness, love, and support they have shown all throughout, this was the time to give them all back.

But being an adult is harder than I thought. Things are different, and again, I find it difficult to cope. The long work hours, getting paid, and having to budget that particular amount of money for a particular duration of time—everything is brand new.
My little salary isn't enough to help support my parents' needs. It's just enough for my food and rent, or sometimes not even. Still, I've never heard one thing from them; they never pointed their fingers at me; just all smile and support and picture of pride as they watch me working towards my career success.

That's when it all came rushing back—my family, all along, have been there with me, giving me bits of advice they knew would help me when the time comes that I reckon nothing else could.

Did I mention how they would always remind me to never settle for anything less than I deserve; to be always mindful and take personal responsibilities; to save a portion of my money; to prioritize my education; to not judge others; to not laugh at things that aren't supposed to be a joke; that my time to do things I wasn't supposed to do as a child would also come; among numerous others?

All this time, they knew that the day would come when I finally realized the importance of the values formed within our little home; how all the things I learned in college and still learning now are part of the values that they already taught me as a child—and that's the reason they let a bird like me explore on its own. They knew that some things are not-fully-understood within your comfort zone. You have to be out there and do things on your own. And at some point, they also knew that I'd look back, and when that happens, the first thing that I see is them.

One's values and beliefs start at home. As time goes by, he will learn to derive from many sources—such as friends, peers, and his environment as a whole. Still, he will always come back to where he started because everything points back to it. 

Many of the things that you will learn outside your home, you have already learned within its walls. Somehow, when you encounter the things you're incapable of facing at home, your perception broadens and everything is much clearer than it was before. Hence, you finally understand what your parents were trying to teach your immature mind; why they never taught the other things and instead filtered the values that they have shown you—it's because they were allowing you to learn on your own and be the free bird that you are.

That's when I also realized that my generation doesn't know better. The saying, "Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ako," is indeed true after all, albeit not in all cases perhaps.

Still, I'm a firm believer that there are several values and beliefs that my family and I will not agree with. But that doesn't mean I should utterly forget all that they have taught me. In the end, no matter where fate takes me, those values will define a huge part of who I am.

This is my official entry to the St. Barbara Height's blogging contest. Check out their FB page here:



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