The First Day of My Christmas Holiday

I have been unexpectedly quiet these past few days.  I'm not sure if I have fully absorbed that I am actually in Cebu already, my hometown, and supposedly rekindling the warm and fuzzy feeling of the holiday cheer and family ties.  I was abruptly interrupted with all the holiday musings when upon our arrival the first order of discussion was the family's succession plan.  Our forebears have bequeathed a huge legacy to us through an educational institution  standing 80 years old.  Some of my relatives work in the place.  Some of my cousins grew up studying there.  But amidst it all is a wounded relationship of ties that keep the organization's core from moving forward.  

Oh how I would love to write the saga of our family!  Perhaps even try to make sense of it by uncovering all the stories intertwined in knots hidden from common revelation.  But I can't.  The story isn't finished and I do not think that without a happy and illuminated ending will fulfill me in the writing process.

My HR hat was on for the past 2 days.  Trying to facilitate dialogue amongst my cousins and sifting their views.  I was met with a lot of frustration.  Like a tightly capped bottle forced open, the woes outpoured. Empathy for parents sacrificing their lives for the institution.  Pained for relatives who arrogantly lord over their authority without cause.  Haunted by the estrangement of others.  But all, ultimately longing for one thing.  Survival and family preservation.

I find very little room to bring into the table a discussion of purpose and meaning.  Vision and mission.  Most would like answers on how to move forward and alleviate their families from financial strain.  Grab opportunities that would lift them from the uncertainty of a stable financial future.  

Such is the story of the Filipino family.  A movement from generation to generation of survival and alleviation from poverty.  Pursuing dreams of upliftment.  Coming back having seen the world and find every little comment to say against the crudeness of our society, our country and even small things such as the weather and the ventilation systems in restaurants.

Now I'm thinking farther from family and on to the general population of Filipinos who have left the country and found their fortune.  How they generally change in their perspective of life.  How their views evolve from desiring everybody's social welfare to a more myopic perspective of self-preservation.   And how some of them grow to love the country even more after having been away from home.  It's odd the transitory life of migrants and the transitory changes from generation to generation.

Personally, I greatly appreciate those who maintain their feet on the ground and broaden their worldview of things that can eventually help themselves and those around them.  I have deep respect for those who integrate their own cause and purpose to those of others common to them.  That's just me.  I'll probably get loads of remarks as "it is easier said than done" or "you've never had to deal with what I had to deal with".  

Still, if I can write about it and find words to give life to my thoughts, I'm a happy lady.  So here's to prayers that someday this memoir will be written and can illuminate lives of others struggling to find their place in their family and in their own worlds.


  1. Oh, family. What a joy and a challenge. I spent a couple of days back home for Christmas with my mother and two adult siblings. My brother, sister, and I are in this odd space of trying to re-negotiate our relationships with one another, now that we're all grown up and settled in our careers (Well, *they* are mostly settled in their careers. I'm the eldest, yet still finishing my final semester of graduate school). I feel sort of guilty that I don't really know them very well anymore--that I have much more in common with my friends than I do with my own flesh and blood, that I communicate with my friends more frequently than with the people I've known for 20+ years.

    I find your comments on Filipino family, culture, and society fascinating. I don't think I've mentioned publicly (that is, on my blog) that the last man I truly cared about was a Filipino-American (yes, the same one who broke my heart). He tried ever so hard to be an all-American boy, at least around me, and never mentioned much of anything about his cultural background. I would have been a receptive and delighted audience, because I treasure the friendships I have with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, and most of my friends enjoy sharing that aspect of their lives with me. I'm still greatly puzzled by him, even though it's been over six months since it all ended. He kept so much under wraps, including the loss of his father. He never wanted to appear anything but strong, in control, and self-assured around me. I still ponder and pray....

  2. Yes I feel the same way. I was just chatting with a cousin who lives in Minnesota. He's the one I resonate with the most in my family and I told him that I keep wondering why spending the Christmas holidays together never fully give us a view of who each other is and appreciate our bonds as family. We usually pride ourselves that we're a close knit family but we're only close a fellowships can go. It's sad. But it's a reality. I wish I can share my entire soul to my family.

    Yes, you didn't mention that the man you cared about was Fil-Am. How interesting. :) Filipinos are chameleons when they leave the country. We are known for our adaptability. We can copy any accent. We can sing any song. I suppose it is because we have been colonized by several different nations before our own independence. But the heart of a true Filipino is still very much nestled in the family. I hope you find your peace with him. :)

  3. This post also got me thinking about the unique, under-appreciated blessings God has given me, wrapped up in the package of family. I realized that although I often doubt that members of my family "understand" me, I don't really doubt that they'll support me and even fight for me, just when I need it most. There's a lot of security and loyalty there, even though our lives have grown in different directions. I don't think I'm as aware and as grateful as I could be.

    Thank you. :)

  4. You are quite right in that aspect. I think that is what family is really supposed to be. Even when the other person stops making sense to you, there is something that just makes you accept him/her for who they are. Thank you for reminding me too Rachel. :)


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