I’m not one who has ever been known to be good with kids… Be great if they were born housebroken, eh? Usually, my encounters with children are with those afflicted with Bratticus Horribilius, or something similar. I think I could make millions if I invented an ointment or something for that disease. So, for me to say what I’m about to say, those who know me must think that I’ve gone absolutely batty: I really like Filipino kids. I must say that I’ve experienced a 180 degree turnaround in my thought process. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve noticed that Filipino kids are some of the nicest, best behaved kids that I’ve ever met. I could speculate as to why, but I would be getting ahead of myself… I really think it has a lot to do with the family structure in the RP. I find “Mano Po” a very civilized custom, and, perhaps, things like that could explain it. A couple of short anecdotes:
Rebecca’s nephew lives with the family up in Abulug. His father is an OFW in the Middle East, and he can be a bit of a handful at times (Everyone gives him a lot of leeway to compensate for his father not being around). Rebecca made a big bowl of popcorn one day (She makes it with coconut oil and margarine… tastes just like at the movies… AWESOME!!), and her nephew was walking around basically leaving a trail. His little cousin, who is around five years old, grabbed a broom, without anyone asking her, and swept up the mess. He later made more mess, and she put both her hands on her hips and said, in Ybanag, something to the effect of “I’m not going to follow you around all day, clean up your mess!”. I told her, “Yeah, boys are really big slobs, huh?!!” She then swept everything up again, on her own. I was impressed… an American child would not even think of cleaning, certainly not without being told to clean. Probably would want to be paid or something… Yet, this little five year old girl…..
Our neighbor’s grandson has latched on to me… Similar situation… Dad is an OFW, and the kid lives in a house full of women, with no men around. He started coming over on the days I am in town working. I let him watch the cable TV in the aircon. Probably the stuff his mother won’t let him watch, like professional wrestling (American culture at its finest!). So, I just kind of let him sit downstairs watching while I am up in my office getting some work done. Once in a while, he’ll come up and say “Kuya John, why are you always up here working?” So, I reach into my wallet and pull out 100 Pesos. “Cedrick, do you know what supply and demand is?” “No, Kuya”. “Well, my supply of Diet Coke and Marlboros is running low, and I need some. How much is your labor worth to run to the sari sari and bring me some of each? Perhaps a Kit Kat?” ” Ok Kuya, I’ll be right back!” After he ate around seven Kit Kats that day, his mama was perplexed as to why he was bouncing around and not eating his supper. Needless to say, her and Rebecca ganged up on me, so I’m limited to giving him one Kit Kat per day (I don’t have kids, so I don’t know… I thought Chocolate was a food group!) I’ve recently been saving coins from my travels and helping him start a coin collection instead…few coins per trip. No negative feedback from that one! Yet….
Final story… I have two nieces in Florida. Now, these are two pretty good kids. They are not spoiled, per se, but I can tell you that at Christmas time, my mother’s house looks like a Toys R Us… I have never seen two kids get so much stuff. They are given every advantage in the world that is possible, and their schedules are kept in INDIVIDUAL DAY PLANNERS! What the hell???? That’s right… They each have a Blackberry! Contrast this to the Philippines… Rebecca went out to the ponds to check on the land clearing. She gathered up her nephew and about six other kids, made a picnic lunch (and they fished some prawns from the pond, too), and they went out for the day. She talked to the workmen, everyone ate lunch, and then she, the kids, and the workers, built a raft out of bamboo poles, tied it to a carabao, and went on boat rides all afternoon and had an absolute ball. No batteries, no plastic Chinese toys, no helmets, no safety gear, no nothin’…. Just imagination and having fun. I find it interesting that kids who have literally nothing, or perhaps one small toy, have a childhood of which I am almost envious. Quite frankly, even from poverty, kids are still able to be kids. It is also why I always tell Rebecca that though she didn’t grow up with a lot of money, she grew up with ambition and principles… Two things that money certainly cannot buy.
Hope this is interesting to all of you…