Find your tribe, love them hard.
It’s not what we have in life but who we have in our life that matters, family.
For some weeks now, I have been excited about my cousin from New Zealand, @colormepeach who was coming home to the Philippines. I’ve set up lunch dates with the other cousins we have. Started to help with her son’s 4th birthday celebration and made sure we didn’t miss anyone on the list. The wait was finally done as over the weekend along with the heavy rains, her family along with her mother in law arrived in Manila for their 3 week vacation. It wasn’t the most welcoming weather but so far, the warmth of the people around them made them feel instantly at home.
It was a 2 hour drive to get to the hotel where they were staying at. I remember days prior to meeting them, I’ve told stories about her to John. How she’s gone through life, losing a father at a very young age, moving from one aunt’s house to another and eventually becoming successful in life.
On our way to meet them, we passed by a mother who was carrying her son’s school bag. Just recently, we bought a school bag for Kiero, one with a hefty price. We thought it was ok to spend a little more so that he can use it for the next few years. Upon seeing the mother, John, out of nowhere said, “I wonder if Kiero grows up to have his own life strategy…” I said, "maybe so". He’s my son, of course I believed that. He then started recalling his life growing up.
In one of my entries, I wrote about how her mother who is working in Paris got diagnosed and became a cancer survivor. It is one of his life’s memories that he always had a hard time talking about.
“Naalala ko lang dati, walang wala talaga kami. Dinidiskartehan ko yun mga classmate ko para may pangkain ako sa school kasi wala talaga akong pang baon. Yun yung time na may sakit na si mama,” (I remember back then when we didn’t have anything. I’d trick my classmates just so I can have lunch money. That was when my mother was already sick) he continued. I knew in a matter of time, tears will come by. “Bago umalis si Mama pa Paris, hindi naman talaga kami yun nakakaluwag talaga. Mas lalong mahirap nun nagkasakit sha.” (Before Mama left for Paris to work, we weren’t well off. It became even harder when she got sick)
He remembers trading homeworks for used bags from his classmates, just so he can have something to use. Doing favors for friends for a few coins he can have snacks with. And budgeting 6000 pesos for all their household expenses. He said that amount came from her aunt who willingly helped them during rough times. Another aunt loaned him and his sisters some that can pay off their schooling. He went on and on with tears rolling down his cheeks.
I can only imagine what it was like. It must have been hard. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon either but at least both my parents worked hard to give us what we needed. I told him it was my darkest hours too when my mother got sick and passed on but it was nothing compared to when they didn’t have anything. Me and my siblings were already done with school when she got sick. We got taken care before she needed our care.
In his and my cousin’s story, the common thing was having a family who never turned their backs. A family who decided to take over the role of being a provider even when it was no longer part of their obligation being a relative. For some people, it is not hard to ignore when another person is suffering. Yet, there are still those who chose to help even when they also have not much to offer.
As we took a group picture after lunch yesterday, I overheard my cousin’s mother in law say, “Oh, what a huge family…” I wanted to say, she hasn’t seen half of it. Our family is indeed huge! But, there are those who decided to no longer be part of it for reasons only they understand. Still, our doors are always open.
Truly, we can’t choose our blood, but we can choose those who run importance in our lives. Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering how it was when me and @colormepeach saw each other? Let's just say some people from the casino and nearby restaurants turned their heads upon hearing our girly shrieks. Yeah, that meeting was 8 years in the making!
Our kids meeting each other for the first time.
Thanks for reading!