Living beyond the 7,107 islands means immersing ourselves to a totally different language, culture, and a set of traditions. Despite the fact that we choose to live miles away from our country because of different reasons, this doesn’t give us an excuse not to practice and teach the younger ones our distinct values that have been handed down to us by our ancestors. The responsibility to carry forth those practices lie in our hands to cradle it with utmost care and pass it on to our fellow Filipinos – whether they’re part of our family or not.
With the proliferation of raising children abroad, it’s important to still teach and preserve our values and traditions to ensure that your children don’t turn into foreigners of our own country. Though some parents opt to let their children adapt the orientation of the foreign land they live in, it’s advisable to make them practice the values that set them apart from other nationalities.
1. Respect for elders
As a country that gives importance to hierarchy whether in the family or society, children must acknowledge the fact that they need to display humility and give respect to the elderly. There are two practices that represent this act.
First, pagmamano. The gesture of taking the right hand of an elder and striking it to the young’s forehead is a clear sign of the latter’s respect and humility. This is reciprocated by the elder’s acknowledgment and blessing of the child. Since there are only few families abroad who live with older members, this act is seldom practiced. More often than not, this act is replaced by giving older people a kiss on the cheek. While this is inevitable due to the changes brought about by different environments, it’s still important to teach and encourage young children to practice it especially when returning home either for good or vacation.
Next is adding “po” and “opo” to their vocabulary. Some parents want their children to grow up using the English language as their key medium of communication. Obviously, there’s no direct translation of the two words that can express their additional respect to older people. If you insist on raising them to be solely English speaking, you can still encourage them to insert the words during conversations when appropriate. Making them practice these two ways of demonstrating respect gives a positive reflection in the way you choose to raise your children.
2. Family solidarity
We Filipinos don’t follow course of actions that encourage children above 18 years old to live on their own or send our old family members to care homes. This shows how much we value close kinship even to our second degree family members. This is a practice that we can actually be proud of. We’re very hands on with our families, enabling us to grow together and not miss any milestone of our parents, siblings, and sometimes even cousins. The strong bond that we develop with each other allows us to have a very strong support system during victories and failures. Even small weekend gatherings are a staple in every Filipino home. No occasion is necessary, just a simple potluck and a couple of stories here and there are the key ingredients of a happy Filipino home. So, let your children experience this even if they’re miles away from the Philippines. A simple Sunday get-together with all your relatives abroad can help form close ties with them. Even if they’re not physically together, the modern technology nowadays allows every family member to view each other through various platforms such as Facebook, Viber, and Skype. This paves way for each one not to be strangers to one another.
3. The act of “bayanihan”
Whenever I hear this word, I always imagine a group of people carrying the traditional “bahay kubo” on their shoulders. Actually, that’s still the concept behind the word. Gone are the days when Filipinos need to carry houses, so how can we teach young Filipinos about this value? Instead of carrying houses to help neighbors, we must teach them to help our fellow nationals in times of need. Whenever calamities strike the country, we can always show and encourage children to help the needy by donating old clothes and things to the victims. Also, supporting different programs that can help those who are in need is a modern way of expressing bayanihan especially outside the country.
Let the Filipino values run in the veins of your children. Let’s all preserve these values that mark us as true citizens who refuse to forget our homeland despite the oceans and hills that are in between.