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Party of Sixteen

How does it feel like to be a part of a relatively big family? I was born penultimately hence the past stories had been told by people who witnessed themselves how it was like to see for themselves a family of sixteen with one set of parents.

We occupied two pews whenever we would attend mass. We were well-behaved but always a little bit late which people did not mind because preparing the little ones for church was a daunting or even a monumental task.

I do not have memories of those understandably however people found it incredible to say the least because having just one child is in itself a daunting and monumental task.

I have ten brothers and three sisters. One friend of mine told me once that having them and at the same time being blessed with friends of the same blood. I remember one time my older brother asked permission to see a movie with his friends and my brother was told by my mother why not take along your younger siblings with you. From then on spending time with my siblings became the standard. At a young age, I became comfortable with that and being one of the two youngest after Sunday mass, I got a free complimentary balloon with helium that my father would tie around my wrist because back then all balloons could fly away. For the most part I was the invisible one because to be blunt it could get loud and chaotic. Now with the entire family having quadrupled, during reunions it feels like a convention. To make it simple, having a big family can be summed up in one word which is fun.

I think everyone can relate how it is truly like when you attend your own extended family’s reunion during reunions on special holidays. Just think of that and then try to imagine that single day spanning a year.

No wonder my mother received an award for her heroic pursuits.

I do not want to waste your time so I highly recommend for you to watch the movie Cheaper by the Dozen. Almost exactly the same thing.

What I can share with you is a real story that I witnessed myself. One fine day, I was going down the staircase and I heard two young college level guests talking to each other. They saw the wall that my mother presented the diplomas and college photos of all of us.

One said to the other… take a look at them they all finished school, all fourteen of them, while there would be parents complaining raising just one child.

On that single moment, I, finally, realized why my mother did what she had done. She wanted to inspire other families that there is faith, hope, and love.

When I was young I did not get it and I was even shy about it.

We are far from being a perfect family. No one family is ever perfect. We do have misgivings and shortcomings. A roller coaster ride, the ups, and the downs. We may lose material possessions but we always know that we can always count on each other. We are family. More than that we are a team.

While growing up even before autocorrect whenever I would speak a mispronounced word I would get a correction. A misconduct then I would be disciplined. When I was out of line I would be shown the proper procedure. And allow me to end the party with the sublime Filipino phrase:

“Ang batang lumaki sa mga pangaral ay tatanda ng marangal.”

To say that in English would be:

“A child well-disciplined will be an epitome of dignity in the future.”

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