Grandparents, hail!-A A +A
Saturday, October 5, 2013
LAST September 8 was Grandparents’ Day, a quiet celebration of seniors special to grandchildren, especially in this country. But this connection is lost in children growing up or born in a Western culture.
A friend once visited a married daughter of his in the US and got to meet his grandson for the first time. The man saw the difference in the nurture of children back home in the Philippines as against their upbringing in American living.
One day during the man’s short vacation in the US, he chastised the boy for lack of good manners, calling his parents and the elderly by their first names, not lolo or grandpa, ma or pa. When he corrected the boy, the young one reacted with a sharp look. In return, the grandpa slapped the boy’s buttocks, hoping to be taken seriously. In a short while, an emergency group appeared at the gate, looking for someone who called up 911 to help a boy who was maltreated by his grandfather.
Filipino grandparents are more connected with grandchildren.
Grandma was a strong woman, for one. To my eyes, she was. Some relatives would recall how she acted as "engineer" in fixing the family 's house because her husband was too busy in his work as pre-war bookkeeper in a business firm at the Cebu port in the early ‘40s. Grandma was like the constructor, rushing from one room to the other, even climbing a bit closer up the roof, to check on the work.
In the ‘50s, she'd wake up early during Election Day to be able to vote properly and came back home to wake the other voters up in the family, urging them to go to the polls quickly and vote for the candidate whom she chose.
Years after, in her senior years, Grandma would watch television with me and hold my hand for conversation as she'd point at the face on the screen of a lovely model in an advertisement "That's my daughter," she'd say with a smile. She didn't say whether I was her daughter, too, or her granddaughter. But she was polite as she spoke, as though to a kind stranger.
Some weeks ago was Grandparents’ Day, a salute mostly to senior citizens and their place in our society. Did we stop to get a feel of the special day and color the day red, or did we miss it?
The close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren in the Philippines isn't the same as in the US where in 1973 a State first officially observed to give families time to visit grandparents who usually live alone in quiet and cold abodes in faraway communities or in senior homes in the big, noisy cities.
A grandchild learns much from his grandparents, especially Grandma. The child is usually left behind in the house with the retired close relative, and just the two of them in the house while the parents go out to work. Through the hours in a day, both personalities grow close together in such condition—time for valuable lessons from a loved one. And these stick in the heart of the young ones, wrapped in love and care.
In the Philippine culture, the relationship between the young and the old in the family is celebrated every day in a close relatedness, the grandparents living with one of the children or with relatives. Yes, it's also a life marked with a fuss here, a spat there. But care prevails.
You and I have stories of the children’s relationship with grandparents, a show of cultural strength.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is like a story you can't forget. Just recently, a touching advertisement of a grandma and a grandchild singing, "Downtown" tells the story of the deep connection between the two which in our culture makes life in the senior years still livable.
In our culture, grandparents are home and safe, even as the grandchildren are safe with them. There’s love, but not just love. The elder's story connects the children to the family heritage the way grandparents talk about the clan as a personal history.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 06, 2013.