Sinigang Sinigang For The Soul

Our Youngest Sister is Going to College! Here’s Looking at You Kid!!
comment 12 Comments September 12, 2008 – 2:17 am
popping..

I can’t talk about my sister without having to give you sort of a background about my family. This is kind of a personal post so bear with me as I reflect on this part of my life.

I come from a family of four siblings- all girls. I was a middle child for 16 years until our youngest, Inah came along. The four of us, we are bonded like glue! We stick together as sisters and bond together like best friends do. Separately, we each share a special relationship with one another.

I have a huge respect and deep affection for my eldest sister who is 3 years older than me. She is an amazing woman! I find solace and comfort when I’m around my third sister, like being in the presence of greatness. She’s 4 years younger but I seek her wisdom and value her opinion like she’s the adult. She’s one of the very few real people I admire the most!

My bonding with my youngest sister is quite extraordinary. The fact that she was a ‘menopausal baby’ and my mom’s OB warned us of certain risks that went with conceiving one, made her very special to us from day one. I was in first year college. The first time the family laid eyes on her at the nursery, we were smitten! (She had to be left behind the hospital for a week for observation while my mom was discharged 3 days later I recall.) I voluntarily and wholeheartedly took care of her since then. I along with my two sis practically stole took Inah away from our mom!

The three of us were studying and living in Davao City, Philippines while our parents stayed in our hometown, General Santos (GenSan)- a six-hour round trip drive! My mom delivered Inah in Davao and she and my dad stayed with us for a few months. When it was time for them to leave, we begged and begged to have Inah stay with us, with the promise that we would visit GenSan every week so they could see her! We were using every tactic and angle and justification why we should take care of our little angel! It worked because my mom and dad with a heavy heart, agreed.

So goes our journey being three ‘responsible’ teenagers and a baby!!

We would literally rush home every chance we get, and I for one cut the most classes just so I could spend more alone time with her than my two other sisters! I was the one to spoil her the most too! Our whole world revolved around her! We carry her wherever we went! Inah was in every single one of our school outings and activities. Our batchmates could attest to it. Our classmates know her and at some point played ‘nanny’ to her! They all saw how she grew up! This set-up went on my entire college years! Inah even started her Nursery schooling in Davao! But she was like in GenSan this week, Davao the next or my parents would stay with us every few weeks or so. When our parents don’t bring her back for a week, we would all go to GenSan to pick her up and reprimand our mom! Haha!

Fast track to today

She is turning 18 soon! (And I’m getting old!!) Inah is such a special kid, a very well-rounded person. Beautiful inside and out although you surely don’t want to see her rebellious, “angry at the world” side! Unfortunately, I am such a huge influence in her life that even my nasty, dark side– she seem to have adopted so effortlessly to my horror and reproach! I would often defend her when my mom calls me to complain about her ‘unbecoming’ behavior as she would put it. She has threatened to send Inah back to the Philippines numerous times but we all knew,  my mom knew in her heart- she couldn’t do that.

I tirelessly say consider herself still lucky under the circumstances! I’d say majority of teenagers in America today are arrogant, selfish, narcissistic, ruthless, no respect for authority, no sensibility and no moral values at all! They all have it easy and they’re all spoiled rotten! It’s a scary thought that these very kids are the ones whose going to lead America in the next decade or so.

In contrast, Inah’s stubbornness to speak her mind and opinion to which my mom construes as disrespectful is my mom’s only baggage! She doesn’t have to deal with a daughter who has slept with the entire football team, or a teenager who is too young to drink and smoke yet come home drunk and wasted every night. She doesn’t have to worry that she has a teenage daughter drinking and driving! She doesn’t have to deal with blasting music in Inah’s room, having friends over and vandalize the entire house, being part of a gang, tattoos, piercings, drugs, untimely pregnancy, alcohol and whatever else! She won’t have to worry that her teenager could just one day go home and decide for himself that he’s dropping out of high school because it’s not fun anymore(!) or a Senior kid having to say, she’s not going to college period. She doesn’t have to deal with a kid who doesn’t have a plan, whose greatest ambition is to work in a video store as clerk so he could watch all the movies he want, or become a crew at a fast food chain and live with the parents as a bum until the age of 40!

My sister is a consistent honor student since grade school, active in both extra curricular and academic activities. She immigrated to the US in October 2005 to be with my mom. She was entering second year in High School in America and from the very beginning impressed her school with the way she carried herself; how she bested other students in the academics and her command of the English language. (Just goes to show that the good schools in the Philippines are as competitive and as topnotch if not even better than some of America’s schools! We can blow them away!!).

She received a nomination to become one of the Ambassadors of People to People Program last year which we rallied for help that eventually led her to visit Australia for 20 days! She was a member of Link Crew, a coveted highly successful program in place in high schools all over the U.S. “The program operates by organizing a group of selected campus leaders–seniors and juniors–who act as mentors and positive role models for freshmen students.” She graduated with honors in her Senior year (Look for Encarnado on the list). Outside school, she is a Catechist teaching grade school kids, Religion. She is an officer in a Youth group and a member in the Sinag-tala theater and performing arts group in Sacramento, CA.

Not once did we pressure or push her to excel at any given point since she started schooling.  She did it on her own making it a sweeter feat. What more can you ask for to a teenager?!

Going to College

My sister has a plan. A big one in fact. She wants to be a doctor saving lives in pediatrics. When I first heard her say it, I virtually saw dollar signs at the top of my head and I thought the room was spinning around me. I needed Excedrin. But I didn’t say anything and in fact exclaimed my joy!

The entire family agreed, she should go to college. Is that even questioned right? You may be surprised. Going to college is such a big deal here and even just to graduate High School is in itself a BIG accomplishment because many kids opt to drop out of HS for various reasons and still a good number won’t even go to College. In the US, kids rule especially when they reach 18. They are no longer yours but they become their own persons- YET would still want your wallet most of the time! Here, the common question among Senior students is, “are you going to college?” In the Philippines, it is not a matter of question. Rich or poor, one MUST go to college, by hook or by crook and the Seniors there would ask each other, “which college are you going to?” or “what course are you taking up in college?”

Our ‘Calvary’ is yet to begin as we are grimly looking at a fifteen thousand US dollars (PHP700,000) per year expense for my sister’s education over the next 8-10 years!!!! Add a couple of thousand dollars there per year for inflation and multiply to 10 years, that’s what we are looking at in this very huge, great expensive dream! An expense which we as a family will be seeing at in loans and debts long after she has graduated…

On a different note, Inah is taller than me now, has uncanny fashion sense- a trendsetter. She knows about beauty and fashion more than I have ever had. She has ‘tools’ she uses for her face I’ve never seen! She’s starting to drive around town on her own(!) and she has a (decent!) boyfriend!! She’s going to live in a dormitory in Los Angeles, 7-hours away from where our mom is this school year! She is growing, I tell you. And I’m just getting old… Sigh.

But she will always be my Inah Banana. Our Inah-bans, endearing names we call her as a child. I think of her and I only see a cutesy little girl singing and dancing for us! I think about how she would grab my legs for attention. How “clingy” she was and wouldn’t walk because she just wants to be carried and held! I think about how she looks admiringly at each of us, her family with utter amazement and adoration! I think about her tiny loving arms wrapped around me as she whispers “I love you Ate Meemai.” Sometimes I wish I could just freeze moments of her childhood and unfreeze when I want and freeze it again!

We can never foretell what’s ahead but she has a goal she has set for herself and that’s enough for us her family to become believers of her. She has never let us down before there is no reason not to support her. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that she will reach that dream and we will be there when it happens… hopefully still standing to enjoy it all.

Here’s looking at You kid!!

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