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What are Filipino Families Like?

Your wife shall be a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive vine
Around your table
-Psalm 128:3

The common belief is that every Filipino family is like every ordinary nuclear family around the globe. They do have a father, a mother, and their children. The Father is also called the “Haligi ng Tahanan” (“The Home’s Foundation”); and the Mother, “Ilaw ng Tahanan” (The Home’s Light”). Since divorce is not officially part of Philippine law or culture, the idea of marriage and nuclear family remains central. And in most cases the families do remain together and function as traditional nuclear families. The parents take care of the children, until later when the parents are older then the children take care of them.

In this model, every person in the family has a role. As the Bible verse would like to convey, the mother is the fruitful vine, and the children are like olive vines. A typical Filipino family would have a mother who stays at home and does all the household chores. Every mom would make it a point to be the light of the home that would raise their children to be imbued with values and to have fear of the Lord. She makes sure that their children will be contributing to their famliy and community. In that sense, the mother is the fruitful vine that bears fruits (children) that will be the community’s productive individuals.

The children on the other hand are olive vines. During Biblical times, olive vines were considered to be one of the most precious treasures of the land. Thus the comparison with children, the greatest blessings a family can have. They too are vines that crawl, grow, and someday bloom to be persons who are instilled with respect, love, and understanding. As a cherished vine, children are anticipated by the many to be of much great help to the community. Typical Filipino children are someone that the family can depend on; they do various household chores, they respect elders, they follow all norms, and they value education.

Nonetheless, a mother cannot grow into that fruitful vine that the world expects without the walls or foundations she can climb and crawl into. The children too cannot be the valuable gifts that they are, without the pillar that they can cling onto. This wall or foundation that the mother and children depend on is no other than the family’s rock – the father. The father serves as the family’s sturdy foundation, he is the family’s strongest rock, and he is the family’s toughest pillar that keeps the family stay together.

If you wish to build a Filipino family, you have to expect that a typical Filipino family has a father who works, a mother who stays at home, and children who goes to school. However, nowadays, there are already Filipino families wherein the wife chooses to work, too. The wife decides to work to feel self-fulfillment, or to help in the family’s financial needs. Though there are Filipinas who opt to find their careers outside home, it is still customary to many Filipino families to have mothers stay at home. This question is always something to consider when imagining a life together: What roles will each person have, and whether they share a vision of a family. Especially if it is a cross-cultural marriage, because then the basic assumptions of the Filipino family may not be shared.

While any Filipino family may not be exactly like a typical nuclear family in every last detail, there is another perspective that is always true for any Filipino family: they have huge extended families of cousins, second cousins, in-laws, and in-laws families, and these extended families extend all over the Philippines and all over the world. Ask any Filipino if they have family in any city, and there is a good chance they do. They can often even name them, and if traveling there, would be welcomed and given a royal treatment as a family member even if they have never met before.

With the advent of text messaging (the Philippines is proudly the text messaging capital of the world), email, and facebook, these extended family webs at times seem to be almost as important to a Filipino as his or her nuclear family, something unbelievable to anyone who has not yet experienced it.

If you do have the fortune to court a Filipina, we advise you: first, be most interested in the lady herself and speak with her directly about your dreams; second, recognize that she will most likely insist that you get to know her family which first means her parents and siblings and then cousins and so on. A good impression with the family truly is important for a Filipina, so dress well and be especially considerate when you meet her family. It bears repeating again in different words: ultimately, remember that it is the lady herself to whom you must devote the most attention and respect (without overdoing it); yet a good relationship with her parents and siblings will be vital for her to accept you. She will not want to get into a situation where there would be tension or conflict between you and her parents or siblings.

Someday you might be part of a huge web of a Filipino family. We hope you may be blessed with a partner and extended family who is right for you.

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By Christian Filipina staff

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