Pinoys are religious people. My mother and father are devout Catholics they took the commandment of papa Jesus ‘to go forth and multiply’ seriously and created a ‘super big family’. With our number, we’re more than a family, we’re more like a tribu timbuktu. We are seventeen siblings in all and in cases of newly-discovered ‘kapatid sa labas’, we’re still counting. Papa Manolo already had six children when he met my mom, who also had five children from two fathers that time. They lived together and decided to add four more – me, the twin and the youngest.
We lived in a bahay kubo. To have things organized, every pair had their own room, imagine a bahay kubo appended with a room, and another room and another room, it’s a compartmentalized train house.
Four of my siblings in the motherside are half-Chinese and the other one is half-Irish (his father’s side are proud successors of the Bracken clan of which Josephine Bracken is related). My siblings in the father side have Indon roots. I am full blood Filipino but my eyes look like a slit, which makes me look more like a Vietcong. The twins have long eye lashes, hairy manes and tiny hairs in the arms which are Spanish features. That leaves our youngest sister to be the only true blue Pinoy – raven curly hairs, petite size and brown complexion. Hell no, she’s no brown. She’s dark, very very dark. Okay, she’s Ita. But she’s the beloved exotic sibling in the family. Though we’re worried she’s so dark, nobody would marry her. Hahaha!
When it’s time for all of us to eat, we don’t look like a family. We look like random people in the United Nations having a lunch meeting. But despite the kookiness of my family structure, we have grown to love and be at each other’s side. There are occasions when one would threaten the other with a smoking hot flat iron or pull each other’s hairs in the banyo (I was a kid and I was enjoying watching them like watching TNA Explosion or Wrestling Mania). But of course, those were isolated occasions. Any mention of ‘half-blood’ or step-something in the family is forbidden, else you get kooky exercises like lifting hard bound books in open arms while kneeling on green mungo.
My siblings on both sides are smart. In elementary and high school, they would sweep all the first and second honors and mom could not be more than proud to be always coming back the stage. Only ate Leticia is the unfortunate ‘family goat’. She blames being breastfed by the neighbor for not being as smart as the others. The other siblings would assure her it’s okay, at least she gets the ‘Most Behaved’ ribbon (she’s silent all through out the class recitation) or ‘Girl Scout of the Year’ (well, because mom donated pad locks to the school).
I was in grade school when I learned about a boy with the same name as mine and we’re both Jr. Yeah, what do you expect, father was again a generous donor of his sperm to another woman, and he just named the boy in my honor. So now I have a clone, he’s now a nurse by the way. We never got mad, we’d gotten used to it. And for the final count of 17, father and mother adopted a boy in the kindergarten. I thought father bought him so I have a toy, I kinda get used of smacking his head when I’m happy. Maybe the reason why he ran away. Bro, if you happen to be reading this, go home. We miss you. I won’t play Russian roulette with you anymore… Pramis.