In the first part of this blog, we looked at some of the obligations that Filipino families have towards each other. When us expat foreigners get thrust into the mix and these obligations suddenly transfer over, it can make for a lot of stress and misunderstandings. Equality is great and everything, but when families seek to level the financial playing field by forcing flood-down (as opposed to “trickle down”) economics, it can leave the involved foreigners with death grips on their wallets (and their ulcerated stomachs).
To put the topic into perspective, let’s take a look at the financial dynamics that have been going on in Michell’s family. Her parents (who live on another island) were typical Filipinos. They worked hard to raise their kids, making the requisite sacrifices as time went on to make sure that they were well adjusted and well educated. All six of the children were sent to college. This was funded through the fish farm that they owned, and for many years, the fish farm provided for all of the family’s needs. But as businesses sometimes go, the fish farm fell on hard times about four years ago, due to a variety of reasons that Michell details in the video. Now, at the time, the only one working was Michell’s younger sister, Maricar. She had a degree in accounting and was working online for a company located in the United States. The other children were married and providing for their own families, and since she was single, the responsibility to help fell to her. With the fish farm floundering, she stepped up and started contributing her salary to the family’s needs. One of those needs was Michell’s continuing tuition, which she paid for. She didn’t whine or kvetch about the situation – there was simply a need in the family and she did her part. Then, a while back, their brother lost his scholarship to maritime academy (he’s studying engineering), and she found herself having to help him as well. Well, after a while, Michell was able to get a job, so the two sisters talked and now they are both paying for his school and living allowances until he graduates in October. And so it goes.
Michell’s parents made good decisions by sending their kids to college. There’s no doubt about that. Not only did it give them the foundation for solid employment opportunities, but it also ensured that the kids would be financially capable of taking care of them when they are old and in ill health – cuz like we noted, there are no antiseptic nursing homes to ship the folks off to once they are out of sorts. So, in a way, investing in your kids is like investing in your own future.
I am still up in the air about having kids at my advanced age. It’s a huge life changer, and my biggest concern is that I will be able to provide for them the same way my own parents provided for me. But I gotta tell you, it would be nice to raise some good kids knowing that in the future, they would be the ones around me when I passed on to the next world. Kinda gives you that warm fuzzy feeling….
Di ba? (Right?)
Anyways, I hope that example gives some perspective to the situation. I still haven’t experienced the true blunt force of this, and I hope it’s not something that I will have to deal with too much in the future. If it happens, it happens. I will just make sure (to the best of my ability), that these situations are effectively communicated and the boundaries are made as secure as possible.
But – as one reader noted – such things are sometimes easier said than done.