Their dad, a heavy equipment mechanic, moved from one mining company to another and then to the city of Manila, a crowded place so different from the paradise in the countryside, other islands. With 6 children in tow, he told each of them to take care of each other at an early age. There is no social services in the Philippines, no student loans and so the economy is driven by the migrant workers who send back their hard earned money to support the family.
In the Philippine Islands, it takes a ferry or a ship to move from one island to another. They finally settled in the second mining company north of the Philippines with no friends, but they easily made friends as their mother is so generous and friendly. The children have to walk 4 mountains to go to school, most of them in elementary school at the time. When heavy rains fell, they are met with mud and landslides. The 3 older children have to carry the younger ones on their back, barefoot, to get home in time before nightfall.
When they finally moved to the city of Manila, they found a small room in a squatter area where they use the same bedroom as their dining and living room. The two older sisters would go to the market and prepare lunch for the younger ones, a cooked squash and mung beans in a soup with one small piece of pork while their parents are at work, with their mother working as an embroidery maker and their father as a driver.
After high school, the eldest sister went to college and vowed to finish it even when she had to work during the day and study at night. At night, her parents would pick her up from the bus stop to walk her home since at that place many women can be taken by force and be made a wife at an early age.
She finished college and worked for Intel until she had an opportunity to work in Taiwan. After 4 yrs, she was able to move to the USA where her distant uncle in the USA petitioned her with a working permit. All those years, from the time she worked at 19 yrs of age, she had given her paycheck to her parents to help with the family and so she did, one of her sisters became a computer engineer, who also helped one niece by supporting her nursing college education and now a nurse.
The third sister migrated to Australia while the second sister stayed in the Philippines, became a realtor and supported the 3 remaining brothers and their families. The 3 brothers worked odd jobs and also assisted the second sister in her real estate development work and sales. By 2012, there are 12 grandchildren who went to private elementary schools and high schools. Their mother who migrated to the USA in 2000 had given all her paycheck to support the family in the Philippines. The father died of lung cancer in 2001 in the Philippines after working for only 6 months in the USA.
The two younger brothers suffered a heart attack in 2012 while the older brother has a mental handicap but worked as a chef, driver and cook. Now, the second sister had a heart attack, the year was 2013. In the hospital bed, one brother massaged her with garlic while the second brother arrived later and massaged her with ginger soaked in oil and came back with lemonade with garlic. The bed-ridden sister felt a calm and relief and a sense of happiness seeing how she was loved by her brothers.
While the 2 other sisters, one in the USA and Australia, gathered all the money they can find to send back to the Philippines to help pay for the medical expenses of their hospitalized sister. In the Philippines, one has to pay for some medical bills in a public hospital and more money in a private hospital.
Connie’s comment: She was the older sister in the story and is currently praying for the health of her sister in the Philippines. She lives with her mother in the USA. This story is written for her children, nieces and nephews to be living proof of how sisters and brothers should love each other.