Thursday, April 12, 2007

.. Famularum Famularumque Tuarum...

I never understood why people liked 'The OC'; it is pure, unadulterated tripe that deals with the usual staple of angsty kids, nerdy kids, rich kids, and their hilarioulsy sexed parents. 'This is so like our lives!' I even heard a friend say. Okay. Nevermind that she is far from Anglo as possible and comes from a family of five children, an atonishingly scandalous thing in the upper middle-class microcosm that is the Orange County. I also have a friend who is enthused at the idea of 'scheduled dinners with the family' and black tie parties that are often shown in that program-- it makes everything so much more 'organized', he says-- and of course, he is only 16. I just have to let out drunken guffaw whenever I hear my fellow countrymen rave about that show. It's not like Filipinos are even white!

The typical Filipino family consists of a father, his wife, their children, one of whom is usually a black sheep, the father's mistress or mistresses, and the black sheep's 'live in partner'. You might ask, just how different is this from what is shown in The O.C.? The difference lies in the fact that the families in that show are families onl in the sense that they share a common surname. They never fight. They always look good. They don't seem to have any problems at all, and if they do, they almost never talk about it openly.

My own family is small, although we love each other. I know that this love is genuine because we almost always take each other for granted, in fact, my brother and I, back when I was still in high school, exchanged only the complimentary hellos, and almost nothing else whenever we passed each other. Isn't this a major sign of dysfunction, though? For me, nothing says unhappy, dysfucntional and filthy rich family than one that has to schedule quality time together, or one where everyone seems so friendly. At least we have the guts to tackle our problems head on.

When I fight with my parents, both sides make sure it is as melodramatic as possible and I always make sure to utter the most guttural heavy metal death grunts I can. My parents in turn would call me all sorts of names, maybe my dad would even throw a vase at me or something. To me, a loving family is called 'loving' precisely because its members love each other in spite of and because of their defects. I hate it when my mom nags me, I hate it when my dad reprimands me, I hate it when my younger siblings would not do as I want. But I love them, not because my status in the community would be damaged if I did not, or because it would ruin my thousand dollar botox. I love my family because they are part of my life, a natural extension of it. Admittedly, it's hard to do so at times, but then again, I've always taken my thumb for granted, and without it, my hand would be useless.

It's the same thing with the Church. One of the biggest problems with our Church today is the loss of this family identity. Traditionalists who love the Church most are, ironically, ostracized from this very institution that they loved most. In the process, they start a new family that is very bitter to the parent family. Vatican II goofballs want so much to identify with the younger crowd that they have thrown away every trace of authority and respect that they have; and make no mistake, it has as much visual impact as your grandmother suddenly dressing up in fishnets and a red, lacy thong while gyrating to he macarena. Que horror!

Someone once told me that the greatest sin a family can commit is to imagine themselves as something straight out of a toothpaste ad, replete with the staple pearly white teeth and all immaculately clothed in high end beach wear (preferably on a picnic mat with flowers and perfectly packed sandwiches). It is simply folly. Real families have overweight, overbearing mothers, balding fathers with large guts, dumb elder brothers, nerdy younger brothers, slutty sisters, maybe even a mangy dog or two. But we love them just the same and perhaps even more because these same imperfections are what make them so perfect. At the end of the day, mom still makes the best baked chicken in town, dad still gives us more allowance than what we need for the week, and your siblings, no matter how much they may annoy you, can still melt your stonecold heart with a simple 'kuya'. You may live in the biggest house in the world, but if it is not cozy, it will never be home. It is a hearth without a fire, a library without books, a body without a soul.

I am reminded of a certain relative who had an almost unnatural, inhuman penchant for eating barbecue without so much as making a mess; but as admirable as this ability is, barbecue is supposed to be eaten messily, because this is exactly where its barbecue-ness comes from.

No comments: