The Treasures of a Filipino Family
Money can’t buy the joy and happiness this family shared! Such a culture of caring can transform any family.
When I accepted the invitation to their homes for a Saturday night barbecue, little did I anticipate walking away so deeply impressed with a life lesson that I’d be writing about it 15 years later.
Their homes—three modest dwellings on a small lot separated only by a common courtyard into which some 20 or so of us were crowded—housed a growing clan spanning three generations.
The barbecue on this warm evening in the Philippines consisted of bite-size chicken pieces on bamboo skewers, slow cooked over scattered coals in an aluminum pan, not on a big gas grill like I was used to. But with rice, vegetables and fresh fruit for dessert, the meal proved more than satisfying and undoubtedly healthier than I was used to!
As the eating slowed, the excitement grew as one of the youngsters rolled out a big black box and began connecting various wires. Seeing my curiosity, the grandfather began describing a family tradition. “We don’t have much money for entertainment,” he explained. “We could never afford the luxury of going to a movie. But a few years ago we all decided we could save for this karaoke machine and enjoy singing together.”
And enjoy it we did, as they did nearly every Saturday night. As usual, Grandpa started it, crooning his favorite Frank Sinatra love song while bouncing a little grandchild on each knee. From then on—for the next three hours!—we sang and laughed with gusto. There were solo performers, husband-and-wife teams, lively little kids, shy big kids, duets, trios and occasionally everyone spontaneously joined in.
Like on an “oldies” radio station, the hits just kept on coming. Who cared that no one had a great voice? What we had was fun!
Being wealthy without money
Later that night in the quiet of my hotel, I realized what was so impressive about that evening. And a couple of weeks later, back home in the United States, I urged the congregation I pastored to ponder a universal truth. This story wasn’t really about a sing-along, but about a law of life at work:
It doesn’t matter how little money you have, if you do the right things, you will be rich—rich in the things of life that really make you happy.
A close-knit, loving family has to rank near the top of the list of life’s greatest treasures.
Here was a family that had little money, but overflowed with love, affection, contentment and happiness. No matter their ages, they all obviously enjoyed one another. And they didn’t keep it for themselves. Anyone they invited (as they often did) to join their cookout and karaoke quickly found themselves drawn into that atmosphere.
I’ve known people who would give all of their physical wealth to have what these folks had.
A culture of caring
Such family bonds don’t happen accidentally. This family was blessed to have a patriarch and matriarch who understood the most important laws of life and who had the wisdom to live by them and instill them in the next generations. What I was seeing in their karaoke party was really a culture of caring. It was a microcosm of their family’s way of life—spending time, working, communicating, playing, facing challenges, solving problems, surviving … together.
In this issue we’re spotlighting the importance of family, and I hope it helps you to gain the type of wealth this Filipino family had amassed. It’s one of life’s greatest treasures and so worth working for!