Sunday Lifestyle

Family values

MANO-A-MANO - Adel Tamano - The Philippine Star

When I was asked by Jollibee to be one of the judges in the Second Jollibee Family Values Awards (JFVA), I didn’t hesitate. I knew it would take some of my time and attention but I knew it was worth it. It wasn’t only because of the prestige associated with doing work for one of the Philippines’ most respected companies but, more importantly, since I believe that in the modern age the Filipino family faces threat and dangers constantly, consequently, a conversation on the importance of Filipino family values was not only valuable but necessary.

One or two generations ago, at least on the surface, keeping our families intact seemed a much simpler matter. These were the days before a large number of Filipinos had to leave their homeland to work abroad, when the society was still more conservative (this has both good and bad aspects, of course), the religious sector held far more societal sway, so-called “broken families” were more the exception than the rule, and the Internet and social media were still stuff of science fiction. While our parents’ social and historical context may have had its negative elements — close-mindedness, homophobia, bias, etc. — nevertheless, much of society seemed to be pushing families to stay together. For good or ill, there was still a stigma associated with a so-called “broken” family. This was society’s way of pressuring families to stick together and work out their problems. And keeping families whole is always a good thing.

However, in our present age, it might seem that the opposite is true — that the way our society is evolving, marriage and having a solid family appears to have a much lower rank in the scale of values as compared to economic success and individual development. Since personal happiness is given supreme value in the modern age, the value of family, which is a social rather than an individual unit, is downplayed.

In fact, one of the things we discussed at the launch of the Second Jollibee Family Values Awards early this month was the effect of digital technology on the family. And of course while there were many upsides to the Internet and social media, particularly the ease of obtaining and broadness of information available on the net, there were also many dangers. Online pornography, cyber-bullying, and cyber-stalking are some of the dangers that our children face in our modern information age that we never had to deal with growing up. The consensus of the participants at the launch, such as Audrey Tan-Zubiri, mother and entrepreneur, Maribel Sioson-Dionisio, a marriage and family counselor, and Albert Caudrante, Jollibee VP for Marketing, was that families now have to become more involved in the lives of their children and guide them as they experience the Internet and social media.

And what are the important family values? Actually, personally it isn’t so much any specific values or characteristics that a family or its members should have, because values — such as honesty, empathy, kindness, integrity, etc. — are important in all contexts and not merely in the family. Meaning we should be kind within our family as we should be outside of it. So it isn’t the individual value per se that is important but rather the importance — or the value — that should be given to the family. In other words, valuing the family unit itself is vital. When we give importance and primacy to our family, then other values, such as honesty, faithfulness, integrity, kindness, etc., are naturally engendered. Stated somewhat differently, happy and whole families tend to produce the very best kinds of people.

On another point, I believe that we fathers have a great role to play in building the family. Simply, it is very easy for a man to have a child but very difficult for a man to become a true father. Given the complexity of modern life, we fathers have to take a greater and more active role in the family. Growing up, my father, as was the norm at the time, was somewhat distant and not the so-called “hands-on” dad that we see many today being. But times were different then and many women chose to be homemakers and so when the father arrived home, tired from work, he wasn’t expected to help around the house, assist with the kid’s schoolwork, or lend a hand in the child-rearing duties. But when, as in my case, both spouses work, it becomes imperative for me as a father to have more quality time with my children since in the past there was at least one parent who had a lot of interaction with their kids. Thus, being a distant dad doesn’t cut it any more.

Finally, the value of family can never be — and should never be — underestimated. It is in the family where we best learn the values such as kindness, goodness, integrity, patience and empathy. These are the basic values that a person should have in order to become a productive citizen. Accordingly, by destroying or undermining the family, we undercut the development of our citizens, which ultimately weaken our country. As corny an idea as it may seem to the jaded or cynical among us, I believe that a country’s true strength is found in the strength of our families. Put another way, strong families make for a strong nation.










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