It takes a village
FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras (The Freeman) - December 28, 2015 - 9:00am

Recently I was in a family social event, and I was asked to say a few words to all the relatives and friends in attendance. I felt it was just the right occasion to talk about a topic I have always wanted to discuss about what influences our lives and get us to where we are and what we have become. The following article is the cleaned up and slightly expanded version of the speech I made that night.

Family, relatives and friends I want to thank all of you for taking the time to attend this occasion tonight. I know these are busy times for all of us, with the coming Christmas and New Year, and some of you coming from very far places here in the Philippines and abroad. There is however a bigger "thank you" and appreciation that I would like to express not just to all of you present here tonight but to all our families, relatives, and friends whoever and wherever they are, that have touch our lives .

There is an African adage or saying, Kenya claims it but I believe it is from all of Africa, that "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child." Africa was and still is a predominantly agricultural economy, so all the families, relatives and friends live within the village. Those of you who were raised in the towns, like I was, can relate to this situation, and will readily accept that the responsibility of child-raising is shared with the larger family; with the older children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, and friends. I stayed in Danao in all my elementary years and I knew all our relatives in the town. I had friends more than five blocks from where we live and played with all of them. I knew who were the town criminals and the bad guys that you avoid, I knew the town priest and his coterie of pious ladies, I knew the husband and wife who were always fighting, I knew the husband who lost his job, the families who were struggling economically. I knew the town clown and the town fool, and the politicians. I even knew the women with loose morals. And these were when I was 11-years old.  The point is that all of us are really the product of all the interactions with all the people we have met and interacted, and we become the person we are, because of these interactions, whether good or bad. The impact of individuals and groups in the family and outside the family, for better or for worse, shapes the child rearing and well being. There are probably cases of isolated families in an island or far away mountain who are the only influence in bringing up children, but to function relatively well in our society, "it really takes a village to raise a child."

We now live in a Global Village, with our families, relatives and friends scattered all over the world. Once in a while we are connected physically, but most of the time we are connected digitally, via Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Viber, WhatsUp, Pocket, or whatever. I do not know nor am I sure if these connections will totally replace or suffice the village we need in raising our children. But from my experience with these digital connections, and the interactions between my children, my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, and other relatives and friends, I believe these digital interactions still influence us and our children. To augment these digital interactions, there is however a need for physical interactions, so at least once every two years, we do get together with our friends and relatives abroad. For our relatives and friends in the country, we get together with them more often. For what we and our children have become and will be, are now the responsibilities or the faults of our Global Village. So I want to give a deeper thank you to all families, friends, relatives, and friends - present and absent - for being part and influencers of our lives and of our children's lives.

Definitely more than one hand raised them, and more than one knee brought them up. We are all in these together, and I hope and pray we will continue to be positive influencers of our children's lives.

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