As far as I can remember I have had a happy childhood. I don’t have a dramatic or a traumatic experience as to how my parents raised me like most of the other kids. My parents handled my wrongdoings and mistakes very calmly, although I can’t remember doing something that’s very bad. I guess you could say that I’m spoiled but I don’t think I am. Being an only child I think helped on making my punishments not that painful. But how my parents raised me is what made me the person that I am today, and I think they did a great job. No, my parents were never pushing or demanding what I should do or become. My first 4 years of life, it was just traveling, since I was just two months old. I am lucky in many ways. I was born in Australia, Stirling City, Perth. So I am a true blue Australian citizen. My parents; mom is Filipina and dad from faraway Finland. Here I am, one of the luckiest people, because I have three nationalities. Traveling and meeting my sisters in Australia, grandmother and other relatives in Finland, and some living in the Philippines. This was one of the parts of my upbringing.
When I was about five or six years old I remember throwing a huge tantrum that my mom would end up crying and telling my dad to handle “his daughter”. My dad would drag me and lock me up in the bathroom telling me that I could only come out if I was a good girl, with an angry tone that’s almost screaming I replied “I AM A GOOD GIRL”. This incident is what my dad always shares to his friends as an anecdote. I was loved, pampered and sometimes even too much by my mom, because she is the cotton wool in our family. Never had a yaya, because that was the mind-set of my dad. We have a baby we bring her up. My dad is the rock and iron wall of the whole household. Mom being the soft and caring one, never gets tired or annoyed, even if she was so busy with so many things of everyday running of the home and business, she always had time for me. My dad is so logical, practical, strict and running home like an army camp and a gymnasium. But he was always there, problems that are big or small or even just to hug.
My parents never used baby language when talking to me, so I started to talk very early. This was one of my learning curves, when I started to talk at the age of 9 months, and thanks to my parents it was real talking, not some gaga guuguu! Same comes with walking, which I started at the age of 8 months. This was because my dad was and still is a true sportsman. He used to balance me on his hand when I was only 5-6 months old we were doing all sorts of funny stuff, from which other people don’t even dream of doing with a baby so young. Mom was teaching me the ways of the Filipinos. There’s so much to learn about traditions and dialects, ways of life, and the extended family connections. Also about the Catholic Religion, even though I am an Evangelist Lutheran because that’s my father’s religion.
Christened in the Lutheran church in Australia, I followed my father’s teachings of believing and the Holy Bible, but in a totally different way from Catholics. Still there were never any conflicts or arguments of how to practice or what religion to follow. Going to church with my mom every Sunday, was the right thing to do. Listening to my father and his teachings to truly believe and follow God. These things showed me how different we are but in the same time so much the same. Growing up in the mixed marriage family, might be a blessing, but sometimes a curse. In so many ways it is sometimes hard to know which world I belong to. Both I guess. Sometimes thinking why we Filipinos are cruel to animals, ignorant about our environment, and so wasteful. Teachings totally against with what I got from my father. Since I was small, I was taught to think about tomorrow. Respect friends, share things with them. Take care of nature in my own small ways. Always take care of all living things, especially animals. Look after and be a side of the defenceless. Look towards tomorrow, not only with studies, but learning to live a meaningful life and also save money for the rainy day.
Make sure that the weakest have their share. If someone has a hard time, do not put the person more down. Help the weak. Plant trees or flowers; do anything what makes surroundings more beautiful. Not only me, but everybody around my father, has been learning these facts of life. Even my mom, she became totally devoted to our pet dogs. These things and more have been my guiding ropes these nearly 19 years of my life. Since I was in kinder, I was never pushed or forced to study, or to be the best or even second best. I was taught to be fair and independent. For my parents, any level of test grades was good. I was never told to become an engineer, nurse or a doctor. Choice was trusted on me. My parents said: Be you, because the future is yours, we just try our best to give a nice path and a little push for your starting journey in life. Here again, I been lucky, no demanding and no pressure. I have been taught to make my own decisions and to stick with them. That is maybe the greatest thing in my upbringing, loving and trusting parents, whom been treating me as equal, not just like a kid. Anything and everything was and is discussed in the dinner table or any given time when we are together. No matter how young I was, there were never secrets or some “adult talk only”, I was always present and part of it.
From Global matters, to politics and family planning, I was taught everything before I was 8 years old. There were no questions or matters which I was not able to discuss with my parents. They called the SPADE a SPADE!! I was taught by my dear mom to be a Filipina lady. She taught how and why to keep the old traditions. Why it is so important to believe and follow God. Sometimes she was like a chicken mom, worrying about the smallest things. She taught me to be a little girl, but in the same time to learn and do things by my own. She taught me to be a young lady, to be careful and to make the right decisions. Always equal, even in the normal everyday arguments, which is unusual for the Filipino kids. As everybody knows, normally here in the Philippines, adults yelling, shouting and spanking, but they do not teach much. With my family to talk back is a must! I should answer every single question that they ask. It’s funny to think that in other families kids get hit for talking back, but with mine it’s a norm. It’s just like being in a heated argument.
I really learned to respect and admire my mom’s unconditional love, which I never saw anywhere else around my friends’ homes. She never taught me to cook though, because father did all the cooking in our home, from pizzas and casseroles to a Russian Stroganoff. Mom taught me to be patient and take everything in the Filipino way, but that doesn’t suit me. I am little bit different. Maybe that is the other half in me, the white people’s way. Everything has to be done now, fast and efficiently. I am so grateful that my mom taught me to be me, not a special white kid with a Filipina mom. My mom is special and in her way she showed me to be a person, not white or brown or anything in between. Just now and fast, everything must go like that. Everything has to be planned and in time, no changes or delays. That is my other half. Maybe somewhere deep down I am still bit more like a white person. That’s where it comes, from my father. He taught me with his own silent way. Building things, working and never relying on somebody. His ways are very simple, very practical and easy to follow. There are no misunderstandings if I was following the few and simple rules.
Sometimes it was so hard to understand, why it had to be like that. Sometimes I felt like I was punished and interrogated for no reason. After a short while I thought that I understood what he really meant. The main thing what I learned from that is the thing that an argument should not last more than 15 minutes. That was my father’s idea of arguing. It is a very good rule. What I learned from him? Where I belong and from where I come from. I learned to respect life, and other religions and cultures. The Mother Earth and everything on it. I was taught to enjoy what I am doing, not just go ahead and follow the flock, like sheep. I love Classical Ballet, and that has been my life for nearly 9 years. Both of my parents are World Class Athletes, and for sure they wanted me to follow their footsteps. I was taught to follow my heart and make the right decisions for myself. I love dancing and that is what I do. I would say that it is a blessing to be born to this family, where there is respect and lots of love. Not just inside the family, but everybody and everything around us. Every day is a new lesson, new things to learn from my parents. I was taught to walk with my head up and with eyes wide open. Try not to miss a thing with what life might bring to my way.