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Mr. Manners: What Would I Teach My Children?

Margie and I would go to all our friends’ children’s parties. This was the time of no party planners and themes. We indulged in the barbeque, cheese pimiento pinwheels, and a cheesy party spaghetti pasta. Funny, the only thing we missed was not bringing children along. We didn’t have any! And as time passed, most of my friends' children were in their 20s, and I guess we are way past being the titos and titas!

But we did have the opportunity to see our nieces and nephews grow up. There were always lunches or dinners with Apu (Margie’s majordoma and family cook) in Bel Air at my mother-in-law's home or an Olives get-together at my sister Nong or Ton’s house, or even our “winter retreat” with the Nevadas in Baguio. The house was always filled with children. Well, they aren’t kids anymore. My nephews and nieces on both sides are accomplished, and have kids of their own.

What I do appreciate are the lessons they learned from their parents and grandparents that have been ingrained in their being. And it shows with their children. If there is anything I regret today, at this point in my journey, it's not having children of our own.

Early on, when we got married, as youngest children, we focused on our careers. Margie was doing really well with training at Philippine Airlines. She was a line administrator, handling crew training and check rides. If she continued working, she would have been in line for a management position.

I was busy moving up the food chain at corporate ABS-CBN and was sent overseas to run a fledgling start-up called The Filipino Channel. Margie gave up her career to join me in the Bay Area. It was a difficult decision for us since she would have to give up her independence.

If this were Manila, she could have her own career, and we would have had our life as a couple. But immigration rules prevented her from working, so she was the Ambassador's wife so to speak. I will admit in our tumultuous relationship as best friends, husband and wife, separated, and back again as soul partners, the Bay Area years were the best of times for us. But as choice had it, I guess I was just selfish.

The idea of having children always kept cropping up. My aunts never stopped asking us, and to the point that I said, just to keep them quiet, I was shooting blanks (which I wasn’t, I had that checked!).

Margie and I enjoyed our lives in Millbrae. But things changed. I was recalled home to Manila, and we started our life back in the grind. Margie didn’t want to go back to PAL, and worked with training at Sharp Karilagan, and for me, I slaved over work to keep going. And like all things, it took a toll in our relationship. Manila wasn’t kind to me, and maybe I was too naïve that things would work out.

Today, I have the opportunity to reflect on my passions, and live a more mindful life. Margie has her work cut out for her at Emphasis (who would have thought she would work in a salon?), and I have my fans. As luck would have it, I get to live out my dream of working a restaurant by helping out at our corporate dining room, and get back to writing. Life is simpler, less edgey, and more soulful. In off moments, I wonder what it would like to have a son or daughter. They would have graduated by now. And I guess I deprived myself of seeing one of my own grow up.

I look to mentoring those who need some inspiration, and maybe to recompense the regret I have for my decision. And well, as to that, I have too many to count. Margie and I never talk about it, but we know that we do what we can to spend time with the nieces and nephews. Funny, now, they look over me and check on how we are doing. Maybe it isn’t so bad. Again, everyone has their own way of parenting. We grew up in the midsts of yayas and yayos, and we didn’t turn out so bad, right?

If I had my own children, what would I teach them?


Always say "please." In these days of helicopter parenting, children may just get carried away. There is nothing wrong reminding them to say "please."

"Thank you" is always in order. Just the same way we teach children to say "please," they need to learn to be thankful for any little thing. It would be nice if don’t have to keep reminding them.

"Pardon" or "excuse me." It would be great for children to show consideration to others.

Chat with others. Some kids aren’t too sociable, but if they are, teach them to ask questions about others.

And finally, the Golden Rule. How they treat others, is how they will be treated.


I guess these few thoughts may seem very obvious, but I do see children acting it out more often than not. I don’t want to appear controversial since, what do I know, I don’t have kids of my own. Maybe I am taking  a more old-school view. We just want our kids to turn out fine on their own, more conversant, and to play outside more often. We went to other people's homes and did not impose and held our tantrums. We just wanted to have a fun time.


And we didn’t turn out so bad, so a little reminder wouldn’t hurt as well, right?