It is customary in my family that on birthdays after our prayer (Filipino Catholics represent y’all) I say a few special words reserved for the celebrant. Yeah big surprise, wonder how I ended up with that responsibility.
Today is my brother’s 22nd birthday. Twenty-two years ago I got a little brother and a best friend. Though I guarantee you there were times where I wasn’t sure we were gonna make it together. We had a nice dinner at a family-owned Italian restaurant in town, exchanged gifts, and we are now off to the movies. But before I go, I wanted to share with you the words I decided to dedicate to my dear younger brother from his Kuya (big brother).
Boobalah, Munch, Tikboy, Bruuudah. Happy birthday. Today you are 22. I want you to know I am tremendously, immeasurably proud of you. I see a wealth of possibility and potential and I commend you for staying true to yourself your entire life. I’ve never worried about the man you would become. I never questioned your decisions or the path you chose to take because you have never struck me as less than completely genuine. It’s okay that our paths and choices have led us to different destinations. It’s alright that we don’t always see eye to eye. You have been steadfast and firm with me and I know you’ve been that way with everything else.
You face some immense responsibility now. You are out of school and the world is going to call on you to use your skills and talents. Remember to use them for the betterment of yourself, your family, and your world. You have a responsibility to fulfill the role you were always meant to have and it is on you to discover what that is. You will take on more responsibility, as I have, to take care of Mama and Papa and you will have to contribute more to the family. This you should take on with pride and enthusiasm.
You know the world is very different now. The expectations and the rewards are grossly unbalanced. There are a lot of people who would want to take advantage of your skills and use you rather than help you. Be aware, be smart. I am not worried because I have never promised you anything that I did not believe I or the world could guarantee you. You are clever enough to see the world for what it is and still find joy and happiness and satisfaction.
You are no longer a kid. You have always been my best friend but now you are also my equal. I respect you and I admire you and I work to make you as proud of me as I am of you. I will always be there to be your guide, your mentor, your confidant, and your number one fan. Make us all proud. Make yourself proud. You are my brother, my blood, and I love you.
Man: 49 Loneliness: 17