This boy and his little brother were just taking an afternoon nap one Sunday afternoon, and I was struck by the unthinking trust and devotion that was obvious between them. You often hear about brotherly love, and here it is, real and absolute.
Of course “Brotherly Love” is an abstraction, usually meant to encourage all human beings to love each other like brothers, but it’s difficult to imagine that as a actual reality. In this case, these two are brothers by blood, and in Dumaguete, blood counts for more than anything else. People love and are loyal to any relative down to their second and third cousins — not for any good qualities they may have, but because they are tied to them, are actually a part of them, by blood and by upbringing.
They don’t even have to like them very much. But they will stand by them for better or worse; they will give them absolute priority over their most generous benefactor, their best friend, sometimes even over their wives and husbands. For them to fail in this is disastrous. It brings not only guilt and shame, but actual loss of identity. If you’re not a part of your family here, you’re no one at all, not even to yourself.
But love and loyalty to anything but family is in short supply. Outside of family, people’s feelings don’t run deep; with their friends, with their girlfriends and boyfriends, they just splash around like kids in a pool.
They laugh and smile with each other, eat, drink, and even sleep with each other; but if in the middle of all this someone gets a call that his cousin has a problem, he’s gone- even if he leaves everyone else standing in the rain. Real love and loyalty does not extend to friends.
Nor does it extend to public welfare. When it comes to who makes the laws, who gets the city contract, family connections rule above even ordinary competence. If the person in question is a cousin, or even the friend of a cousin, he gets the support and the vote, no matter how unqualified he may be. The results are obvious.
This sleeping boy and his little brother dearly love each other. It’s certainly a good thing to love your family. But if you don’t love anything else in the world, you can’t expect much from it either.