“The family that prays together stays together”. So goes that old familiar adage. What about a family that works together? Does it cork together? Certainly no.
Bayanihan is the Filipino term for communal efforts in accomplishing tasks which are usually difficult when done alone. The Bayanihan Spirit is probably unique in the Filipino but it is also fast becoming an endangered specie, lest we start resurrecting it to begin from the smallest unit of the society, i.e., the family.
The spirit of communal effort to achieve a task is commonly practiced in the Philippines, hence, the term “bayanihan” has become the motivating force that entices members of the family to come forth and lend a helping hand in almost every endeavor there is to task. Bayanihan is employed when a gathering takes place to accomplish a task or for providing manual labour, as in a barn raising to move it into a new location.
Back in the days, the tasks were often major jobs, such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn, that would be difficult to carry out alone. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing, could be done as a group to allow socializing during an otherwise tedious chore. Such gatherings often included refreshments or good food and entertainment provided by the other members of the group.
As the family patriarch, I always make it a point to have the four boys (our three sons and our son-in-law) to get them to work together, not only to make our job easy and faster but also to make sure that the bayanihan spirit is not lost in the modern high-tech era where manual labor is no longer a favorite among the youth because it has been constantly challenged by the craze and craves for computer games.
Today (April 9) is a public non-working holiday here. Since my weekends are devoted to my Arabic studies, there is no better way to put this spare time to good use than cutting the grasses and cleaning around the house to be prepared for the rainy season when it comes in June.
The day before, I had already sharpened all five grass-cutting tools: two cycles, two scathes and one that is locally termed as ‘bolo’. The clearing tools consists of two brooms made from midribs of coconut leaves, a rake and wheel barrow. Now we are all set for the job.
As it was bayanihan the women (my wife, our two daughter-in-laws and the two teenage house helpers) had their share of the bayanihan. They prepared our coffee, tea and breakfast. The other two (my youngest daughter and my eldest son’s wife) were in charge of the four grand kids. Everybody had a role in the bayanihan. Everybody was busy. What a way to put the bayanihan spirit to life and what a sight to behold.
As the activity Commander, I felt so fulfilled and content, not so much because I have one great workforce I can muster at the flick of a finger, but because my boys and girls are so much a part of this revered Filipino tradition fondly called bayanihan. I can’t ask for more. Allah (swt) had showed me what an intact and well-motivated family can do. A family that makes me complete; a family that I can depend on when my ego seems to be at its lowest ebb.
By this time, I had tried all cutting and cleaning tools to keep the home environment clean and my family safe. I had worked with every member of this family and realized how each one of them is an important component of the bayanihan system.
Now I must conclude – the family that works together is not corked to its happiness and fulfillment.
In another dimension of bayanihan I tried and cried. I was sincere but I failed because there was obvious absence of bayanihan effort. Now I succeeded under very difficult circumstance. I am sorry. I have to face and live with the reality that “loving does not always mean possessing”.