Last weekend I had the great pleasure, indeed honor, to attend a family reunion. It was called a “re-membering”, a coined phrase to suggest remembrance of the family history and a gathering of the younger generation to be sure they know family traditions and will be inspired to carry them forward into the future.
In my view and by all accounts I’ve heard it was a huge success.
One thing that is “big” here in the Philippines is “name dropping”. It’s way too big, in my off-the-wall foreigner view, even reaching the point where people make obsequious accommodation for people , even vote in elections for people for no other reason than their family name. This often rubs me the wrong way.
Long-time readers here will note that I have virtually never descended into ‘name dropping’. But my dear wife, to whom I owe my own “illustrious family” connection has convinced me that I ought to write about this gathering.
I at first didn’t consider following her advice because I’m a lot like my dearly departed mother-in-law who never ‘traded’ on her name and didn’t have much use for those who did.
But I learned something so striking to me at this gathering that I felt I was more than justified in writing about my relatives by marriage, the Magsaysay’s … in particular the Zambales branch of the family.
Here’s a picture of just part of my own ‘grandfather’s side”, (Calixsto Magsaysay) enjoying ourselves at the reunion.
The small fellow with the cap in the center of the front row is my tito (uncle) Casto Magsaysay, who just passed his 97th birthday and has been a real inspiration to me over the years.
Tito Casto lived in the US for many years (he’s a dual US/Philippine citizen) and return to the Philippine sonly a few years ago.
Whenever I visit Tito Casto he’s always up to something new, into some venture or another, teaching me something I didn’t know about the family and Philippine history or trying to convince me to try some modification or another to my diet (he’s been a physician since before WWII, was a medical officer in the US Army in the war years).
From Casto on out, in all directions the family unfolds. There are so many stories, so many successes, so many varied personalities and interests in just this one family group that I would need a book to write about them all.
Don’t worry, I won’t deluge you with facts and personalities … perhaps just a few as time goes by. But I am proud to say I know virtually everyone in that picture, most of them by site, and I think that’s a pretty good indication of how this family has welcomed me into their midst in the short span of the 11 years since I met the first of them … my dear wife and life partner, Carmita Magsaysay Sevilla Starr.
I often hear foreigners complaining about their wife’s family and I never hear such comments without wanting to jump up and say, “I feel so blessed to be a part of my wife’s family”. I am a fortunate man, indeed.
But back to my title and to my point. It’s often said that a day is wasted if you don’t learn something. And while there was ever so much going on at that gathering, the thing that I took in most on that day was something that I should have learned years ago.
And if it was never to me, it may also be new to other readers, foreigner or Filipino. So here’s my take away.
One of the most noteworthy of all the many Magsaysay’s is, of course, the former president of the Republic, Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay (31 August 1907 – 17 March 1957) … (he’d be my cousin, by marriage) … shameless namedrop
Ramon Magsaysay is known for many things, but one thing I had never known about him, until I was graciously introduced to it by his daughter, Mila,(Milagros Magsaysay-Valenzuela) ) (who was one of our attendees, was a published credo … something that by every account I have heard of … he kept himself to, strictly.
It ought to be better known, IMO, and also ought to be subscribed to by many politicians of today, both in the Philippines and the USA, who seem to thing that politics is a way to exalt and enrich themselves and rise above the common folk … those of us who live out there in “flyover country”.
Here it is, for anyone who cares to read it. (And for any current politicians who might want to embrace some of the principles, my cousin won’t mind, I’m sure he didn’t mean these principles only for himself). Thanks for tuning in, folks.
- I believe that government starts at the bottom and moves upward, for government exists for the welfare of the masses of the nation.
- I believe that he who has less in life should have more in law.
- I believe that the little man is fundamentally entitled to a little bit more food in his stomach, a little more cloth in his back and a little more roof over his head.
- I believe that this nation is endowed with a vibrant and stout heart, and possesses untapped capabilities and incredible resiliency.
- I believe that a high and unwavering sense of morality should pervade all spheres of governmental activity.
- I believe that the pulse of government should be strong and steady, and the men at the helm imbued with missionary zeal.
- I believe in the majesty of constitutional and legal processes, in the inviolability of human rights.
- I believe that the free world is collectively strong, and that there is neither need or reason to compromise the dignity of man.
- I believe that communism is iniquity, as is the violence it does to the principles of Christianity.
- I believe that the President should set the example of a big heart, an honest mind, sound instincts, the virtue of healthy impatience and an abiding love for the common man.