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Where Does Personal Responsibility Ends?

The story of my brother

My brother called me last night, asking if he can borrow some money. He said he finally got a job and needed to rent a room in Manila but he does not have enough money yet for the advance payment and for his daily expenses.

“What work is it this time?” I inquired like a growling dog.

I stressed “this time” because he previously worked as a data encoder, he finds it boring so he resigned and became a tambay. Then he worked as a “bagger” in SM supermarket, he said he loves the job but SM doesn’t renew contracts, so he became a full time tambay again.

“Sales staff in a Dunkin Donuts shop somewhere in Sta. Mesa,” he simply said, trying not to show his bitten feelings, but I felt it.

I know I hurt him. Unspoken feelings behind a casual question can really hurt.

I ignore my brother. Saying that I’m broke too, which is true. I am saving for my thesis and for whatever reasons our mid-year bonus wasn’t released yet, so I have no extra money for him.

Later in the day, I texted him asking how much does he need and asked him to meet me at my boarding house. I know the feeling of being on that helpless situation. He is still my goddamn brother anyway.

My older sister and I supported my brother during his college days. My sister paid for the costly tuition and I gave him his daily allowance. Like most of the families in the province, it is an unwritten rule – to support your younger brother or sister after you finished college. My brother first took up Political Science and after a few semesters, he finds it boring so he shifted to I.T. We agreed, and painstakingly paid the expenses, always hoping that he will finish the course.
Six years passed by and, “Jesus H. Christ!” he was still in third year – irregular student. He said algebra is too tiring, he didn’t like the schedule and other obnoxious alibis.

I quit. That is too much! We told him if he really wants to finish college, he should work. Maybe that way, he will understand the value of hard work, but he chooses not to finish it, believing that not all successful people have college degree.

Our efforts and hard work was not given importance. It really hurts. My sister cried hard. I am very disappointed. We all felt that feeling of failure – we failed ourselves and we failed him. We sacrificed some of our happiness and comfort for nothing. Maybe that is how “family” works; we just hope our small brother is right but despite that, we still love him.

I tried overcoming my disappointment by thinking that being in a position of giving help is better than the one receiving it. At least we tried and did our part, or that is what we think.

Where does personal responsibility ends?

I believe that having a sense of personal responsibility over something, a person or a situation is base on our sense of morality and acquired values. Morality is subjective and therefore sense of responsibility is subjective. It is perceived and phenomenal, always affected by personal views, experiences and family background.

Maybe I am wrong in doing my responsibility as an older brother because in doing so, I am teaching my brother to become over dependent thus depriving him to learn the value of self-reliance and perseverance.

Maybe Jose Rizal is wrong in doing his responsibility to our mother land to the point of sacrificing his very own life because nowadays, we Filipinos, are always searching and waiting for another martyr, another hero to unite us. Maybe the Filipino’s natural instinct of unity and patriotism was unconsciously frozen and crystallized by this event over a hundred years, making us wait for another hero to thaw our sleeping senses and unite us once again.

Maybe our government is wrong in continuously promoting and marketing the Filipino talents abroad for the sake of dollar remittances to help the economy because it violates the very basic principle of a healthy community, which starts with a complete family. Maybe the Philippines, in further endorsing and supporting work migration, in fulfilling its responsibility to sustain the economy, is actually worsening it by dividing Filipino families.

Maybe some OFWs are wrong in leaving their families for the sole purpose of comfortable living and better education, or maybe they are right because when we make big decisions we gamble on our personal relationships. We are not always sure if we will receive resentment, indignation, hurt feelings, anger, gratitude, reciprocal love or forgiveness particularly from our loved ones when we make big decisions, especially if it means leaving them for the sake of personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility, then is a burden for the over-critical and reactive and for those who require love in return. Nevertheless, it is a blessing for the compassionate.

So where does personal responsibility ends?

Maybe in the end, love is all that matters.


  1. Tama ka dyan is all that matters...

  2. It's very difficult to ignore our responsibilities to our family though there is no written provisions in the family code. It is customary for Filipinos to be of each other in times of hardships.

  3. Hmmm... buti na lang ako ang bunso...kaya wala naman akong pinagkakakgastusan...jijijiji... pero yan ang madalas na arguement... hanggang saan ba talaga ang pagtulong... how does helping differs from tolerating... jijijijiji

  4. Hi. This blog is now one of the nominees for the Filipino Blog of the Week award (week 166). You may visit the site and vote. Poll is on the sidebar.

  5. i support ur insights, and touched wd ur honesty here..i can actually relate..

    kudos also for the PBTW nomination.



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