Families: clan reunions
The moment one squeals from the doctor’s or midwife’s slap on one’s bottom, a newborn baby immediately belongs to two families – the father’s and the mother’s. He gets inscribed into the family rolls of both. But wait…before him, his father had two family trees as well…as did his mother. So actually, when one is born, a baby finds himself part of four family trees already – four clans. As he grows up, if each of the four clans were holding annual reunions, he’ll be brought along by his parents to suffer through the four gatherings. And as an adult, from force of habit, or just to maintain his blood affiliations active — if only for future blood bank references – still, the reunions. By then, he’ll have only one high school class and maybe one college. But he already has four families.
But his grandparents? His paternal grandfather, no problem, he is taking that family name. But what about the grandfather’s mother? And there’s the maternal side to also consider? Our man now realizes, in his penchant for family trees and family reunions, that he’s actually part of eight families – at least. Take me, for instance: I will be tied by blood to the Aleonar, Barcelo, Alegado, Campugan and Yap families – and that’s just for Carcar. And what if the eight hold yearly reunions!
One realizes that belonging to families, like life itself, gets complicated as it unfolds. And then he gets married and also takes on his wife’s eight (at least, too) families. Unless he really is thinking of running for public office and already has a mind to capitalize on those huge number of relatives albeit still not on to the fact that those running against him for the same office also belong to some of those families, too.
So, is there a way out of these encumbrances, how to un-complicate? If you think this is a problem, how then can we simplify our clan affiliations?
The easiest way is to hold family associations down to only those who carry the surname. This way, everybody is readily recognizable and there is very little accounting for ancestry needed. This means I go only to the Aleonar Clan and everybody is familiar since we all are surnamed Aleonar there. We’re fourth- to eighth-degree cousins there but that’s okay. However, if that gets kind of boring or lonely, our association can expand a little and include those with the middle name (meaning those whose mothers also had the surname). Thus, my cousin Chris Aleonar Ignacio can come with us. And on the other hand, I can also go to the Yap Family reunions.
How does it go with our equally family-oriented Asian neighbors? Chinese family associations all over Cebu are known only by a single family name –Yap Association, Lim Association, and so on. As beneficiaries of the oldest civilization, maybe the Chinese attained the wisdom after millennia of beholding the noodle and its entanglements and its final unraveling to a single strand and, thus, the way out of clan interlinks is, that’s it – we go only by the name we have. By any other name a rose would stay as sweet, a bard may have written, but a spade is a spade. How ultimately inscrutable.