Keeping it together

It’s no longer unusual, nowadays, for a family to have one or both parents working in another country, or for grown children to relocate abroad for work or start their own family. Single parenting is also quite common, right along there with blended families and LGBTQ unions with kids.

Yet even when families are together in one place — one home, compound, neighborhood or city — it takes a lot to stay “together,” literally and figuratively.

Perhaps sensing the threats to what is recognized as society’s basic foundation, our government in 1992 decided to declare the last week of September as Family Week, as mandated by Proclamation 60 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

Ramos wanted the week to emphasize the importance of the family as “the foundation of the nation” and “as a basic autonomous social institution,” as well as recognize “the sanctity of family life,” as stated in the Constitution of the Philippines.

The world may transform in many ways, but the need for family will never change.

“No matter how much life changes and the concept of family evolves, it may continue to benefit human health and wellness by offering a sense of belonging and support,” it aptly states in an article on Better Help, which also enumerates the factors affecting family life as “advancements in technology, changing cultural norms, new priorities and advanced forms of communication fueled by the internet.”

The sense of belonging one gains from being part of a family — whether it is in a traditional setup, adoptive or “chosen,” a new kind of family defined in these modern times — has a profound impact on one’s well-being.

With government providing the impetus for today’s families to connect or reconnect during the annual Family Week, it is up to each one of us to take steps to keep ours together in these fast-paced, nomadic, dysfunctional times.

In the local setting, we already see so many signs of the changing dynamics among families. We could wade through studies to figure out all the issues affecting our core foundation, but we believe one may truly gain more understanding by examining our own experiences.

Here, we share the views of people in our sphere, in answer to our query: What do you consider as the biggest challenge for your family in these trying times?


Gigie Arcilla, Editor-in-chief

Dealing with young adult children presents the challenge of establishing boundaries as they seek independence and transition into adulthood. Striking a balance between support and autonomy, as well as providing guidance while allowing room for growth, can be difficult, especially for a single parent.

STEPHANIE Mayo (fifth, clockwise) with her family. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Stephanie Mayo


Stephanie Mayo, Film critic and writer

I have senior-citizen parents, and my siblings and I are now at the age when our health naturally starts to decline. Even if someone has health insurance, no one can deny how debilitating and expensive getting sick is. Without health, quality of life is decreased. You also cannot work (no work, no pay for freelancers such as myself) if you are sick.

Gratefully, none of us in the family are currently seriously ill. It’s just that given that these trying times are also marked by corruption, medical gaslighting, new diseases and viruses and climate change, health problems have become even more threatening.

PAULINE Songco (fifth from left) and dad Arnold, mom Dhen, grandmother Linda and sister Patricia. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Pauline Songco


Pauline Songco, Editor and writer

I would say our biggest challenge is finding time to be together. I am always never at home. If I am, I would just be there for a few hours to sleep. I would get up, then go to work again. I find myself having less and less free time than before.

My sister is busy with work, and so is my father. My mom is left alone at home with my cats. But, she goes to the gym to occupy herself and to see her friends. Yet, I’m thankful for what we have right now for these are the same things that we used to pray for before.

PAULINE Pascual (first from left) and dad Roy, mom Jocelyn and sister Prizcia. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Pauline Pascual


Pauline Joyce Pascual, Lifestyle writer

Our family became even closer during the pandemic, and now that things are almost back to normal, it is the family bonding that we used to that we find the most challenging.

My sister is studying and getting ready for her time at college while my parents are back in business and I am now working outside of our province. I miss the good old days even though we still saw each other every week.

RAPHAEL, Rachael, Joylen and Ruben Ramos. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Raphael Ramos

Raphael Ramos, STEM student at De La Salle Araneta

The desire to act in spite of the potential consequences for everyone else. The family members’ immaturity leads to a more serious issue and may stunt each person’s development.

GEL, Dino, Tei and Maui Datu. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Dino Datu


Dino Datu, Chef, journalist and entrepreneur

The biggest challenge in families today is creating quality family time. Everyone is so busy and there are so many distractions.

While working and school work are necessities, we need to create time to just sit together for regular meals and chat without our electronic devices.

Even on rare occasions that everyone is together, dining out, for example, people look at their phones every few seconds. That’s what I think is a big difference between today’s families and those from a few decades back. We often see “perfect” families on social media. Sadly, it seems like that’s the only place it exists.


Teresa Laurente, Business Consultant

For me, it has to be family, healthcare, children’s education and social media effect on young people.


Pamela Palacio, Statistician III, Provincial Government of Bataan

Disrespect to God and parents. Negative effect of social media.

YVETTE Chua-Carrion (fourth from left) beside her husband, businessman Melon. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY
OF Yvette Chua-Carrion


Yvette Chua-Carrion, Educator and breakthrough life coach

In these financially trying times — the budget for groceries, how to have savings for emergencies (which we hope won’t happen), and high gas prices.

(FROM left) Riley, husband Noel, Tiffany and Ashley. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Tiffany Cuna


Tiffany Sison Cuna, Former beauty queen turned entrepreneur

Disciplining and inculcating values in our children knowing how the Internet plays a vital role in their lives — it could either influence them positively or negatively.

JIA Bote and dad Milton. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Jia Bote

Jia Bote, Student at the University of Santo Tomas

With my father working away from home, the biggest challenge is having more time together as a family. When I was younger, I thought I had all the time in the world to spend time with my family. However, as I grow older, my responsibilities increase, and I have less free time than I used to.

I remember spending the peak of the pandemic away from our father, and we could only talk through the phone for months. It was challenging for me not to see my father physically, especially when I go through difficult moments because I believe that we need more of our parents’ wisdom and guidance as we grow older. With the pandemic and the natural course of life, it feels like I have less time and opportunity to be with my father who is also growing old day by day.

ALEX and Jet Capina (fourth and fifth from left) with their children. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY of Jet Capina


Jet Capina, retired bank vice president

Our challenge is how to make the family complete on weekends. My children have their own gimmicks. Before every Sunday we were together attending church service but after the pandemic each of them esp  Paolo is out of the house  to be with his gf.

I don’t think it’s good to write about it. Our challenge is how to make the family complete on weekends. My children are all good and well behaved but having grown up, the elder ones now and then have their own gimmicks. I am happy that my husband, who often plays golf, is with me always.