8 Things The Filipino Only-Child Can Relate To

by Oriana Cuenca

It’s your first time in Disneyland. The line to this one ride is long. While waiting you watch the people around you—couples chatting, friends playing mobile games with each other, and siblings each other. And then there’s you. Alone. Waiting for the operator to call for the singles ride.

If you’ve ever been in this situation before, you’re a veteran only child. From the lonely amusement park rides to the Christmas mornings full of presents, here are 8 things only people without siblings would understand.

8. The only siblings you’ll ever have are your 14+ cousins

Filipinos used to have huge families. In our parent’s generation, families would have five, eight, or even eleven siblings under one house. While families have shrunk nowadays, the extended family has only grown. Our parent’s many siblings have given us just as a horde of cousins and those days when they visit are the rare days only-children experience what it’s like to have a family our own age.

7. All the gifts under the Christmas tree are yours

Christmas is the Philippines ‘ biggest holiday, and every December everyone would be out shopping for presents. Growing up an only child, Christmas morning felt almost like a second birthday with all the presents you get. Santa only had one delivery to make in your house, so your own stocking was always overflowing with gifts. You even got a say on what went on the Noche Buena table. There are some perks to being an only child and these were it.

6. Your parents were *extra* strict

“Sorry, strict ‘yung parents ko.” takes a whole new level when you’re an only child. If you’re a girl, the severity just triples. You’re ready for a career in sales with how often you had to convince your parents to let you go out, and every sales pitch comes complete with where are you going, what time will you be home, who you’ll be with, what are their numbers, and a three-page background check of every single one of those people. Size 11 font. Single space. (Or at least that’s what it feels like.)

5. Titas and Titos are always asking your parents, “kelan niyo susundan yan?”

Roughly translated to: “When are you gonna have your next kid?”

This question usually comes with a follow up of  “kawawa naman si (y/n) kung mag-isa siya“. Everyone thinks being an only child is lonely. While it does have those moments, the only-child life is not as dreadful as your (many) uncles and aunts make it seem. Every time you hear them ask this, you start to wonder if you want a younger sibling. (But the older you get, the more the answer leans towards no.)

4. Your parents probably have a whole wall for your pictures and life achievements

Yes, they are very proud of their only kid, but sometimes you’d wish they didn’t feel the need to display every single one of your baby pictures and cringe-y prepubescent photos for all the guests to see. The medals you earned in high school, your graduation pictures, and that one sports trophy all make their appearance on that wall that looks like your personal shrine.

3. You don’t understand sibling relations. At all.

In the Philippines, there is a throve of stories about the eldest siblings who leave school to send their younger brothers and sisters to universities. You know it’s heroic and heartwarming, but it’s alien to you. Only-children have only ever had to look out for themselves, so there’s no benchmark for the kind of relationship it would take for that level of sacrifice. On a lighter note, you also don’t know how people who insult each other constantly can be so close.

2. Cohabitating who?

There were usually only three people at your house, so sharing a room with other people seems so weird to you. You’re used to having your own space and doing things your own way. There was never anyone to race to the bathroom or clean up after, so any class retreat or squad trip you where you had to share a room was a novel experience. Having to share a bed, for whatever reason, is a whole new level of culture shock even if its a common thing in Asia. You’ve never had so little space in your life, and you subconsciously move to the other side of the bed.

1. You’re comfortable with being alone

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Loneliness and being alone are two very different things, and no one understands that better than the only child. At the end of the day, parents could live far away, friends could have other friends, and lovers could go home to their own houses. As an only child, you’re used to your own company and you know there’s nothing lonely about having time to yourself. You’re unashamed about eating alone at restaurants or going to the mall without bringing anyone with you. Only children know more than anyone else that you’re the one who’ll always be there for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Are you an only child? Share your only-child stories in the comments!

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