Once upon a time, my mother got pregnant for a second time. This meant we were going to have a new baby in the family. My parents will now have a second child, and I will now have the privilege of being a kuya.
On December 30, 1994, seven years after I was born, my mother gave birth to my baby brother, Jonathan Jeremy Manalang Hernandez.
If you start gazing at my brother, you’ll immediately see his chubby cheeks, his big smile, and his natural puppy dog eyes that will make you feel like you just want to take care of him.
Being a big brother was great at first but then I started sharing something I wasn’t used to. The attention given to me by my family was now being decreased because my brother started stealing it away from me by simply just being alive!
Jealousy, envy, anger, and resentment were the emotions that were exploding inside me. I couldn’t bear the thought that my family loved him more.
The last straw was when he caught the hearts of my grandparents. Being the first grandchild of the family meant I was the favorite of everyone, but now, not anymore.
This lead me to bully my brother and distance myself from the family…
Let my brother share his story with you.
I would remember the days that I would tell Mom how I wished Kuya was never born. I knew he didn’t like me (like… AT ALL) but what I didn’t understand is why does he have to be aggressive about it?
I watched TV a lot, so I know that sibling rivalry is a very common topic. But what I notice is that even if the older siblings don’t like their younger sibling, they would just be indifferent and cold towards them, and maybe throw them a little verbal abuse, but hardly anything purposely physical.
For as long as I remember, Kuya would just hurt me for no reason. There was a time that we were having a fight, for reasons I do not recall, and we were hurling all most everything in reach across the room. He won that argument when he threw a swiss army knife and left me bleeding on the head.
But I think the worse kind of bullying that he did wasn’t the physical, but rather emotional.
You see, I felt that Kuya hated me so much that he didn’t want anything to do with me or the family. He hangs out with his friends more than with us.
I thought it was a good thing on my end because I receive all the said attention and I felt like I’m the good kid because I’m the one who was there when our grandfather was aging, and because I was doing well in school while Kuya was busy being “cool” somewhere else.
Little did I know, what he was doing was actually hurting me long-term.
First, I love my Lolo. He has always been my hero and what I’m going to share now is something I’m so sorry about, but it’s what I honestly felt. You see, I spent all the time in the world with my grandfather, but who does he always look for? Kuya!
Hearing: “Your Kuya doesn’t visit me anymore” will really get on your nerves eventually. Sometimes I would just want to go “I’m right here, all the time, but you’re still looking for Kuya?! C’mon!”
Also, at home, if I do something wrong or made a mistake, I would hear from Mom or Dad: “You’re acting like your Kuya!” It may seem a bit shallow, but I felt deeply about it.
Kuya was such a rebel that it left my parents to be TOO STRICT over me. I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes or else I would be judged. I just wished sometimes that I can make a mistake and they’ll just teach me properly or tell me what to do or not to do next time, rather than instantly comparing me to the person I don’t like the most.
Lastly, this is what I think really sucks. From grade school to high school, I’ve always been compared to Kuya. Then,I had better grades than him and the teachers like me because I’m a “good boy” compared to my notorious brother, but that’s just it! I’m labeled as the “Good Brother” or “JPaul’s Opposite,” but I’ve never had an identity of my own.
I was always under my Kuya’s shadow.
Even at church, I was also under Kuya’s shadow. On my first day in the Youth Ministry, March 2008, one of the Kuyas that was in front holding the microphone said “Ui! Yung kapatid ni JPaul!” as soon as he saw me.
Sometimes even today, I still live in Kuya’s shadow. People tell me, “oh, when are you going to be a Feast Builder na rin?” and “When will you write your own book naman?”
To this day, I admit that it really gets on my nerves. I’m so tired of being under a shadow.
Friends, I’m not writing this just so I can say I’m a blogger, attack my Kuya’s reputation, or just to release built in frustrations. Rather, I’m sharing this because it’s proof of how our God is a God of miracles. Yes, my Kuya could be one of the biggest jerks (I used this term because I don’t want to cuss on his article) I’ve ever known, and I was scarred by living under his shadow for years, but if God can change him so radically and turn him into one of the most amazing people I know right now that is blessing more and more people everyday, then really nothing is impossible with God.
Aside from changing Kuya so much, it’s a miracle how God touched my heart to accept, love, and follow my Kuya in his mission and life, today.
Now, I can say I no longer live under his shadow. Rather, I choose to be one of his shadows, and to follow him, as a leader and as my brother.
There Is Hope,
Thanks Jon for sharing your hate stories about me. hehe
In 2006, Jon got sick with a rare disease called Kawasaki. It’s crazy because his heart got enlarged, all his veins became swollen. His body turned purple because he was in pain. It was a sickness that threatened his life.
I remember entering the hospital room and seeing him tear up because a fraction of any type of movement had exponential pain all over. I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t even help him.
I couldn’t stand seeing him in pain. I became guilty of all the bullying I caused him and I started hating myself for it. I was shouting at God and telling him “sana ako nalang” (I wish I was the one who got sick) because my baby brother didn’t deserve the disease that he had.
That sickness had one miracle though. It brought our family closer than ever. I started becoming more gentle with my brother. I started talking to him more, and eventually we started being friends.
Our small talk turned into conversations which eventually turned into moments with each other that we look forward to.
I love that both of us can just go to each other and tell each about our lives, I know all his friends, all his crushes, and most especially his dream girl.
I’m the one who helped him convince my parents about the college course and career that he wanted. I am the one who convinces our parents to let him out of the house and just have a good time.
Today, we serve together in the ministry, we know each other’s secrets, we have each other’s back, and most of all we are best friends. I’m so excited because next year Jon will be my best man at our wedding.
All of this happened because my brother got sick!
It’s weird to say thank you to this big family problem that we had, but I truly believe that God used that storm in our lives to unite us and fill our family with love and acceptance.
Do you have a problem with your siblings? Here are 3 things you can do so you can fix the relationship.
1. Accept Each Other
Simple fact, you can’t choose your sibling. That’s why it’ll be a more meaningful process for you to just accept the coolness and weirdness of your sibling. You are family for a reason.
2. Spend Time Together
My friendship with Jonathan started to improve when we started doing things together like eating, driving, playing video games, and serving together.
3. Bring Out The Best In Each Other
Loving siblings correct each other because they want to bring out the best in each other. I remember just a few months ago, Jon told me that my preaching for the past 3 weeks wasn’t as good as before and not what I was capable of. He told me the parts of my talk that didn’t do well.
Of course, I also correct him on things that he needs to improve on.
The thing is we talk about it calmly, affirmingly, and lovingly.
Jonathan, my brother, I love you and I’m proud of what you are becoming! I pray that you’ll find your own way, you’ll carve out your own destiny, and you’ll be the BEST KIND OF MAN that you can be.
If you have strained relationships with your siblings, I pray that you find the strength to fix this heavenly relationship. This is God’s gift to you so please take care of it.
I pray that love will flow in your heart and in your family so that you may find the true joy of life.
The Best Is Yet To Come,