Please don't get me wrong - I love my son dearly. My heart aches not having him around, not having the opportunity to see him off to school each day, feeling my chest swell with pride that he's turning out to be a better young man than I ever did. What's more, I know that my family there in the Philippines is not perfect by any means. There's a couple of drug addicts, one of whom's a thief, and another who used to be on the wrong side of the local law and the local mob (which are not always two different things). But none of them are malicious - in fact, one of the lessons I want Eric to learn is that even though he knows their faults (and I made sure he did), even though he knows he cannot trust them with money or belongings, he can trust them with his safety...because I've seen how they reacted when my oldest son was in danger even when they didn't like him. Such is the importance of family.
The rest of my brothers and sisters there are trustworthy in all respects. Time and time again I marvel when, after we've sent money there, my wife will discuss with them how the money was used...because she is completely confident that they are being truthful with her. That's something else that shocked me - most of her family are truth-tellers, people who honestly value the truth above self-interest. I'd never seen that before. I didn't think such people existed...but they do. Along the way, I also discovered that the more one tells the unvarnished truth, the more one can tell falsehood in others - but that's another story.
It was a struggle getting Eric's school year done here three weeks ahead of time so he could start school there in the Philippines, but we got it done. I asked him over the phone how he likes the school there, and at first, after his first visit to register there before the beginning of their school year in mid-June, he said, "Dad, it looks like a school in a third-world country." But at least he said it quietly enough to where the others around him couldn't understand him. He said that they didn't have any lockers, and I knew from my oldest son that they didn't have whiteboards - they had the old blackboards and chalk that I grew up with. They also didn't have air-conditioning, but only ceiling fans. I haven't had the opportunity yet to tell my son that where I went to school in the Delta, we also used blackboards, but we didn't have ceiling fans, much less air-conditioning.