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The Family

     Over the past few trips to Tacloban, Leyte, I have come to know a Filipino family. It's a large family - husband and wife, a brother, six kids, and two boarders. The kids' ages range from 14 years down to 9 months.  

     They all live in a wooden shack built on a mud flat between a road and the sea. Like the other houses jammed up against it, theirs is raised on wooden piles and under the houses live chickens, pigs, and an occasional dog. The room facing the path is a sari-sari store - a mini convenience store - with a chicken-wire sales window. 

        Tonight I have been invited back for dinner. It is 5:30 and I am taking a tricycle to their house. 

        I get out of the tricycle. A kid shouts, "Hey man, give me peso." I climb down the near vertical steps to the mud flat and walk along a narrow path to the house. Dozens of kids are playing: the girls are practicing a dance for the forthcoming fiesta; the boys are playing marbles. "Hey man." "Hi Joe." A little girl with curly hair remembers me. "Hello Allan." I wave. A procession follows me down the path. 

        At Titoy's house the procession stops and I climb the steps alone. Inside, someone takes my shoes. I turn around to a sea of faces - they fill the door and the window. More smiles and waving hands and hi-Joe's and hello-Allan's. From the kitchen Titoy shouts, "Hey Pig-wig, your Uncle's here." Pig-wig is the nickname I gave the baby and it seems to have stuck. His real name is Fritzee. Titoy brings me a beer. One of the kids comes in carrying Pig-wig. 
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