You Want Some Grapes?

I am a Kuya. That translates to older brother but its meaning goes far deeper than that. It carries with it duty, obligation and a responsibility to family. It is the most fulfilling part of my life but it can also be the most demanding. JP was the first person who I could finally look up to as my Kuya. Someone I could learn from and view as a role model.

The story of how we met is the second one I have surrounding fruit (it’s also how I met my bro JL). I had just transferred to the Philippines. This was after Mt. Pinatubo had erupted. Those friends and classmates who were already there had only grown stronger bonds after such an ordeal. And here I was the new kid–a common experience for military dependents.

I had gone through a full morning of classes and not a single student had said hello or welcomed me. That is not a normal experience as we military brats tend to stick together. So I chalked it up to recent events. So there I was, lonely new kid sitting by himself at lunch. Here comes JP, a Senior, and his first words of welcome to a new Junior were: “You want some grapes? Come on, they’re really good.” What is it with my friends and fruit? Such a casual offer but it made my day.

Little did I know that JP would become the second brother in my life. And a Kuya, no less. Those were difficult years for me, especially knowing that I’d be transferring in less than a year with the bases closing and facing a Senior year Stateside as the new kid. Through it all, JP, held me up. Many, many long nights of brotherly conversation, of encouragement. In the following years, I haven’t needed my Kuya as much but I always take comfort in knowing he’s there if I ever do.