My Kuya, the Selfless Sibling

Kuya, can I trade with you? Two of my garlic and cheese pizza slices, for one slice of yours.”

I watched as my older brother, Paolo, scratched his head and looked wistfully at his beloved slice. It was full of meat, onions, ham, and green pepper. I knew he wanted to eat his slice as much as I did. And he knew that I was being my mischievous self again! After a few seconds of silence, he said the magic words:

“Okay, let’s trade!”

I laughed triumphantly and gave him my two slices in exchange for his.

If there’s something wonderful about having an older brother, it is this: trading food with him and having him say YES. This is hilarious of course, but with my brother, I have found something beyond pizzas and laughter. I have found SELFLESSNESS.

In what way? Kuya stays up at night texting me, wondering where I am and what time I’d get home. When prodded well, he acquiesces to drive me to places even when he doesn’t feel up to it. Of course, it is also my Kuya Pao who sends me constant, annoying messages like, “What’s the food at home?”

Just last night, Kuya was reading the book I wrote, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear, published by OMF Literature. He admitted to me that he couldn’t help but cry as he remembered the time I was sick. Then, he recounted a story that my memory has forgotten:

When the doctors found the sac in my brain that looked like a tumor, Kuya said to Mama, “Does this mean that I will have to stop school for a while so that Janina can have her operation? I can stop school.”

My brother was dead serious. Geeky as he was (and still is!), he was willing to stop school so that I could receive what I medically needed. Thankfully, he didn’t have to, since God provided money for my bills. Hearing this story now as an adult, made me tear up. My Kuya was being selfless again, wanting to give up what was his for my sake.

Being Selfless Means Being Like Jesus

Being selfless is an attitude that Jesus embodied. It is also something that can be practiced by us when we move in the direction of love in our relationships with each other. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3-6, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

I am blessed that I have a brother who is practicing the selflessness of Christ with me. I don’t have to look far to know what God’s love is like because of my own Kuya. My Kuya may not be perfect, but he’s doing a pretty good job as Kuya.

Siblings Are Called To be Selfless

I hope this little story encourages us to be the siblings we are meant to be with each other. True, siblings can be annoying sometimes (annoying can actually be an understatement!), but as we relate with them, we can find the perfect practice ground for love and Christlikeness.

As one who lives with four brothers—especially a Kuya—we can always choose to be selfless.

Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.