There are a lot of perks to being the eldest in a Filipino family. You always get brand new items, you get to boss around your younger siblings, and you get to go to the best schools.
However, being a panganay isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You also have plenty of panganay problems to deal with.
Besides having to be an example to their siblings and keeping up with their parents’ expectations, they must choose between prioritizing helping support the family or working towards their own financial independence.
In the past, we didn’t often discuss these, as doing so would make you appear ungrateful or “walang utang na loob” to your parents.
So, what are these panganay problems? Let’s find out.
Your Parents Expect a Lot From You.
Being the eldest means having to deal with your parents’ and relatives’ high expectations of you.
Since you got first dibs on almost everything, from your parents’ attention to schooling and even clothes, they expect you’ll repay them in turn.
This means excelling in your studies so you can go to a good university. And from there, they expect you to enroll in a good course. Preferably one that will help you land a high-paying and respectable job after graduation.
This is the origin of the stereotype that Asian parents would prefer their children to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Go for a career outside these options, and you’re automatically a disappointment to your family.
Of course, I’m not saying all Asian parents think like this. However, it is true that enough of them do for the stereotype to persist.
Why do they do this? Besides wanting only the best for their children, many Filipino parents see these careers as a surefire way out of poverty. (And as something to brag about to their friends.)
These expectations are often one of the primary sources of pressure and anxiety for many eldest children in the family. Thus, they tend to become perfectionists that punish themselves for even the slightest mistake.
Your Parents Always Compare You to Others.
A common pastime of many parents and relatives during reunions is comparing their children.
Expect to hear: “Uy si X engineer na! O, kamusta naman si Y?” (“Did you hear that X is already an engineer?”) or “Uy, alam mo ba yung anak ni X nag-aral sa ganitong school at nagtratrabaho na abroad!” (Did you know that the child of X studied in this school and is now working abroad?”) etc. etc.
Of course, your parents will just tell you that these comparisons mean nothing, that it’s all just small talk. But it can be difficult to believe that when all they talk about is your relative’s seemingly more successful child and even compare them to you.
These comparisons can make you feel inadequate even if you’re probably doing just fine. As with the previous item, this feeling of inadequacy becomes a prime source of anxiety and can significantly affect your mental and emotional health.
You’re Forced to Become a Breadwinner Before You Even Start a Family of Your Own.
Once you finish college and get a stable full-time job, you’d think you’re finally on your way to being fully independent, right? Well, guess again.
One of the most common panganay problems is them becoming the defacto family breadwinner at some point.
There’s nothing wrong with helping with the bills, especially if you’re still living with your family. However, when it becomes a mandatory role of the panganay in the family, it can become a significant problem.
Becoming a breadwinner means you’ll have little to no control over your money, as it’ll be spent on your family’s bills and daily necessities. This makes it hard to save money for your future plans and so you can be independent of your parents.
But what if you say no? There’s always that option, right? Well, about that…
It’s challenging to say no to your parents, even more so if you grew up with strict ones. Many may guilt-trip you by saying things like: “Wala kang utang na loob” (“You’re so ungrateful.”) or “Sobra ka namang makasarili” (“You’re so selfish.”)
It Can Be Much More Difficult to Achieve Independence Compared to Your Siblings.
In western countries, it is considered a sign of maturity for children to live independently from their parents. This means having a place of their own and the ability to control their finances, allowing them to achieve their dreams and plan long-term goals.
In the Philippines, however, accomplishing this when you’re not born into wealth is very challenging, especially if you have to support your family after you finish schooling.
You have to put your own personal plans on hold so you can help your family first. After your family becomes financially stable again, then you can go on in pursuit of your goals…whenever that may be.
So instead of using your savings to take up further studies, your money ends up being spent on daily necessities or your siblings’ schooling.
Being The “Ate” or “Kuya” is Hard.
Being the eldest in a Filipino family comes with plenty of perks, as well as plenty of downsides.
The expectations, the endless comparisons, and being forced into becoming a breadwinner can make it difficult for them to become independent despite having a job already.
So if you’re looking for more work opportunities on the side to help you become more financially independent (yes, even as an eldest child with panganay problems), Remote Staff is the place to go. Our jobs list contains various online jobs you can apply to, so you won’t run out of options. Good luck!