Like parents, like children | Inquirer Business

Like parents, like children

/ 04:51 AM November 27, 2015

“No one takes a course in parenting,” says nurse Gina F. Ferrer, 49.  “Sometimes we do not know if we are doing the right thing.  But we follow our instincts to judge what is best for our children.”

But instinct may not be enough.  For many parents, the instinct is to pressure their children to get top honors, no matter the toll it takes on their physical or mental health.  For others, the instinct is to make children obediently follow in their footsteps, which includes going into the same profession and taking over the family business later on.

“We parent out of love,” Gina clarifies.  “When we love our children, then we will always try to be the best parents we can be.”


For Gina and her husband, pulmonary physician Dr. Malbar G. Ferrer, 57, the proof is their two children:  Giana Marie, 21, and Magin Benedict, 17.  Giana is currently taking pre-med at the University of Sto. Tomas while Magin is taking chemistry at the Ateneo de Manila University.


Smart parenting

I first met Malbar and Gina two years ago in Iloilo at a parenting seminar.  Their son Magin was one of my best students in the Ateneo Junior Summer Seminar (AJSS).

AJSS invites the country’s top high school juniors to experience college courses for a summer, on the condition that they pass the (real) Ateneo College Entrance Test, which they take a year earlier than most, together with thousands of seniors.  Magin, who would graduate valedictorian of Philippine Science High School-Iloilo, was among the 70 students in my math class.  Unlike some students outside Metro Manila who would often be intimidated by college life on an elite campus, Magin was quietly confident.  He sat in the front row, participated actively, and got along well with his peers.

Malbar had attended my talk on chaos theory at the Philippine College of Physicians National Convention in the early 1990s. The talk had made such an impression, he says, that today, he is studying complexity theory (an offshoot of chaos theory).  Now on the board of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Malbar asked me to talk about math again at their midyear convention (I chose game theory).

Malbar is a voracious reader, so is Magin.  Offered an iPad, Magin refused.  He had no use for a tablet; he wanted books instead.  Instead of a smartphone, he asked for the basic model, only for calls and texts.

Since the start, Gina has been the children’s tutor, guiding them to develop study habits, goal setting, time management.


“Once we tried a tutor for Filipino, but it didn’t work out,” says Magin.  “When friends ask who tutors me, I say my mother.  In grade school, she wrote questions on medical pads.  In high school, we were already studying on our own, because she had taught us how to study well.”

Even if the family can afford it, the children are not spoiled.  They have a car, but the children know how to commute.  They stick to their allowance.  Magin prefers canteen food, because going out to eat is more expensive.

“We train our children to take care of themselves,” says Gina.

“Grades are not that important,” says Malbar.  “Effort is.”

Though constant achievers, Giana and Magin have had their share of failures in academics and in activities. When they feel sad about setbacks, Gina says, “You learned something from your mistake.  And you will not make the same mistake again.”

“Do your best,” Malbar tells them, “that is all we ask.”

Magin once likened his father’s hands to those of a “giver.”  Malbar is a gentle soul, and reminds me a lot of Magin.  Gina is gregarious, and though I have not yet met Giana, I imagine that she takes after her mother.

The bond between husband and wife is strong.  When I tell Malbar that he looks young, he says, glancing at Gina, “Someone takes good care of me.”


No pressure

Who will take over the family profession?  Malbar holds clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo.  Giana is on track to become a doctor, but Malbar says it took another physician to convince Giana that medicine is a noble calling.

His parents will be thrilled if Magin becomes a doctor as well, but they encourage him to discover his own path.  Magin is planning to take up graduate studies in chemistry, but right now, he is having the time of his life, enjoying school and thinking about a minor in music.

In his wallet, Malbar carries with him a carefully folded piece of paper, the lyrics to a song his children made, telling him how much he inspires them, and how much they love him.

Next Friday:  Meet a family of doctors who have created a business empire

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Queena N. Lee-Chua is on the Board of Directors of Ateneo de Manila University’s Family Business Development Center.  Get her book “Successful Family Businesses” at the University Press (e-mail: [email protected]). E-mail the author at [email protected]

TAGS: Family, parenting

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