• Veronica Pulumbarit

10 good and bad things I learned from my brother

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

I have two siblings, a brother and a sister, and one of them is celebrating his birthday today -- our brother Fernando Velarde.


He is the middle child in the family and his birthday, July 2, falls right in the middle of the year. It is the 183rd day of the year, 184th on a leap year such as this year.


Although I am two years older than him, I learned a lot from him:


(1) He taught me to run fast as he was always running after me. This is good because I have happy memories running outdoors as a child even though at the end of the day I would complain to my yaya or our Mom about the pain in my back.


My back problem was caused by a freak accident at age two. I fell straight from the second floor of our house down to the first because of my yaya's carelessness. I ended up with a slipped disc and spinal tumor.


Doctors always cautioned against moving too much or carrying heavy things. But thanks to my brother, I had a pretty "normal childhood," running around, biking, jumping, skateboarding...


(2) My brother taught me to jump from high places. I'm not sure if this is a good thing but I was happy to run and jump around the house and our backyard. However, I had a bad fall at age seven and ended up with a dislocated ankle. It was ugly. My ankle had swollen to the size of a tennis ball and until now, it causes me some discomfort.


(3) My brother taught me to play with remote-controlled planes and cars, robots, and other toys considered at that time as "toys for boys." But why shouldn't girls enjoy the same toys as boys?


I only started playing with Barbie dolls and paper dolls at about age five in Australia when I met my friend Dennis Fulgar or "Mamu" as he would be called later in life.


Dennis was the same age as I was but he was very refined. He loved books and dolls and I started to like the same things he did. Sadly, Mamu, my first best friend, passed away in 2014.


(4) My brother taught me to eat snow. This is bad! I saw him eating snow and so I ate it too. I wonder how many people walked over the snow before we ate it.


(5) My brother taught me to eat chocolates. Now this is also a not-so-good thing. I didn't like chocolates when I was younger.


I preferred oranges, which grew in our backyard in Australia, over chocolates. Until now, I eat oranges everyday (I can eat as much as four oranges in a day!).


But Australia had good chocolates. Everyday after work, our Dad would bring home a big bar each for my brother and myself. It was like our "Vitamin C (Chocolate)."


Our youngest sister Melissa wasn't born yet when our father, Lauro Velarde, worked for Ford in Australia. He was one of the six engineers who developed the Ford Fiera, the first Asian utility vehicle.


When we moved back to the Philippines, we lived in Bataan because that was where the Ford Philippines Stamping Plant was. He became the head of that Ford plant (later on, also head of the Ford Sucat plant).

(6) My brother taught me how to be a good sibling. My sister Melissa and I tease him and call him our "favorite brother" (he's the only one we have) and we call each other "my favorite sister."


But if he weren't our only brother, he might still be our favorite as he is a good and generous person. He is younger but I feel like he is the kuya because he protects us.


(7) My brother taught me to be good to our parents. It's sad that our Dad has passed away, leaving our Mom Erlinda behind. But Daddy would be comforted by the thought that our Mom is living with our brother, who is a responsible and reliable person.


READ: What would Daddy do?


#InternationalWidowsDay: Mom, the brave widow


(8) My brother taught me to be "studious." My brother and I had rooms opposite to each other. At night, I would see him studying while I was in my room reading pocketbooks, not school books. Thankfully, I received good grades in school but later on, I tried to imitate my brother and tried to study more.


(9) My brother taught me to be punctual. In high school, my brother would wake up very early, at 4:30 a.m., because the school service would pick us up at 6:30 a.m.


Not me. I had trouble sleeping because of my painful back (and because I was reading pocketbooks). I always had trouble getting ready in the morning.


The back problem persisted in my early years as a journalist and had trouble being on time.


Thankfully, I received therapy for my back and my sleeping habits improved. I then became "more than punctual."


At GMA News Online, I always arrived about an hour early for my 8:00 a.m. shift. At Inquirer.net, I was late for work only once or twice when there was a storm.


(10) My brother taught me graphic and web design. My brother is an accomplished IT guy. He was a multi-awarded web programmer for Saudi Online. He moved to different companies before becoming head of the IT department of Metrobank. Now he runs a business with his wife Cherry.


About 15 years ago, my brother gave me and my husband Riz a crash course at home on Photoshop. We have since been able to produce many projects.


This website, www.artstylemanila.com, I designed on my own. It may not be as good as my brother's work but I am proud of it and I am thankful for the lessons my brother taught me. Thank you, bro! We love you.


The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Numbers 6: 24-26



My brother Fernando Velarde and I. He walked me down the aisle when my husband Riz Pulumbarit and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in 2019 at the Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati City.


My husband Riz and I with our niece Anya, the only child of our brother Fernando Velarde and his wife Cherry.

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