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'Ayoko Maging Sagabal'–Panganays Are Crying Over Dimples' Surprise Visit To Firstborn in Australia
  • Dimples Romana left many netizens teary-eyed when she recently posted a video on her Instagram that documented her surprise visit to her firstborn, Callie. Her daughter is currently based in Australia taking up Aviation Management at Southern Cross University in Australia. 

    “SURPRISE,” went the actress’s Instagram post, punctuating it with a sniffling emoji. “@callieahmee is my first born, my rock, my anchor and ever since she left for college (to) stay here in Australia, I’ve been having bad homesickness from not seeing her plus terrible postpartum blues pa,” she wrote. 

    Dimples shared that the odds were stacked against her and Callie “being together” because she had just given birth to her third child, Ellio while her middle child, Alonzo, has just started big school. Dimples wanted so bad to be in Australia in time to witness her daughter’s ‘milestone as a student pilot.’  

    “…Ultimately we didn’t want Ate to feel that, just because a lot of things have been happening in Manila for our new family set up, that she wasn’t a priority anymore and that we can’t be there for her just the same way we’ve always been when she was little up until the time she left for college,” she wrote.


    Panganay blues

    Apart from the touching mother-daughter reunion, what resonated with many netizens was Dimples’ post about what it sometimes means to be the eldest in the family.  “Ate din ako, panganay, at kadalasan even if I wanted to say I needed my family more, I won’t say it,” she wrote.  

    “Lagi ko kasing iniisip na baka mas kailangan ng mga kapatid ko. Hindi pa mandin nagsasalita itong anak naming ‘to. She’d rather keep it to herself than tell us she needs us. Napakabait,” her post went.  

    RELATED: ‘I Was Made To Believe I Couldn’t Be A Good Mom’: Dimples Recalls Being Judged As A Young Mom

    “Literally crying for this,” one netizen commented.  “I didn’t get to experience this [being the] eldest too but I will not complain, rather [I will] make you both as an inspiration when I get to have my own family. You really make motherhood so inspiring.”

    Another IG follower wrote: “Thank you for being intentional you are about being there for your eldest considering you had a new baby. Kudos to you and you husband.” 

    Others who said they were also the eldest in their family expressed their support for Dimples. “I’m also a panganay, so I knew it when you said I’d rather not be a bother. A mother whom we need more. Hugs po,” wrote one.  

    “…I'm also the eldest in our family and I really feel how this moment is so special especially to your daughter who's chasing her dreams far from home. So much love and appreciation to your whole family,” another follower commented.  

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    One netizen couldn’t help but be moved to tears, “Ay grabe. Napaluha naman ako. Akala ko ako lang nakakaramdam. I'm also the eldest in the family and I can relate to that,” she posted. 

    Another mom said she is anticipating the same emotions Dimples feels once her eldest graduates from high school. “Ganito magiging feelings ko pag bumukod na ng bahay yung panganay kong anak na babae pagka graduate niya ng highschool. Either mag vocational siya or mag college. Super lambing at sobrang pasensyosa at always telling me mama aishiteru yo (i love you),” she wrote. 

    Pressure on panganays

    What does it mean to be a firstborn? As Dimples post implies, the eldest child is usually the first to make sacrifices for the sake of the family. This cultural expectation among firstborns is, of course, not exclusive to Filipino families but is also present in many south and east Asian families, even among Asian-American immigrants. 


    According to a study in 2018 “Asian-American families may rely more heavily on the firstborn than their counterparts for various reasons.” 

    In part, such reliance on firstborns stems from parents’ tendency to compare their children, the study added. Interestingly, it also noted that while, traditionally, older sons have the greater obligations in the family, more firstborn females are taking on these roles.

    RELATED: We Predict Your First Child Will Be Well-Behaved, Even Over-Responsible

    Pressure in Filipino families

    In many Filipino families, not only are firstborns expected to set a good example for their younger siblings and share in the responsibility of taking care of them but, in many instances, they are obliged to help with the family’s finances, some even becoming the sole breadwinners.  

    While some panganays are more than happy to support their parents and siblings once they begin earning, others are weighed down by a culture that automatically puts pressure on them to help their families, especially financially. This is the reason why support groups such as Panganay Support Group on Reddit and Panganay Diaries and Panganay Problems on Facebook were created so firstborns have an outlet to vent the struggles they experience within their families and get support and advise from people in the same situation.

    Reading these groups’ posts, feelings of guilt, resentment, and a sense of being trapped are a common thread that run through their stories. We’ve gathered some ‘rants’ and summed them here: 

    • Sacrificing their dreams such as postponing getting a college degree or delaying marriage to work instead so they can send siblings to school
    • Pushing aside plans of buying something for themselves to use the money to pay for house bills 
    • As breadwinners, they are first to feel the impact of inflation on their earnings
    • Scrimping on personal expenses so they can go ‘all out’ for members of the family
    • Carrying an “I can’t give up yet. Panganay ako” mindset 
    • Wishing to tell their parents that they should have planned their future better so they don’t see their children as their ‘retirement plan’
    • Postponing plans of moving out of the house and living on their own because they feel they are being ‘selfish’
    • Finding themselves adopting their mom’s usual mantra, “Akala niyo pinupulot lang ang pera!’

    Are you the eldest in your family, too?  Can you relate to these sentiments?


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