I have a 17-year old niece, Dinaniel, who’ll be 18 in October. She has made it plainly clear to me she doesn’t want a Filipino husband. Perhaps it’s because of all the years she’s been around me, but I can’t be sure about anything. I’ve been somewhat of a substitute father for her for most of the years I’ve lived here (I just passed 10 years) but it started even before that. Her father died in 2001, when she was still on her way to reaching the age of four.
Dinaniel lives in my compound, in one of the bedrooms of my mother-in-law’s house (which I actually own, but that’s another story). Her mother lives elsewhere with a boyfriend she acquired after her husband died. Her mother works, but barely makes enough money to take care of herself.
It’s her fault, of course. Dinaniel stopped going for a couple of years and in the meantime, the Philippines altered the educational requirements. Before, it was six years elementary and four years high school. If she hadn’t stopped, she would already be a high school graduate. Now, they have this K-12 thing going on. I don’t know the breakdown, but it adds up to 13 years instead of 10. Regardless, my niece still has three years to go. I’m not sure, but I think she’ll be 20 when she graduates.
Josie (my wife) and I plan to host her “debut” party for her 18th birthday, but plans don’t always work out. We don’t call her Dinaniel. We call her by the nickname her father gave her, but I don’t know how to spell it (something like “kahn-kahn”). It’s not completely the same. The pronunciation has evolved over the years.
She takes a lot of pictures of herself, usually with her female cousins in the background. She isn’t my only niece and she isn’t even the oldest, but she’s the oldest living in the compound. The next oldest is 15. The rest of the children have living parents. Anyway… she likes taking pictures of herself, with a mobile phone I gave her months ago.
My niece isn’t the most beautiful girl in the world, but she’s still prettier than most of the girls in this neighborhood. If she lets you friend her on Facebook, you can find her at https://www.facebook.com/boxzkhangzliet (old) or https://www.facebook.com/dinaniel.militante (new). When and if you get access, you may see hundreds of pictures of her going back a few years. Of course, you’ll have to be patient. She doesn’t have WiFi access anymore – only me, Josie and Cathy (the daughter-in-law who hijacks my phone everyday) have WiFi access.
Dinaniel doesn’t smoke, drink, or go out on dates. She has no interest in drugs or getting wild with people she doesn’t know. She spends 95 percent of her time either at home or at school. The other five percent includes the time she spends visiting her mother or shopping for the things she needs (which comes out of my pocket, not her mother’s).
I’m very fond of my niece, as I am with all of my nieces. If you have what it takes to interest her, more power to you. But if you start a relationship and then break her heart, I’ll break your face. It’s really that simple.
She’s at the left of each of these photos (she’s nearly as tall as I am, taller than the average Filipina):
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