Growing up, my mother was very much involved in my education. She taught me and my siblings before we began attending school, and once we began school, she would always find time to make sure we did our homework and reviewed what we had learned. I remember learning a lot from listening to her as she taught my older siblings. By the time I was old enough to go to school, I was ready to learn even more.
When I was about 10 years old, I had the opportunity to teach my younger brother like my mother used to teach me. He needed to study for a test, but my mother had to attend to something else. She asked me to assist my six-year-old brother instead.
At first, I was excited about the task. I sat beside my brother and went through the lessons with him. I tried to imitate my mom’s careful and methodical way of teaching. We alternated reading and reviewing; I asked him questions, and he told me the answers. The process went on for about an hour.
Toward the end of our study session, I started to get a little bored. I already knew all the information we were covering, and I didn’t really feel like going over it anymore. Thankfully, we were finished soon after that. As we began to pack everything away, I saw some photos of the Chocolate Hills in one of my brother’s textbook.
The Chocolate Hills are a group of unusually shaped hills in the Philippines. They are one of the most famous tourist attracts in the country. There are more than a thousand of the small hills, and they range from being between 30 and 50 meters tall. As most Filipino students learn in their first year of grade school, these famous hills are called the “Chocolate” Hills because they are covered with green grass that turns chocolate brown during the dry season.
When I saw the pictures of the Chocolate Hills, I got excited. I directed my brother’s attention toward them and asked, “Do you know why they are called the Chocolate Hills?” My brother thought about my question for a moment and then asked me why.
Since I love chocolate, and since I was tired of studying, I decided to have a little fun. I explained that they were called the Chocolate Hills because there were a lot of cacao trees planted on them. Then I explained how the cacao beans are processed and turned into chocolate.
He was satisfied with the answer (it involved chocolate!), and we called it a night.
The next day, my brother came home from school upset. When my mom asked him why, he said that he had gotten one of the multiple choice questions wrong on his test because of what I had told him when we were studying. The question asked why the famous Chocolate Hills were referred to as Chocolate Hills, and one of the choices was about the numerous cacao trees planted. He had excitedly picked that answer—and he had gotten it wrong.
When I got home later that afternoon, my mom corrected me for lying to my brother. She explained that a child will believe whatever you tell him, whether you meant what you said or not. She asked me to put myself in his shoes—how would I feel if an older sibling lied to me? That hit the lesson home.
The Ninth Commandment tells us that we should never lie (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20). What I told my brother was supposed to be a joke. I was just being playful. But I never explained the joke to him, so he believed that what I told him was the truth. Essentially, I lied to my younger brother, and he had to pay the consequences for that by missing a question on his test.
After I realized what I had done, I felt ashamed. The big sister should set the right example. She needs to be trustworthy. I hadn’t acted like the proper big sister I was supposed to be. I broke my brother’s trust in me, and it took him a long time to trust me again. It was a painful situation, but it taught me a valuable lesson that I treasure to this day: Always tell the truth.