Thursday, October 08, 2009


*Shared June 2005 via friendster blogs; photos have just been added.

I’ve been itching wanting to write something about my mother maybe because I can’t tell her directly how much I love her. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my ego. I guess we were just not raised in an environment where being expressive is commonplace, as my mother herself is not demonstrative physically.

Let me tell you more about Nanay. Her parents were both farmers. Theirs was a typical large family in the barrio. Born second in a brood of nine, she took care of her younger siblings. She grew up in a barrio without electricity. She must have been a dreamer as a girl. She knew that nothing would happen to her life if she stayed on in their province. At that time, unlike many young girls who were easily enticed to marrying young boys from their locale just after entering puberty, my mother was wiser and more practical. She went away to find work in another place.

My beautiful mother back in the late '70s.

She met my father while she was living with some relatives in Laguna. I can’t say that marrying my father was a good decision on her part. But, marrying my father was again proof of her sensibility, as my father is an educated man. She finished high school supported by my father and she already had my eldest sister tugging at her skirt when she received her diploma. She also earned some units in college. I don’t know the chronology of events that led to my mother’s working in Manila, while my sisters were left in the care of my grandparents (parents of my father). I was still too young (around four years old then) to comprehend the problems my family was going through.

Pinning a riboon on Ate Jen at her elementary school.

I still have recollections of myself, seated on the steps going up to our small house, waiting for Nanay to come home each day. She took me with her when she decided to reside in Manila. We would come to Laguna every weekend so she could see to my other sisters' needs like washing their clothes. Nanay was practically my world then. I still could remember being scared when she would leave me behind, fearing that something bad might happen to her and she wouldn’t come back. Nanay was my safety then.

Growing up, I’d often hurt myself from riding my bike or from making a run to win a point in games children of my time were fond of playing (patintero, agawan base and the likes). Nanay would carefully treat my wound, and when it hurt real badly that I couldn’t suppress crying, she would also cry seeing me in pain. When the electricity was out, Nanay would patiently fan us while we slept. When I complained about having sore legs from too much playing, Nanay would knead them until they didn’t hurt as much. She would even peel off the shells of quail eggs and boiled peanuts, which I would buy while on the bus going to Manila from Laguna. These things, small they might seem, are etched in my mind. They remind me of one of God’s greatest blessings—that of having my mother.

During my kindergarten field trip.

At a girl scouts' activity. I was in 2nd grade.
At my elementary graduation with my mother standing beside Sen. Nikki Coseteng who donated the medals. Nanay was always dressed well. She is the original fashionista whom my daughter Gabee takes after. :-)

According to my husband, meeting my mother convinced him all the more of his intentions for me when we were still going steady. He thought that being my mother’s daughter, I would naturally take after her traits. Unfortunately, my traits are more often the opposite of my mother’s. I’m cautious and I tend to be pessimistic; Nanay is very optimistic. She takes life one day at a time. She’s pretty much flexible whereas I’m quite rigid about procedures and doing things the right way. She doesn’t have the patience for budgeting but she knows how to raise money when needed (“madiskarte”).

I am too organized compared to her; I keep count of my expenses. Each of my expenses is entered into my excel spreadsheets which I update regularly. I have quite an orderly filing of my receipts, doctors’ prescriptions, and important documents, while Nanay has her records scattered all over the house.

But, if there’s one thing I would like to attribute to her, it would be that of having a good heart. Her nephews and nieces, who came to Manila for their college education, could vouch for her kindness and generosity. She was their “Kakang Belen” they would go to when they were short of money to enroll or when their parents in the province were unable to send their allowances on time, or when they were into any mishaps.

She raised us not in a typical manner whereby a parent tells his/her child what’s good and what’s not, what should be done and what should not be done. I couldn’t remember any instance that she told me to do a particular thing because it was right. Her style was more of the free-wheeling type. She let us decide for ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. I also couldn’t remember being spanked or shouted at by her. (Well, maybe at one time or another, she must have spanked me or shouted at me, but those times must have been very rare as I couldn’t recall them anymore).

I guess Nanay raised us doing what was right, not telling us what was right. And by her example, we naturally developed into what we have become—mature, responsible adults. No one among her four daughters (myself included) gave her a cause for any heartbreak whatsoever. How could we?

I love you, Nay!!! Thanks for everything! I hope I’d be able to raise my children the way you have raised me, Ate Arlene, Ate Jen and Diane.

At Universal Studios Singapore, 2010.

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