1. that beautiful hands are those that know how to work
I will be forever glad that when we were kids, she has subjected us to manual chores (dishes, cooking, cleaning the fish, the house, the toilet!), especially that out of 5 children, four of us were girls. This was quite a challenge for her, I know, especially that the social environment we grew up in valued “flawless” beauty that included smooth and unworked hands. Without my early training, I would now be one of those miserable Filipinos who find life abroad cumbersome because calling on “Inday” is such a luxury afforded only by dukes.
2. to be simple.
She did care for beauty but only as much as not giving it more importance than our health (healthy teeth and skin were more important than anything else). Now that I think about it, Maria of the Sound of Music was her role model. She was simple, and yet she stood out. I think that’s how Mama wanted us to understand real beauty – it shines out through one’s simplicity of heart.
3. to be simple. But NOT ordinary
I can still vividly recall how she took time to cover our school notebooks when we were in elementary school. She would recycle some magazines to carve out the letters for our names and paste them on plain paper. I also remember how she loved transforming ordinary and cheap things into something beautiful for the house. She lived a simple life not just because we were poor, but also because she found it unjust to live extravagantly. But more than living simply, she loved being creative with the things we had.
4. to celebrate important days
All birthdays in the house were never missed without a card she bought and passed around for everyone to sign on. When we had a sari-sari store, she would, to our delight, let us each open a bottle of coke every after Sunday mass. Again, we weren’t exactly the most financially endowed family in the neighborhood, yet there was some extra for a lunch at Shakey’s in Skyworld, or the famous Dainty’s restaurant, or when things got better through the years, in Rose Bowl. You would find us there often at the end of a schoolyear when one or two or all of us ended up in the honor roll.
5. the power of the Holy Rosary
Her faith never gave way to her intellectual life. This is hard to explain and prove, but I know that at the core of our family life is the power of her Marian devotion. We were not always the hugging-kissing kind of family, like we bicker and lash out on each other’s faces just as every ordinary family would. But at the end of the day, our values and choices remain bent on what keeps our family whole.
6. that the best thing you can give your child is a good education
She was asked to address the parents of my sister’s graduating batch in Medicine school. To most of them who love to remind their sons and daughters about the expensiveness of their education, my mother said: “Parents, our children do not owe us their education. We owe it to them.” To say that she practiced what she preached is an understatement. She and Papa never raised qualms about having to send us to college, or even postgraduate studies. I guess this is their true measure of success - to be able to provide their children the best education one can ever have.
I share all these in honor of this superwoman this Mother’s day. Mama, thank you and I love you. I hope you see that I try to be the good mother that you are.