Perhaps, majority of us must have heard about the parable of the prodigal son. It was about a father's unwavering support for his wayward son, no matter how long it took for the latter to come to realization that he got lost and had to return home. The said father and son story was published many centuries ago and it was reported in a form of an allegory. It didn't actually happen but what is ironic about it is that after many centuries have passed, almost all of us have a so-called black sheep in the family, like that of the prodigal son. It could happen to either one of us, our brothers or sisters or perhaps the only son or daughter in the family.
With all the enjoyment and the pleasures in life these days, it may be observed that in all parts of the globe, there were and there are factual incidents regarding children giving headaches to their parents, so to speak, due to wrong values (e.g. disobedience and stubbornness), leading to the parents life of sorrows and sufferings. One example is this real story below which I would like to share with you.
Let's call the child “Nieves” for confidentiality. Nieves is the only child of a middle-class senior loving couple living in suburbs. Being the only child, the couple was able to give her all the comforts in life since childhood until she reached her teenage years. She was sent to high standing reputable schools, from grade school to college life. The couple never missed the opportunity to be good parents to her as far as discipline is concerned. However, in her teens, everything turned upside down. Nieves was already problematic, she showed tantrums whenever her parents couldn't deliver the material things she wants. She would squander all the money intended for her tuition fees and allowances to partying, clubbing and experimenting on illegal drugs with her female and male friends. To make the story short, the young lady obviously wasn't able to finish her schooling and to make matters worse she got pregnant which made her parents very frustrated. She was a pain in the neck especially to her father who has already given up on her as he became so ill and that he could no longer sustain the day to day living of the family. Subsequently, the father died due to lingering illness, leaving her mom to look after her.
Accustomed to city life and always in the company of happy-go-lucky friends, Nieves easily wins friends especially with men. It was during this time that she bore another child and finally another three with different fathers and all out of wedlock. The irresponsible fathers of her children left her with no alimony to speak of , leaving her with five kids to support by herself. All these times, the mother of Nieves acted as both her father and mother and that of her 5 youngsters. Even with kids in tow, Nieves maintained her escapades at a certain level, and her mother while continuously reminding of her responsibilities, would refrain from further discourse about the matter so as to avoid arguments and making Nieves upset. Instead, she was always there on her side, and tried to understand the situation. Their neighbors had even advised the mother to leave Nieves but she couldn't because it was more agonizing for her to leave her daughter and grand children in such a miserable state.
Apart from being the homekeeper, Nieves mother had to accept additional odd jobs (e.g. washing clothes, etc.) to continue their daily living, She actually became the breadwinner of the family, in her late 60's. Nieves was a little help but it was not just enough, she was not used to a life of misery.
One time, Nieves candidly told her Mom she's leaving them to seek for a job with a promise to be back as soon as she's able to save money for their needs. While for the neighbors the said move could have been the most appropriate and should have been done by Nieves long time ago, it was not the same case as her Mother's. That moment was the saddest part of Nieves' mother's life as it seemed to her that the probability for Nieves to be back that soon could be remote, knowing her. She was truly concerned of the plight of her daughter, even at that time.
Several months have passed, still no word from Nieves. Now, three years later, and still the mother has not heard any news from her. The mother, in her daughter's stead, had been lovingly and painstakingly taking care of her grandchildren sans the moral and financial support from her own treasured daughter. She endured the many hardships and the struggles in order to provide them with at least some food to eat. Frail and sickly, the mother with the help of the the kids (the youngest of them is 5 yrs. old) are now dependent on the kind assistance from her neighbors, by doing some errands and other menial tasks for other people. When asked by the social worker if she has at least a tiny grudge on her daughter, she said nothing. Rather, she told her that having Nieves is the biggest happiness in her entire life. Her love for her daughter never falters and it's still there, embedded in her heart. She's going to wait for her for the rest of her life, God willing, as she really believes that someday Nieves will come back to them someday, with a renewed heart.
Not all parents are blessed with wonderful doting children. But all parents, in their right minds, would always want the best for their children. Our parents, especially our mothers serve as light to us, they mold and sharpen us to be better persons.
Humans as we are, however, we encounter shortcomings and failings in life. It is for us to formulate our own strategies on how to have a better family life. We are responsible for what we are, for what we do. But, it's not too late yet to rectify the said shortcomings and to reconcile again with our loved ones.
For Nieves, if you happen to read this blog, I hope and pray, you will have the heart and the conscience to be more sensitive to other people's needs, especially that of your mother and five children. They need you especially during these moments of your mother's life. Don't wait for the time that it would be too late for you to see your loved ones still full of life. Just like the father of the prodigal son, surely your mother and children would welcome you wholeheartedly with open arms!
Below are mother's day cards designed by the awesome kids in one of the schools, here at NYC. To all mothers and grandmothers in the world, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY !!!
For my Mom who is in heaven now, Happy Mother's Day to you Inay!
Hey look at this, one 10-yr. old child even wrapped his own designed card for his mom with a paper. Such a very thoughtful and resourceful child. He wants the best for his mom! Such lucky mom!
In view of the difficulties that most of us are facing these trying times, one way of making Easter more meaningful and memorable to children, is by celebrating it in a non-traditional way. Gathering and telling them the story about Jesus' Resurrection, with a 30-minute movie animation on the subject as part of the presentation can be explored. In so doing, the kids would be able to understand pretty well why and what happened to Jesus during His last days on earth. There are a bunch of DVDs and CD's for kids available in the market. Just make sure that what you get is the most appropriate for young ones. One example is the movie, entitled "He Is Risen", like this one.
After watching the said Easter movie, treat them with a light afternoon snack for that extra boost of energy and thereafter assign an Easter Bunny mascot to distribute some goodies as part of the treat. As an e-friendly alternative for “plastic egg” hunting activities, you can hold an Easter card-making fun contest and whoever makes the best will bag the top prize. But of course, all of them shall receive something in return. Easter greeting card making is more educational and at the same time a means of forming the values of the kids at a young age. Making and giving away signature cards (wherein construction papers, markers, crayons are the only materials needed) to brighten the day of someone on Easter, like their parents or their loved ones, are some of the activities worth considering.
Take a peek at what the kids did for their Lenten and Easter promises. Some of them promised to be a good girl, to leave videogames (maybe during school days), not to fight with their brothers even if the latter are still mean to them, to help their parents in the household chores and more.
Wow, awesome kids! Enjoy and Happy Easter to one and all!
While I was excited on the first snow fall, especially at Christmas time, the blizzard warning for the East Coast was something to be worried about. I was correct as the projected 11 to 16 inches of snow was actually much heavier ranging from 17 to 31 inches within the tri-state area ( New Jersey, New York and Connecticut) and affected thousands of people.
According to tri-media reports, yesterday's blizzard left thousands of families with no power and electricity, operation of major airports and railways were shut down stranding so many passengers and official and business establishments have been closed, crippling the economy at least for a day.
(car dumped under the snow-photo property of myusefultips.com)
(lower part of house covered with snow/photo property of myusefultips.com)
The magnitude of the snowstorm was so enormous, as a matter of fact, a photo of it was taken from NASA’s satellite focusing on the Washington, D.C. area.
So far, the Christmas blizzard which hit NYC was one of the biggest in the city’s blizzard history. In our area, we had to plow the snow falls from our front, sides and back yards.
(My foot/snow shoe stuck on a snow hole)
While there were ill effects on some of the residents and travelling visitors of NYC, the snow fall accumulation gave the teens and kids who are now in their winter breaks together with their families the opportunity to go to nearby parks and enjoy playing in the snow with their sled, just like what others did!
(the following photos are property of myusefultips.com)
During our childhood days, some of us may have been taught by our first teachers about the virtue of Faith. We’ve learned then that there are three basic tenets why human beings are created by God: to know, to love and to serve HIM. As years passed, the more we've learned more things and gained experiences, the more the said tenets are taken for granted and kept back to experiment and cherish on “material” things (e.g. love of money, career, achievements, prestige, honor, self acclaim, etc.) which act as decoys of the evil spirits to drive us away from focusing on making our lives more meaningful in the eyes of God.
However, when things go awry in our journey to life, normally we tend to reflect and ponder on the things we did and eventually on our relationship with God. That is somehow the time we only think about our duties and responsibilities as God’s children and start renewing our lives. We often rationalize whatever we do, good or bad. But I dont discount the fact that most of the time, humans as we are, we do have weaknesses, we are susceptible to mistakes. The only good thing is that we are able to rise up and change for the better. This is precisely what God wants from us, to turn back to HIM and be His faithful friend. As a matter of fact, even the holy men and women who are now in heaven have committed wrong doings during their earthly lives. God serves as our safety net, literally, whenever we fall. But of course, not all of us are like Mary Magdalene, there are some who have lived their lives to the best of their abilities and have been faithful to God without giving much their neighbors a headache, so to speak. And there are still lots of men and women who are exceptional and have dedicated their lives to God in this modern world, one of whom was Mother Teresa.
Life’s uncertainties, trials and tribulations make us learn to realize that there is God who makes us strong and who walks through with us. As the saying goes, God Knows Best. He is always there to provide us the right solutions to our problems, to comfort us, to give us everything we need, perhaps not immediate and outright but there will always be an answer and undoubtedly the best ones for us.
One of the hardest trials that befall us is the loss of a loved one, could be a close member of the family, a relative or a friend. When my parents died, it was the saddest days of my life. It was hard to cope without them and the reality that they will no longer be around to talk to, to share stories and laugh with, to always be there to support me, no matter what. But because of my faith and trust in God, I simply thought that they are in a much better and happier place than on earth. It is hard to explain but this would require the gift of faith to deal and accept this sad reality of life, regardless of one’s religion and belief.
Two days ago, a new friend in his early 30’s succumbed to death after a lingering illness. He was a very supportive member when he used to be with one of the groups in the local community. Actually, I relied on him as far as their voice group is concerned as he was the youngest among them. He was a bit strict, a good trait for a member though, he saw to it that he comes early for meetings cum rehearsals. For the brief duration of his stay with the group, he showed his sincere and true dedication to the service. In fact, he was so generous to share his time, talent and treasure, even if he was busy with his family and work. I understand, he was just starting his family life and building his career when the illness hit him. As mentioned in my previous blog, he fulfilled some of the wish lists for the group’s use and we're truly grateful for that. He also volunteered to assist in the logistics preparation, e.g. printing, reproduction of needed materials. If I remember right, the last time we saw each other, he huggged me to say that he'll definitely be back and join the group, once he's okay. Although his relationship with the group was short-lived, his good deeds and kindness remain. I believe God will open the doors of heaven for him and I pray that he will be accepted as one of the choir members in heaven joyfully singing and praising our Creator together with St. Cecilia and the angelic voices of the seraphims and the cherubims.
While it is hard to curb the loneliness and acknowledge the pain of the loss, particularly for the living members of the family who have loved the departed person so much, there are always ways and means to heal the painful journey of grief. It may take a while, may be a long and forever process, but the happy memories of the person who’s gone may likewise give comfort to the grieving family. Turning to God during these times will provide relief, serenity, and spiritual support.
For those who are presently experiencing difficulties and sorrows in life, in any form, below is a video of a beautiful song which encourages everyone to lift up their hands to God and that everything will be alright.
Unlike in other countries, Thanksgiving Day (T-Day for short or Turkey Day as others candidly call it) is a grand holiday in the U.S. where members of the family, relatives and friends get the chance to gather together to celebrate the said day. It is a non-working holiday primarily to commemorate the early American settlers celebration and give thanks to the Almighty God for the blessings such as abundant harvest, religious freedom, and better life, among others.
This is one of the holidays which I particularly like, not to mention the yummy meal (the famous roast turkey with the sumptuous stuffing and all) and the glamorous Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade, and gosh being just one of the spectators is already a blessing considering the traffic and the large crowd!
(photos property of www.myusefultips.com)
(photos property of www.myusefultips.com)
Watching the parade may be considered small-deal to some but for me, even if I see it only on TV, it makes me happy. I feel like a kid in a candy store! Why? Because at the end of the parade, there is a float of St. Nick or Santa Klaus on his sled and this reminds me that Christmas holiday is in the air!
Days before the T-Day, people are busy shopping for holiday gifts and preparing the menu list, and as much as possible the best dish for the Thanksgiving table. As such, allocating one special day for the entire family to sit down and have good conversation, enjoy the food and be grateful for all the good things bestowed upon by the Creator is indeed an admirable family tradition.
What makes this holiday unique in the U.S. compared to other countries is that the T-Day is normally held on the fourth Thursday of November and that the day after that called “Black Friday” and the Monday next to it, tagged as “Cyber Monday” ensue. Black Friday (or BF) and Cyber Monday (CM) are quite interrelated. These days seem to kick-off the shopping activities either on-line (internet) and in-stores for the Christmas and holiday season, sort of a shopping madness! I was amazed to know that big time U.S. retailers open their stores as early as 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning which means that people will have to wake up early or in the case of the "BF extremists" or should I say enthusiasts, they would camp out two days or a day before the said day just to be first in the line in order to luckily get hefty discount tickets for the very limited much sought after items. Hey, this is true! In fact, I know some people who are really an avid fan of “BF” and they’re fortunate enough to buy the items they much like and if they decide not to use it, they’ll keep it for years unused or sell it on-line for a much higher price, a bonanza on their side! They just love BF and are always looking forward to it. I would think that the effort of experiencing reduced sleeps, the agony of long lines and cold winter chills, and the waiting time paid off as far as they’re concerned as they seem to be in heaven on the seventh floor, so to speak, after the tiring event! Yes, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, likes and dislikes but that’s kind of weird and amazing at the same time!
In hindsight, the enormous buying and selling activities during these days can be seen as innovative way to stimulate the U.S. sagging economy. Likewise, I don’t see anything wrong with the challenge and fun in participating at “BF” and “CM” events especially if there is a need for the things on sale.
However, the holiday is not just about food, the merriment, and the material things, it is more about gratitude. The spirit and essence of Thanksgiving Day which supposedly should be a day to thank God and share the blessings to the many, especially those who have none, may have been lost as after thanking God, there’s a tendency for us to acquire more material things even if we don’t really need it. How beautiful it would be to know and see that all of us, especially the affluent ones share our time, talent and treasures to those in need, outside our family box. Perhaps, instead of buying additional new things for ourselves, for our family members and relatives who are equally or richer than us, we can buy food for the poor or donate needed things for them.
When we thank God for all the blessings received , it means we are grateful for what He has given us and presumably He would be glad to see us share our blessings to others too not only during Thanksgiving Day but throughout the year. God is Love and Love is God. We cannot love ourselves if we don’t love our neighbors, if we only think of ourselves. There are so many ways to be grateful and it does not end with a “thank you” note or a hug, it has to be more than that, it has to be accompanied with an appreciation and a good deed . I know it is easier said than done, especially if we treasure most what we have. Similarly, if peace and happiness reign in our hearts, we would easily be able to share said happiness to our family and friends. If there are personal grudges and enmities among the members of the family, it would be good if the same can be resolved at once. It may be hard to swallow the pride in us, thus may take a lot of sacrifice, but the gesture of going out of our way to sincerely greet the other person would also be a perfect way of thanking God and celebrating Thanksgiving Day!
For the special people in my life, thank you all! Mwah!
For good health, long life and happiness, for world peace and unity among all nations (despite the rifts in other countries), for the beautiful world, our Mother Earth, for all creations, living and non-living things, THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH GOD!!!!!!!!
For my awesome readers, thank you so much for your time, for another wonderful holiday! Happy Thanksgviing to all! Enjoy your shopping hopefully not only for yourself but for everyone especially those in need!
The following video is a song which perfectly and briefly summarizes what I just wrote. Kindly listen….
While discussions on any related sex education issues can be quite complex and challenging to some ordinary people like me, I just couldn’t sit down and keep mum about it especially when it’s being widely debated by various sectors of society in third world and developing economies. Originating from a developing country and as part of my responsibility in the blogosphere, I felt I should share my thoughts on the subject with the end view of providing practical tips on how matured individuals, parents in particular, can discuss and educate the young ones about the “s” (short term for sex) word. Conversely, this blog will put aside, as much as possible, the more controversial issues affecting the subject such as political, moral, and emotional aspect of it as the same would require a comprehensive and empirical analysis to support any position taken.
Years ago, I have been involved in some community development on certain weekends, visiting areas where city’s informal dwellers stand, specifically teaching kids on various things in life. One time while we were discussing about guardian angels, an 11-year old girl asked me if I have a guardian angel and if so, what’s her name. Excited about her enthusiasm and the inquisitive faces of the other children, more or less of same age group, I gladly responded that I gave my guardian angel a name of “Maria Goretti”, which I got from one of my favorite saints, St. Maria Goretti. Since they don’t have any idea who the Saint was, I told them briefly about her story. I remember, one significant part of St. Maria Goretti’s life story is that she’s one of the martyrs and the youngest saints (12-yr old) in history, as she died from multiple stab wounds inflicted by the rapist after she refused him because of her strong faith in God. I didn’t expect any follow-up question after that because I made it as simple and direct as it should be. However, she asked me unknowingly, “what is a rapist or rape?”. At first, I was taken aback as I didn’t know how to define the said terms in its proper context taking into account their naivety on the subject, culture and beliefs and without mentioning as much as possible the “s” word . Nonetheless, I tried to compose myself and I thought I was able to explain it to them rightfully, but with the observation that at their young age and with innocent minds, they were already interested to know more on the subject.
Partly educated in a private school run by group of nuns, I recall our teacher on religion/theology (part of which is a curriculum tagged as responsible parenthood) didn’t really tackle much on this matter. I wouldn’t say it was taboo at that time but it was typically a non-subject similar to other schools. We were not aware of any policies but we could only surmise that probably teaching the subject especially in elementary, middle or high schools could have been within the realm of the parents’ role and responsibility. It was presumed that the parents were able to establish an open and honest relationship with their kids and discuss all the realities of life, including the “s” word. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the case. It wasn’t happening at all in almost all of the households. It could either be that parents were busy looking for food to eat on the table, so to speak, or the children were hesitant or ashamed to consult related matters with their parents or vise versa. Despite the lack or the absence of a systematic or methodical approach of such education, however, the parents have not been remiss of reminding their children about the do’s and don’ts, particularly on love, courtship and marriage. Parents then were very emphatic on the norms of responsible parenthood, i.e. that a sexual act can only be done by husbands and wives. Thus, it was seldom seen that an 11-year old or a teen ager had engaged or can freely engage in pre-marital sex. On the other hand, in the case of matured and adult children who under the law were considered as able to manage their own affairs, it was another story. Exploring or even to the extent of engaging in said affairs seemed to have been discretionary on their part. Parents would normally say: “You’re old enough, you know what’s right or wrong, you know what to do”!
The foregoing narrative, based on my experience and encounters with people from all walks of life, may imply that even without a comprehensive sex education in middle (primary) and high schools at that time, the student kids or children then have learned to normally adapt to the situation as they grow older, armed with their parents’ wisdom and conscience to boot.
Don’t get me wrong, I am neither timid, squeamish nor narrow minded. As a matter of fact, I can be pragmatic and liberal in many ways. I recognize the fact that nowadays, unfortunately the kids and teens throughout the world are presently being bombarded with all the “lures” and “pressures” either from peers, tri-media, internet, social networking, or in worst case a degree of some bad influence from family members, relatives and friends. As such, there are more and more young adults (in their 15’s, 18’s or in early 20’s) being tempted to do these things not being aware of the painful and lifelong consequences (e.g. ailments related to sex like HIV, AIDS., unwanted pregnancies, not being able to graduate high or college schools) they will have to face after the fact. This is not only true to young girls but to young boys as well and these would have adverse repercussion on their personal well being and family relationships. I also recognize the job of Governments and the United Nations for that matter “to respect and protect the rights of girls and boys to comprehensive information regarding their health and their bodies.” In fact, I consider their advocacies and policies worth noting as far as human rights are concerned. In the same manner, I recognize and understand the concerns of religious groups and the relevance of their teachings as they too have moral obligations to impart to their congregation/parishioners what is right and wrong based on certain laws, rules and regulations handed down from generation to generation.
In developed and industrialized countries such as the United States, majority of US students (from Grade 7 or earlier to high school) receive formal sex education in schools from a more comprehensive (which includes safe sex practices) to abstinence only. There are cases where “s” education is an option and parents can excuse their children from the subject class taking into account the student’s family’s heritage and beliefs. It has been observed however that even if armed with this kind of education, studies indicate that more young students still fail to protect themselves from predators or yet still found themselves being victims of sexual related activities. Why is this so? Why is sex education been found to be ineffective in some parts of the world? There are schools of thoughts but I don’t have any concrete response to this. Perhaps, this is an area where scholars could try looking at considering all the aspects (e.g. values and morals, religious, political, economic, emotional , etc.) of it. There may be an impact study already undertaken on this matter and it would be good if the same can be brought into the doors of the proper authorities or any Governments contemplating to implement for the first time said education program, so it could potentially serve as basis for policy formulation
PRACTICAL HELPFUL TIPS
Thus, in my own little way, here are some common and practical tips on how parents can talk to their kids about the subject, regardless of whether or not their kids are receiving sex education in school:
1. Mold kids early. Explain and instill values (modesty, decency, good manners, etc.), morals and religious doctrines in children by the time they reach the age of reason, i.e. 7 years old, or thereabouts. Explain also the wisdom and importance behind it and why said values are being held and followed, but never present it in such a way that their lives are based on a bunch of stringent rules. There’s no need to go through graphic details as young minds can not grasp the ramifications of any sexual behavior. It could be told to them in an indirect fashion. This is where parents are needed because sometimes in schools, the teachers though they are technically well-equipped, they may not be able to provide these aspects.
2. Establish close bonding with kids. As mentioned earlier, it is the parents’ primary responsibility to rear and nurture their kids so they’ll become good individuals. This can be done by creating a friendly and open environment at home through love, respect and affection between the parents and children. With this kind of family relationship, it would be easier for parents to talk about private issues (including the “s” word) with their kids or vise versa. In fact, parents can emphasize or tell their children that they can actually discuss with them about their crushes, infatuations and the like.
3. Act as role model. Set an example to your kids. There’s an old saying: “Like Mother, like daughter” or “like father, like son”. There are so many aspects in life that kids see you as their perfect example or a hero to them. Thus, parents should always be on guard on their actions, even how minute it could be.
4. Be visible/Get involved in school related activities. Participating in school related activities like the PTA would provide more or less parents some feedback from the teachers on how kids are doing in school and at the same time parents would have an idea on school’s policies, including sex education.
5. Seek assistance from experts – If parents are facing difficulty in educating their children about the subject, it is always better to consult the more knowledgeable and the right people. In terms of religious related matters, you can always seek the advice of a spiritual director or if it is more on the terminologies regarding the subject, a weekend school teacher may be good to see, or may be an aunt or an uncle whom the kids highly regard can be approached to help too.
However, we can’t deny the fact that there are parents all over the world who have not attained secondary or higher education or have not ever gone through a formal education at all, particularly those in the rural areas, and this could be the dilemma. Therefore, I would say that instead of educating the children in schools, why not educate the parents themselves (e.g. right words to use, etc.)? Matured individuals as they are, the wisdom behind said education could be shared properly with their kids in the confinements of their homes. I think this is more prudent and logical thing to do. Just sharing my thoughts!
Having said all of the foregoing, I trust said tips would be able to help you in child formation/education. Please share with me your ideas, experiences on the subject and if you have any comments or objections, alert me ….don’t worry I won’t argue with you! Exercise your right of free speech!
In the U.S. and in certain parts of the globe, Mother’s day is normally celebrated every 2nd Sunday of May each year. Thus, Mother’s day in 2010 falls on the 9th of May. However, in other countries, Mother’s day is commemorated at different times of the year. Some observe it as early as February, others in March and October, and would you believe others in December! While there may be reasons for celebrating various dates for Mother’s day, I could only surmise that this is probably because Mothers should be loved and appreciated not only for one day but each day of the year. Besides, motherhood is a 24/7 pro bono thankless job, it’s a lifetime responsibility!
Last March, I wrote an article on International Women’s Day wherein I mentioned in passing about my mother as an epitome of an ideal homemaker and an empowered woman in her own right. In fact, in some related write ups, I also noted certain factual events referring to my mother. That is how I would want to show to the whole wide world how our parents, especially my mother have molded us in our younger years to become better persons despite their absence when their children had to move out and stay in another place for higher studies and greener pastures. The shadow of our mother was always there to remind us of the do’s and don’ts even if she's not physically present to guide us in our daily chores.
Supposedly, I should be giving you some useful tips on how to celebrate Mother’s day, or I should have been providing you some practical tips to make Mothers happy on the said day or which awesome cool gifts Mothers would really love. Unfortunately, I won't do it this time. Rather, I would allot this space in recalling my Mom since childhood days whom I’ve truly loved and missed a lot. This is in honor of her relentless performance and wonderful achievements, being a wife and a mother. I have always been so sentimental when it comes to my Mom. As a matter of fact, while I was composing this blog, I couldn't help but cry, with tears kept flowing down my cheeks.
So, let me share with you my reminiscence of my mother, my siblings’ mother, how she fared as far as motherhood is concerned.
Basically, our mother was a beautiful woman with simple wants and needs. Coming from the countryside and far from the hustle and bustle of city life, she devoted most of her time rearing her 9 children, making us, her family, a priority even if she had other things to do on her own – her means of living and the like. She had served as the disciplinarian in the family in contrast to my father who was busy earning a living.. But mind you, my father was equally a loving and caring father –he played with us, joked with us, he was more of an extrovert type of person, so to speak. He was loved by people, by his comrades, by his lawn tennis mates, and oh yes, by his social drinking buddies! The truth is, I can write so many anecdotes and amazing experiences about my Dad. Sorry, Dad I had to mention this….I know you’ve loved us, even up to now, I can feel it in my heart.
Here are some of my recollections of my mother’s persona:
1.Our mother was selfless, very kind hearted generous woman yet tough and strict.
I remember when we're still kids, my mother would have to gather us to pray the Angelus every 6 pm each day and wouldn’t start the prayer if one is missing in the group. If someone is not around and is still playing outside with friends, she would go out of the door and had this amazing way of calling us. It sounded like a twit of a bird or a whistling sound which we knew that it was her, that it was time for us to be home. I’m not sure if my siblings would still remember these things. It’s sort of a bit funny or could be the sweetest sound but it was also of a concern because I knew there was an accompanying responsibility and at times a price we had to pay for not being at home on time! And believe me when we prayed, we couldn't just sit anywhere and participate in the praying, we had to be with the group and kneel down just what she did. Otherwise, we would get a word of caution or warning from her!
As a very kind hearted woman, she was so accommodating to anyone, especially the lowly and oppressed, knocking on our door begging for food and clothes. She would invite them inside, fed them and gave them out slightly used old clothes, sometimes with an extra small sum of money, making people leave our house with happy faces. She couldn’t bear the sight and the thought that poor people leave her house in sorrow. I remember another instance where we would welcome some people in our home on an honor-system basis, to the extent of allowing them to stay with us for years and treat them just like a member of a family. In fact, these people were sent to school and in exchange, they would do certain household chores, just like what we did at home – running household and/or personal errands.
2. Our mother was a self-reliant, independent and a hands on person.
She was very hard working woman, an all around, do-it yourself person- a very good cook wherein some of my favorites include the very tasteful home made cakes (torta) baked in an old style fire furnace, sweet and salted rice cakes (suman), cassava cakes, fish escabeche (originally a Spanish recipe), beef stew with tomato sauce and other ingredients, tapas, her own “adobo” recipe, green seaweed/sweet potato leaf salad added with vinegar and onions, steamed tarot and yams and so many more. She was our chef and we would be her assistants, preparing the ingredients but we’re more interested on the taste test side of it!
She was our hairstylist and continued to be when ever we’re home. In fact, she was the one who first cut our hairs and did our first curls. There were times that we would try to beat each other and fall in line for the hair cut during weekends. Trust me, she was very good at it, and she could truly style the hair the way we wanted it to be. Probably she was forced to learn it by herself because almost of her children are girls except for one boy. And oh yes, even our only brother got his first taste of a haircut from her!
3.Our mother was a businesswoman in her own right.
I recall when my older siblings had to go to college. She established a small variety store so as to augment the family’s earnings. I also learned and acquired from her my business acumen, the wholesale/retail consignment method and the pricing strategies. She may not be an MBA degree holder but it was great that my first informal business know-how emanated from her. She was intelligent and I’ve discovered that she was among the top of their class during her school days.
I have also first learned from her about the barter system. She may not be aware of the technical parlance, but yes she knew how to trade our things in exchange for commodities. An instance is when poor farmers would go to the city center to trade their crops in exchange for clothes, blankets and other things they needed in their respective homes, my mother would engage in said activities. In fact, even without the traded goods, she would end up giving the needed things to these poor men and women.
I mentioned in my previous blog that my mother knew how to fashion dresses for her young children, especially when she had her first sewing machine. If she finds time, instead of buying ready made clothes, she would do the measurements, sketched the dress and made a pattern on a piece of large paper before sewing it. She didn’t go to a formal fashion school, it was more of a self-taught learning skill. She did not only sew some of our dresses but also for some small projects like curtains, for small windows and pillow cases, for home use.
4. Our mother was a very patient, relentless and pious woman.
Ever since I was a child, I observed my mother would wake up in the wee hours (3 or 4 am) of the morning, kneel beside her bed and pray the Holy Rosary and other devotional prayers. This habit of hers continued up to her heydays. During her mid younger days , I would hear her murmurs, silently saying her intentions pleading to God for mercy and forgiveness. Except when she’s indisposed, she would hear mass every day and brought us bread or any food which she bought on her way home. To her, the day would not be complete without attending the Holy Mass and receiving the Holy Communion.
Married to a man who was fond of being with friends- with peers who were like a family to him, having drinking spree with them, and getting drunk at the end of the day, was an agony to my mother. Lifting up everything to God, served as an outlet to her worries, and oh yes, her prayers were granted – it worked after so many years! Our father’s drinking spree has diminished and they both have a very good time together.
She was so patient and persevering, especially in dealing with my father’s whims like food to prepare, office clothes to wear and so on and so forth. She would gladly do these things sans complaints even though she was already exhausted just so to avoid further arguments.
My mother was my first teacher and catechist. I first learned from her about God and everything about spiritual beliefs. She first taught us the basic prayers and the Angelus and later the Holy Rosary with the Litany. Even without deliberate memorization of the said prayers but because of the constant praying of the Holy Rosary, I was able to memorize the mysteries and would you believe the litany as well which up to now I recite it by heart! For us young kids and teens then, we didn’t grasp the full significance of the said prayers – it appeared said things were repetitious and were imposed on us! It was only when we were growing up that we’re able to recognize the beauty and the importance of praying, especially the Holy Rosary. Truth is, I am now applying the lessons learned from my mother in my class telling them how prayers are important in our lives. I almost forgot another very good trait which I’ve learned from our parents – that after praying, we approached them, kissed them and placed their hands on our foreheads for blessings and as a sign of respect. Thereafter, the younger siblings would then go to the older ones and do the same thing.
Our mother was involved in church related organizations. As a matter of fact, she became one of the sponsors or “hermanas” during feast day celebrations. This is the reason why majority of her children are now actively involved in civic and socio-related activities.
She was my first music teacher too. She loved to sing and had a sweet voice. Hmmm, my good voice must have come from her, kidding aside! Oh yes, she had this skill of doing second voice thru the so-called “owido” (playing it by ear) which I realized just now that I have also acquired it from her. And more oh yessessss, she danced gracefully too!
5. Our mother was our first faithful doctor/nurse, mentor, critic, and our best friend ever.
I recall when we were sick during our younger days, our mother was the one who was there awake all night by our side, caring for us, cooking and feeding us our favorite food, giving us the needed medicines to make us well and healthy. She was there to provide moral support whenever it was time for her children to give birth and taught them how to bathe and care their first babies. It was just so frustrating that I wasn’t there by her side when she needed me most. I know from the deepest of her heart, she would understand me, just what she had been – a very considerate person.
She was our critic even during her golden years. Whenever she saw us not in proper attire, if we're showing a little some of our skins, she would jokingly call our attention to change our dress. And if she liked it, she would just sit there in the corner quietly looking at us with a smile dancing upon her lips. I knew she was keeping her praises for us to herself. She was not really outspoken as far as flattering and pleasing people are concerned. As I said, she was more on the “critiquing” side!
She was our best friend ever. When our Dad first left to join Our Creator, our mother was wandering from one of her children’s place to another. Even in her older years, she tried as much as possible to travel and visit her children and be with them for a month or so. She would initiate the planning of a reunion for all of us and I can still vividly recall how she looked very happy, anxiously waiting for us at the gate whenever it was time for our flight arrivals. She had plans in mind with one of my sisters as her partner. We would go to a beach for a swim, visit tourist places, or just simply stay at home discussing various issues or even ending up in arguments! Oh yes, we’re normal creatures, especially in a female dominated place – we had misunderstandings- the so called siblings rivalry – and she would be the arbiter! But overall, it was a great feast for all of us with the delicious food served on the table just like the parable about the rich father who prepared nice things for his prodigal son to return to his home!
Our mother’s last birthday and final days of her life
On her birthday, we planned for a grand celebration for her. We offered gifts, flowers, and delivered our extemporaneous personal messages which she gladly accepted with a modest smile. We designed a program and had the presentations recorded on video, and oh yes there was even a banner greeting with her photo on it mounted on the wall of the hotel’s ball room. She was very excited about it, as if she was celebrating her 18th birthday. I recall we sang the song “Through the Years” with a twist and had it re-worded so as to suit the occasion. How I wish I could have written this before and delivered a well thought meaningful birthday message during that time. I am sure she would only smirk at it but would be proud of me silently at the same time! Actually, my mother was happy and contented just by seeing her children completed their studies, and have turned into successful adults.
When I last saw her, my mother was still feeling great. When I bade farewell to her, she kissed and hugged me tightly as if she wanted me not to go but I simply ignored it and set aside the emotions brewing at that time. Our communications then were limited and undertaken thru telephone calls and internet conveyed messages. There were always the friendly reminders from her – the love and care of a mother to her child, until the gloomy sad news that she followed and be with Dad and her Creator in Heaven, after a decade. I would have wanted to say my deepest sincere apologies to her for my shortcomings, for my limitations and weaknesses. I would have wanted to say a quadrillion thanks for all the love and sacrifices. I would have wanted to share with her more of my time and tell her how much her child deeply loved her, but she could no longer hear it, feel it! That time was the most difficult, unhappiest and terrible moment of my life, in fact till now. But when I think of my mother when she was alive, it gave me emotional and spiritual healing, because I know she will always be there to offer prayers for her children, to offer birthday masses for her children and to comfort them when in trouble and in despair, no matter what, against all odds!
To my Mom, my heartfelt Happy Mother’s day greeting to you!
I could have written a novel about my mother. But I have to end it here with the following quotes by E.Cook:
I miss thee my Mother! Thy image is still
The deepest impressed on my heart.
As the saying goes, life must go on. But having said all of the foregoing, I trust you have learned something from it. So to all of you out there, awesome cool mothers all over the world, I wish you all a happy and wonderful Mother’s day!
The Brief Useful Tips
Here are some helpful tips for you children and husbands out there:
1. Shower your mother/wife with lots and lots of love and affection – that’s what she’s waiting for!
2. Put together a bouquet of amazing surprises that you can deliver to your mother, including small things like being with her the whole day, offering to cook her favorite food, taking her out for shopping and simply re-assuring her of your unwavering love and support throughout the rest of her life, among others.
3. Arrange a surprise party for her , with the husband and the children participating and a lot more.
Incidentally, today is the birthday of my Dad. Happy , Happy Birthday Dad!
Please offer prayers for the repose of his soul, and my mom's too. Thank you
On a lighter note, people from all over the world celebrated Easter Sunday according to their respective traditions. We see various popular icons symbolizing Easter such as Easter eggs, Easterbunny,Easter lily, Easterbasket,Easter flower pots,Easter chocolate and cookies , Easter bell and yes! there is also Easter fish and many more.
The most prominent and observed is the egg hunting activity during Easter day, especially for the children,
regardless of whether or not you’re doing it for 5 or a hundred children, it doesn’t matter. I did this before and have witnessed that this activity could be fun and challenging for the kids to be looking around for the Easter eggs with promised prizes at stake for them.
Since preparations for real egg hunting is more time consuming and tiresome as far as the host is concerned, another better and enjoyable option is to use plastic eggs. Using plastic eggs vs. real eggs is more safer, has lesser risks, and even much more economical. Plastic eggs and stuffs (e.g. miniature chocolates such as kisses, etc, assorted candies, small toys, notes, etc.) in big packages can be purchased at discount, party or wholesale club stores. Just make sure you have plenty and a variety of colors for the plastic eggs and the treats to go into the Easter eggs, depending on the number of kids participating in said activity.
There are several useful tips found on the web which you can adopt in your next eggs-citing and eggs-ploring activities! So, enjoy surfing the net!