Archives

‘THERE MUST ALWAYS BE DECENCY, EVEN IN POVERTY’ by Malu E. Gacuma / July 20, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, my daughters made a gentleman cry.

He heads the Engineering Department at the Provincial Capitol. As my 2nd daughter, Christienne Marie  and I entered their office to sell snacks ( e.g.Oreo Float, Yema Cake and Choco Moist), I was surprised how all of the staff and this gentleman welcomed my daughter with so much warmth and fondness! They looked for my 2 other daughters, Chickie and Claudia,who were in school.

I am so moved that they still remember my children who sold lunch and snacks to them every day way back 2014, when they forcibly quit from school due to monetary constraint, a problem hounding us since their late father had absolutely abandoned us  in 1999.

food2

2014: At noontime ,Angel and Claudia, with Chickie taking photo, while they were resting at the Bacolod Lagoon after a tiring endeavor.

family in manila

December 2001,Manila : Me with my 3 girls then aged 6,4 and 3.

food1

2014.During their food-selling days as out-of-school youth. They would often rest at the Bacolod Lagoon,adjacent to Provincial Capitol, and take photos of themselves as their past time.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

selling1

2014: Coming home  at high noon after selling,haggard,tired but still those smiles were there.

angel face

Angel doing her sideline,face-painting,in a birthday party.

chickie fp

Chickie doing face-painting during Christmas Party.It was a sideline Angel found out and both of them earned from it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left without a choice, as their widowed mother, I opened their young minds that investing their time into selling and being productive will compensate for their lost days in school. It will teach them skills to survive without compromising the virtues and values taught to them. They were so obedient, enthusiastic, open-minded and determined.

They only sold to the employees of the Provincial Capitol, 5 days a week under any weather, with their baskets full of various menus we also cooked. Menus varied from ‘brunch’ to lunch to merienda e.g. Valenciana ( our best seller) , spaghetti, pancit bihon, ginataang monggo with langka, fried fish, chicken adobo, chicken curry, chicken with pineapple,  paksiw na bangus, fried bangus, eggplant torta, picadillo ( another best seller) , pochero, baguio beans and diced potatoes with pork giniling, sandwiches, burgers, banana cake, buko pie, even chicken Arroz Caldo with boiled egg.

We started our day at 2 am, sheer hard work!  We cooked until about 6 am and prepared everything by 8 am. At 9 am they were out to sell and usually came home at noontime, with empty baskets, so tired yet with happy faces! Oftentimes, they would bring extra food for street children they met at the Lagoon.

food3

2014-One of their selling days.Chickie sharing extra food for the homeless children at the Bacolod Lagoon, something they love to do until now

food21

2014: Claudia & Chickie, with Angel taking photo,  heading home after making good sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I gave them ‘commissions‘ for their daily income, which they saved and used as their fares and needs on Saturdays,when they studied for 10 months under Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program for their acceleration to college.

food5

2014: The children’s very first ‘commission’ after bringing home empty food baskets on their 1st selling day!They took photo of it for remembrance!

 

food6

2014: Some of the ‘brunch’ and snacks they sold



 

 

 

 

 

 

It was timely that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( thru the Bacolod 1st Ward in Galo Street), where we are members, had a partnership that time with the Department of Education. My children were offered to be among the students and they went to  the Galo chapel classes under the tutelage of Mr. Leo Ceralbo, the assigned ALS teacher.

food7]

2015: The children graduating from the Church’s ‘Perpetual Education Fund or PEF Program,which they took up on weekends, simultaneous with the DepEd-ALS program.

 

 

CHIGELAY GRADUATES 2015 - Copy

July 4,2015:
After a few years and an add-on of more 10 months of sacrifice, they finally graduated from high school thru DepEd-ALS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food11

2015: Claudia as youth volunteer of Mormon Helping Hands during the ‘National Day of Service’ of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

chigelay esp

2014: The children as youth volunteers for  the Ecological Society of the Phils. (ESP) whose events I organized in Negros.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food14

June 2017: Chickie’s recognition from her employer for reaching her 3rd year as regular employee inspite of being a full time student.

food15

2015: Chickie as youth volunteer for Red Cross

food16

2017,1st sem: Chickie,an Agri-Business major,here deworming a goat

food0

2017,1st sem: Angel, as lead actress, here in a scene from their school film titled ‘Hereafter’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning how my children are faring at the University of Saint La Salle these days, and reaching their 3rd majoring year,the Engineering Head suddenly paused in our conversation, then his staff fell in silence.

He was in tears, saying he was so deeply touched by my children’s struggle. He could not contain himself. It was a blessed moment! As we ended our conversation, he gave us a handshake each, which I could feel the respect he wanted to extend.

It pierced through my heart – his sincerity and empathy was insurmountable! Same with the employees around.

food4

June 2015: My children wearing their University of Saint La Salle uniform for the first time.Here they posed for remembrance.

food9

2017: Claudia, as current News Editor of The Spectrum ,La Salle’s official media publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food19

2017: My Facebook wall post congratulating Angel being granted a full scholarship as member of La Salle’s Maskara Theater Ensemble

food10

2016: Claudia as  Bacolod team leader/ reporter for Rappler.Here she was reporting about the elections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food20

My Facebook wall post congratulating Chickie for her high grades, despite being a full time employee of Focus Direct call center  and having a 29-unit load in school

food13

2016 : My Facebook wall post congratulating Claudia for making it to the University of St. La Salle’s Dean’s List

food8

Manila,2016: Claudia as youth Climate Reality Leader,during Al Gore’s int’l leadership training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

food18

The children with their respective sash for being chosen as “DeMolay Chapter Sweetheart” by Int’l Order of deMolay-SVAC.Chickie is the current ‘Sweetheart,2017’.

Of course, needless to say, he also bought the snacks we brought. This time, not out of sympathy but to celebrate the meeting we had with him.

Such will always be a very memorable day for me as a mother.After all the deprivation,humiliation sacrifices and discrimination I had to endure for them, these were all worth it.  It was a moment that made me understand what ‘Lord’s blessings’ truly mean.

This was the unspoken message I have proven from the tears of joy from a good-natured gentleman, who –as a parent himself– shared my views that there must always be decency, even in poverty.*

 

(NOTE:  Originally posted over my Facebook wall  at 7:51 pm, 20,2017 then published thru Negros Daily Bulletin, July 24-25,2017 issue ,page 5, ‘The Diarist: On Love and Life’ column)

(ADDENDUM: The good-natured  Engineering Head’s name is Engr. Erwin Mapa.)

poverty3

poverty4

 

 

L-R Christienne Marie, Claudia and Chickie Gancayco

L-R: Christienne Marie (Angel), Christiana Claudia (Clay) and Christa Lou (Chickie) Gacuma Gancayco

 

 

 

‘A ROLE NOT MINE ALONE’ (A Father’s Day Reflection) by Malu E. Gacuma , June 18, 2017

✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽

As Father’s Day arrived a minute past midnight earlier today, my 3 girls greeted me “Ma, Happy Father’s Day!“, considering I have raised them single-handedly for 18 years now. They see me taking the role of both mother and father not only by provision but even with some physical tasks a father is expected to do, e.g. carpentry, carrying heavy things, staying up and sleepless to guard the house in times of danger , braving the worst of weathers and the threats of some chauvinistic men.

mama multi tasking

Some of our countless roles  in life! (Thanks to my eldest daughter, Chickie, for this 2012 collage)

 

 

 

painter

December 2016- Doing the usual house painting task every Christmas (Thanks to my 2nd daughter, Angel, for this candid shot)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the hardest father’s task to do is coping with the financial demands of raising the children for them to be educated, decent and God-fearing individuals. It is not done with ease but more with pains, sacrifices,self-deprivation and countless tests of faith and endurance.

How many times have I been humiliated for asking assistance from people when there was no last recourse at that moment? How many times have I been subjected to verbal bullying for not being able to cope with deadlines of paying our rent? How many times have I been insulted and debased for trying so hard to cope with the deadlines and demands of the schools? How many kilometers have I walked back and forth, literally, to save every cent that I may be able to go home—as a provider– with food for the table? Countless times. Despite all efforts, it seems like there is always not enough. It takes blind faith to keep going on.

family in manila

December 26,2001 in Quezon City : Our 2nd Christmas without their father. With my daughters, Chickie, Angel and Clay ( then aged  6, 4 and 3 yrs old, respectively).

As a once abandoned-then-widowed wife, I may have all the reasons to take pride that today, Father’s Day, I deserve my children’s greetings to validate that I have lived up to the manly role far more better than my husband.

However, that mindset is not what I am instilling to my daughters’ individual character. I always remind them that Father’s Day belongs solely to their late father, Christopher. Regardless of his shortcomings or absolute negligence as he battled his own self when he was alive, he now remains –even in memory– as their father, in essence. Nobody can or must take away that role from him. Not even I. My children got the point.

tush

 

 

father's day

 

 

For this, I will still, with the least respect due him and his memory, greet him today, “Happy Father’s Day, CTG, wherever you may be.”

And as Father’s Day will end tonight, I can sleep soundly. For a day well-defined and well-remembered. ❤

✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸

 

 

 

‘THE FAMILY THAT LAUGHS TOGETHER…’ by Malu E. Gacuma, May 12, 2017 ( Friday, 11:58 am)

Sometimes, our family conversations can abruptly shift from sensible to insensible or vice-versa, depending on everyone’s mood ,which usually borders to the crazy mode! But it always leaves me dumbfounded with my kids’ surprising lines! Consider these instances:

*(When I suddenly received little surprises from my 3 girls as they arrived home)*

ME: (happily) “Where do you get money to buy all these?
ANGEL (Christienne) : (naughtily) ” Don’t worry,Ma! No matter what happens, our kidneys will always be intact!” (*winks*)   (laughter)
———————@——————

*(Last night, while overhearing Chickie’s song playlist, mostly R&B , all of which are totally unfamiliar to me -both the songs and the artist/s, my curiosity heightened what made her so inclined to such genre)*

ME: ( giving Chickie a quizzical look) ” How do you ever find them? Why do you like those kinds of songs?”
Before she could answer, Claudia butted in:
CLAY: “Ma,don’t worry! Manang Chickie is a girl who is attuned to her own century.”
———————@——————
*(One morning, we overheard Chickie, who is petite with her 5 ft. height, sigh in relief, as she hung some washed clothes on the clothesline at our front yard.)*

ME: (teasingly) “Finally! You reached it! That’s a sign of progress!”
CHICKIE: (replies jubilantly, raises eyebrows) “ Well,that’s easy,Ma! If I can reach my dreams, how much more that simple clothesline? ”

 

See?
To think I just taught these girls their ABCs!!

 

chigelay 2

My daughters Christa Lou ( Chickie), Christienne Marie ( Angel) and Christiana Claudia (Clay) Gacuma Gancayco

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

(Note: Originally posted on my Facebook wall, 11:58 am May 12,2017 ,Friday)

‘SHOTGUN MARRIAGE: A Myth Born Out of Some Men’s Alibi’ ( by Malu E.Gacuma, April 9,2017 Saturday @ 11:00 am)

✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸

I remember having met a couple in Iloilo City before, in the mid-’90s, where the husband was dashing and handsome in his 40s,while the wife was the opposite in physiological terms, not to mention that she was more than 10 years his senior.

Not for anything but the woman showed a very possessive, nagging and inconsiderate attitude towards her good-natured husband. At one point of our meeting, this husband confided that he was only forced to marry his wife when, out of a drunken stupor, he bedded her and became the first man who did.She told her parents and this led to their ‘untimely’ marriage.I heard these lines too often.

Shotgun Marriage. That’s how our culture terms it. In this odd scenario, it is always believed that the woman ends up hugging victory! She got the man she wanted or she is obsessed with! Forget how.Just think she did,at all cost!

By those two words, one’s imagination would play up seeing a trembling man beside his grinning wife as they wed, and behind them is a father-in-law with a double-barrelled shotgun pointed at the guy! One false move and the unwilling groom wouldn’t make it to the door!

During my media days with DYWB Bombo Radyo Bacolod, in a program I had anchored (a 5-hour-program then called ‘Good Morning,Philippines’,) this topic had been raised. During the last 15-minute part of the program’s Interview portion, I struck the question “Nagapati bala kamo nga may Shotgun Marriage okon wala?  (“Do you believe that Shotgun Marriage exists or not?”) It was so amusing how the influx of calls came from men,all amenable and always with a regretful tone! “Ginpilit lang ako!” (“I was just forced into it!“)- the ruing gentlemen lamented on the phone.

Marriage is a choice and a major decision in anyone’s life. When confronted by a question whether he wants to get married or not, a sensible man needs to choose between two answers: yes or no.There  is no gray area compelling him to say ‘Yes,but..” .Remember, it is a choice. We all have freedom of choices.

For a man to profess that he was just forced into the marriage ,well, that’s the lamest alibi that can exist ! (Strike 1.)

Worst, their declaration is always preceded by another common alibi:” I was drunk and accidentally bedded her!” (Strike 2.)

Failure to make the right choice often leads to that need for an alibi, to justify the failure done ( whether wittingly or unwittingly).

Ergo, ‘shotgun marriage‘ was born out of collective alibi of men who refuse to admit they failed to make the right choice of their wives. It paints a picture of a woman as a scheming villainess who is out to build her coven with an unwilling husband as her first prey. It paints another picture of that unwilling husband as a submissive man bound for eternal martyrdom.( Let her be damned? Blessed he be? )

I always have high respect for the moral hierarchy of a man in a family structure that is brick-layed by a sacred and God-centered marriage. I’m talking about a man who is embodied with character values making him worthy to be vested with his ‘Pillar of the Home’ title.

It is the worst alibi of weak men who made a mistake, refused to accept that mistake and choose to live a lie for the rest of their lives, blaming it on their wives rather than repairing themselves.

Personally, I do not believe in ‘shotgun marriage’ or anything close to its definition.With all the aforementioned, I have all the sensible reasons NOT to believe.

Without any shotgun behind you, would you?

✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸

sm

Credits to photo owner

✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽:¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸¸✽¸

“PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN AS A MOTHER”

by Malu E. Gacuma

May 11,2013 Saturday (10am)

(A tribute to my Mommy,  the late ANITA ESCAMOS GACUMA)

She was born in 1935 , in a family considered quite privileged during the pre-World War 2 days,  her father being a bemedalled national athlete and a  U.S. Army Major.

Thus, self-discipline was their daily rule as manifested in their household policies and regimen: all must be around the table on scheduled mealtimes, attendance to daily prayers had to be complied, all five siblings must be home on their given  curfew time, a daughter can go out on a date only with a chaperone, each daughter had an assigned chore that must be done before lunchtime, privacy and proprietorship of personal items must be respected including diaries and mails, every nook and corner of their house must be neat and organized before their Father comes home, and the list goes on.

It was a second household law for them to be resourceful and creative. To ask for something wanted ,not needed, meant to earn it and deserve it.Otherwise, she and her sisters had to make the most of what they had during those times when they were growing  up in  the economic remnants  of the 2nd World War.It was how they were trained to help their father who was always assigned elsewhere to serve our country thru the U.S Army.

At a tender age from 7  up to 9 years old, she learned to help her mother sell homemade “maruya” ( a banana delicacy) and ” tapioca“,among other food items by a railroad track in Fort Mckinley , Rizal ,where a train filled with soldiers and locals pass by everyday.What she earned, she would keep in her piggy bank,to use for her school needs  when War would be over.

Pre-War photo Escamos family.jpg

A pre-World War 2 photo of my late mother with her mother and sisters.(L-R) my mother , Anita,aged between 3-4 yrs.old; the late Teresita or `Tita Tesing’,Quezon City-based  Emerita or `Ninang` as we call her, and their eldest sister,now US-based Leonida or `Auntie Leonie`

She always told me and my own siblings about how Filipinos starved  and died of hunger and  of  diseases  and malnutrition  during Japanese Occupation  of our country in WW2.

While her three older sisters were among those  youth enlisted by the Japanese troops  to work under ‘forced labor’  in a nearby camp during  daytime , my  mother  was spared by her young age, and stayed at home with her youngest sister to help my grandmother.

They hardly cooked every  ‘small can of rice’ her older sisters earned each day. Instead, they kept it for the worst times, and for their Father’s homecoming. Their daily meals were vegetables and beans. Fruits, fish or meat were scarce. Their daily ration of U.S. corned beef,sausages, flour,butter and milk temporarily stopped at the height of the War.

This was, according to my  mother, how she learned to “ extend the life” of each meal to suffice for every family member . Her  eventual culinary expertise,including her impressive German pot Roast , potato salad  and meat dishes,  stemmed from such trying moments.

Their darkest times as a family  happened when her father was imprisoned  and tortured and among those 80,000 soldiers who were forced by the Japanese  to join the infamous Bataan Death March in 1942.

papang

My late maternal grandfather,U.S. Army   Major Juan ‘Johnnie’ Tambanillo EScamos

But her family’s  deeply-religious faith, with their resourcefulness  and ” a lot of common sense” , helped them survive. She told me how they never experienced looking shabby despite the poverty brought by the War.

On late nights,they painstakingly shredded her father’s old Army socks, and used the shreds as thread to sew and make their dresses from the yards of cloth that  a  love-struck , young and  good-natured Japanese officer kept giving her older and teenage  sister as a gift each time he visited their house. He left for Japan as their troops retreated, leaving a Japanese-English translation book to my Mommy as token of their friendship. My mother said it was the kind heart of that officer that prevented her from hating all Japanese.

I vividly remember her telling me, with a smile,how she –at age 9–loved to write and read despite the absence of any pencil, paper or books which the  Japanese troops confiscated from schools they had raided. My mother and her young friends used fresh “gabi” and  banana leaves and  sticks or twigs   for writing. They played games about their past lessons to keep these in their memory,at least until war would be over.

This was the experience that has drawn out  her artistic nature which she eventually formalized with a Fine Arts Major from  the University of Santo Tomas, alongside her AB Philosophy degree, which she both finished with Honors.

Students were forcibly made to learn Japanese subjects, including Nihonggo which my mother hated. She said she made sure to bite her tongue and refused to open her lips whenever they were made to sing a Japanese song.

She was too young to realize her own patriotism” burning in her soul,”as she said.

mommy reading

Mommy,then newly-married,in a stolen  shot taken by  Dad. (early 1960s,Fabrica)

Her suppressed nationalistic inclination was eventually expressed in her piano-playing and her passion to write.

She nurtured her  passion for reading (which became our  family habit,especially on lazy afternoons, or after dinner or before sleeping) and perhaps, a ‘certain degree of addiction’ to English crosswords. Never a day passed without her doing the crossword at any given time.

My grandfather escaped the Death March and made it back to his family. But my mother’s eldest brother, Uncle Eli , died from the  Japanese soldiers’ bullets buried on his chest, for covering his friend, another Filipino soldier-officer, who survived.

This was another bitter life experience that made my mother decide to be a doctor. She eventually finished her second degree, in Dentistry, at the University of the East, as a University  scholar and  was among the Top 3 in the  Dean’s List.

It was in U.E.  when she met my father, Dr.Oscar D. Gacuma, her first and only boyfriend whom she eventually married in 1958.She turned  her back on a promising profession as a Dentist and declined an offer from the International Red Cross abroad, to devote her time as a mother  and wife.

escamos clan 2

My mother (extreme right) and her sibings with their parents,U.S.Army Major Juan Tambanillo Escamos and Mrs.Elvira  Alonso Escamos.Her sisters were (L-R) Isabel, Emerita Teresita and Leonida.

In a home managed by her highly-conservative mother, she grew up accustomed to the so-called “old school of thought” where it was a household law to maintain modesty in words and actions ,whether in private or public.These were “household laws” handed down to my own generation and even to the next  (among my 3 girls now).

My mother gently reproached us, as kids, with the Elton Camp poem ,saying  “Elbows on the  table were a crime…and not permitted at any time.” This line evolved as we grew up to a simple reminder of “ Elbows off the table, please.”

As a mother, she had a keen eye on propriety, ethics, etiquettes and manners. It was not in a puritan or obliging manner.It was more of her own way of packaging self-respect and present it to the eye of society.

Manong Oggie and his yaya Puping

Yaya Puping with my late older brother. manong Oggie

She and my father also imposed the  use of English as ”mother tongue” in the household , not even our  then-unschooled nanny named, Puping, could escape! The imperfections in Puping’s grammar and her daily conversations with my Mom and Dad are now among favorite household anecdotes.

However, it was my mother who patiently taught Puping how to read and write, until our nanny finished a basic culinary crash-course that changed her life, when she finally had a family of her own, which Puping raised single-handedly thru  her small baking business in the latter years.

Memories about my mother will always lie deeply buried in my heart and mind. She will always remain a revered person, quiet and shy as she was.

To write about her silent achievements is a tribute to her not of words, but of love. Mommy and I  may had bonded, argued, cried, laughed,shared Crosswords, whispered secrets to each other and shared most chores and decisions in life , but her conservative Tagalog nature of not being physically expressive, unlike my Dad , made us feel subservient to her and got used to it.

Her hugs were rare but meaningful.To us children, it was like a Grand Prize for something good we did.She would always kiss us but  only on our foreheads. I grew up always having that arm’s-length feeling about wanting to embrace her everytime i wanted to, without the funny feeling of like stepping intrusively into someone’s sacred ground. I surmised it must be deep respect for her as a person that gave me that feeling.

mom.jpg

Mommy at about 42 yrs. old, 1977

As a budding teenager, I would not have learned how to deal with the growing pains hadn’t she  guided me with her letters and wise counsel, with never-ending emphasis on strength of character and reverence for God. One would never get tired of repeatedly reading her letters also because of her beautiful,disciplined handwriting that were, most often than  not, devoid of mistakes.

A man can only go as far as a woman would allow him’” Never make the first move if you like a man. A sincere man will always find a way to let you know once he likes you back.”…..“Never let the sun set on a quarrel”…. “A mother’s prayer is the sweetest music to God’s listening ears.”

These, i suppose, were her wisest counsel to me along the years. She loved to quote  poets, philosophers, icons and the Holy Bible in her advice.Before she passed away  last June of 2007, our last meeting was the culmination of all that I wanted to know and feel.She was seated on her wheelchair, which bound her for almost 2 years due to diabetes complications.

I was kneeling in front of her, cutting her toenails, when she suddenly embraced me so tight and with tears streaming down her face, she kept repeating how much she loved me and trusted me so much!

There we were,both crying as I vowed to her that I would live up to what she raised me for.

For the first time, I heard her ask for forgiveness,for her shortcomings as a mother and as a person and I asked her the same. She entrusted to me all that she valued, which I took as a gesture of the trust she professed. It was a beautiful moment  which I will always treasure beyond any biological connection I have with her.

Few days later,my mother fell into coma and passed away.Only her beautiful memory will now remain.

I love you so much,Mommy. I am always proud to be your daughter.