My mom once shared with me a rare convo between her and papa.
Papa imagined what it could be like if either one of them passed away. He said if he was gone first, mama can actually make it on her own. She was strong and smart, and she can keep it together. But if mama would be gone too soon, he says he wouldn’t know exactly what to do.
It was an odd conversation, but one that needs thinking. It must be thought of, eventually. It was inevitable that in most cases, one would pass on to leave the other. It only took a couple of years for that to materialize. Papa went ahead.
But just as they said it, while times were rough, our family was kept well together. True, mama knew exactly what to do. She kept calling the shots. And here we are, few years down the line, missing one member, but still family.
The scenario won’t be true for everyone. To each his own. But one thing I learned in a family ran by women is the fact that women, by nature, are full of strength and determination to go on. And they are able to transform to answer whatever it is that a situation needs. But more importantly, at the same time, in a household, their power can only be dealt with properly if acknowledged, and not fought against, by their male counterparts.
Papa acknowledged mama’s capability. Not as someone better than him, but as someone who can fill in the gaps that he can’t. That’s how they loved harmoniously and effectively — in the understanding and utilization of their differences and each’ strength. It wasn’t after all a competition, but on how they can make things better for the other and for everyone.
Pretty late for a women’s month writing but what the heck, I love women. Women are amazing.
Mamang was one who was easy to please. When we were little, we’d give her a new Sunday blouse as present and she would happily fit the clothing and say her thanks. In college, mamang would ask me to buy her a Pointsettia in a pot. And we’d wait until December to watch the beauty of the red flower. On some random days, I’d ask her what she wants to eat and then our family would troop to Chowking. Blouse, flowers, fastfood…the little that makes mamang happy.
Despite not being able to finish school, mamang would always boast how she was able to help send her kids (my titos and titas) to good schools. She used to have a small store in Basilan, and when they came to Negros, she continued selling whatever she could. “Paningkamot ug diskarte,” that’s what she would always say.
Her simplicty takes pride in the fact that her grandchildren are also doing well. She was fond of all of us, and she never failed to ask about how we were, what we were doing. She smiles hearing our stories, as if to say that we’ve done her proud.
She was very loving. She was a tough woman, but a loving woman nonetheless. In her last year, mamang would talk to us to tell us that she loves us. Last December, during Christmas, she took the little that she has from her pension to give to my two younger cousins. Even when bedridden and struggling dor life, she thinks of her children and grandchildren.
During my last visit, mamang randomly called me to her room. I asked if she needed anything. She said she didn’t. And in between her struggle for breathes, she said an “I love you.” I held back tears to tell her that I love her too, that we all do. She smiled a peaceful smile. She is happy.
Kuya has always been fond of machines. When we were little, he would try to fix our old appliances like fans, radios, and electrical wirings, and tinker on other stuff he can find in our house. What he can not make up for words, he does for service. He was our self made man.
It has always been a dream of his to have a job that allows him to work on machines. It was a bonus that this job, too, puts him near to his other fascination: airplanes.
His road towards finally graduating from one of the most prestigious training programs for aircraft mechanics in the Philippines was a difficult one. But it was something he willingly took.
We have never seen him that determined his entire life — studying until the wee hours to finish reading his handouts, and even actively doing some group reviews to make sure they all pass the exams. Truly, the things we are most passionate about push us to take the sacrifices we never thought we would.
And I know kuya is happy. His childhood dream is now a reality, not everyone can say that.
Kuya’s second home: Hangar at Singapore Airlines Engineering Philippines (SIAEP)