My mom is the strongest woman I know.
Mama used to work in a company but then decided to resign to focus more on our family business. This was during the late 90’s and I was already in high school. I would remember Mama waking up early to do deliveries then go to different companies to do some “sales call” even walking under the heat of the sun in a deserted techno park in Laguna hoping to seal a deal at one of the companies there. Business was doing good and we were able to dispose of our old truck we named “Lohman” to a new Mitsubishi L300 FB van. Everything was going so well.
Until the business went down. Some of their clients ran out on them leaving them in debt with their own suppliers. Legal cases have been filed, the business went bankrupt, the spanking new L300 van was taken away by the bank, maids had to be sent away, home mortgage went unpaid earning more interest than the actual cost of the house, promissory notes for tuition fees piled up. In short, the hard times came and it came with a bang.
We found ourselves with less of what we used to have. The chicken, meat and beef that we used to have for dinners were replaced by 10 pesos worth of bread to be rationed to 6 kids and 2 adults, with Mama giving up her share telling us, “I’m still full.” The new clothes we used to buy from the malls every few months were replaced by a once a year shopping for Christmas Day at a “tiangge” near our house and these will be put on credit and will be paid after we got our “aguinaldos” from our Aunts and Uncles. Our electricity got cut off one too many times and we had to rely on candles to study for our lessons until Papa’s payday comes and we’ll be able to pay for our bill.
I remember my Mama trying to make ends meet by repacking nuts and having us sell those in school. I remember Mama making Nata de Coco at home making our house smell of vinegar just to earn some extra income. I remember Mama harvesting some “kamias” leaving them under the sun to dry and then packing them to sell at the market for 5 pesos per pack. I remember Mama swallowing her pride and going to our schools to plead with the administration to allow us to enroll under promissory notes.
Through all these, Mama remained strong. I’ve seen her waver but she never fell. I guess her faith helped keep her strength for us, her children. I don’t remember one Sunday that we missed to hear mass or one October evening (the month of the Holy Rosary) that we missed gathering up in front of our grotto to pray the rosary. Mama forced us even if we’re sick or just being lazy.
Some would be ashamed to recount distant stories of their past. But our story is humbling and it reminded us of the hard times that tightened our bond as a family. It reminds me of how my Mama kept our family together during those trying times, how she remained strong up to this day and how she proves she loves us in her own simple ways.
I love you so much, Mama. Everything that you’ve done for the family is very, very much appreciated even if we don’t say it often enough. Happy Mother’s Day!
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