09 May 2008

May 11 is Mother's Day


This coming weekend, we will be celebrating Mother's Day! I have three mothers in my life: my biological mother, my mother-in-law, and my wife. Last year I blogged about my wife as mother to our son Jo-Lo. For this year I would like to share how truly great my mother is.

Conchita Rodas y de Luna hails from Marinduque. She met our dad in Manila. Our dad worked in Acebedo Optical, and he was assigned to the Baguio branch in the 60s. So my parents hauled all their things and went off to Baguio. They have lived there ever since, and all five of us kids were born and raised in Baguio.

My father was an optician (he's retired now), and his wage was just enough for us to rent an apartment and lead a fairly simple life. But things became more difficult when our eldest sister started college, and we were all in school too save for the youngest. And our parents made sure that we went to good schools. I, for example, completed my studies from grade school til college at Saint Louis University.

My mother started a banana cue and camote cue business to augment our family income. She would be cooking nonstop for the entire day because she cooked rather well and making these skewered delights were no exception. After her little stint in front of our home, she and a friend rented a store in Burnham Park. I remember when I was in grade school, my brother and I would go to the store and stay there to wait until closing time. Our mother would sometimes give us money so we can play a game or two at the nearby arcade.

That's my father at the left with my mother beside him. I'm the kid she's holding in her arms.

Her arms were riddled then with hot oil burns, and it was tiring work indeed. There were many occasions when she would fall sick and stay in bed for a couple of days. But after that, she would go out and work again.

There were Christmas seasons when she did not have the spare money to buy us nice gifts. And so she would crochet sweatshirts for us. While waiting for our youngest in school, she would be doing her crochet, and continue on while watching TV and late into the night. And then she gave the sweatshirts in a huge, festively-wrapped box. I think I was able to wear my sweatshirt only a couple of times. Looking back, I realize that I should have given it more importance.

My mother loved cooking, and it showed on Christmas holidays. She would start cooking at lunchtime and end at night. We would be out playing and sneaking in every now and then, marvelling at the delicious smells coming from the kitchen. She was still cooking up delights some three years ago but she no longer has the stamina for cooking on extended periods. There were times when she would end up sick as Christmas eve approaches and would stay in bed and then huddle up in a blanket at midnight as we open gifts.

She is around 65 years old now, and we, her kids, now provide our parents with their needs. We had a small sari-sari store built by the house so they can preoccupy themselves and not get bored. They get pains from their joints and the Baguio climate is not helping any, but they are living it up and always has a ready smile for us when we visit them. She even sometimes asks what I want for lunch when she knows we will visit. She cooks the meanest igado, pinakbet, adobo, and dinengdeng.

She taught me our assignments back in grade school, did our haircut, made our home comfortable, cooked the most delicious food, and tried to treat us all her kids fairly. I can never truly describe how much she loved and cared for us.

I love you, Nanay. Happy Mother's Day! We will visit you this weekend!
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