Ang Aking Ina

Mother in her Kolehiyala days

Mommy, Mother, Mama. Whatever name you call her, she’s the most beautiful woman you’ll ever meet. She’s the woman who knows you best. The one who will love you no matter what you do. I’ve done lots of dumb things, but mother loved me the best.

Here are five stories I remember with my mother that have made me a better man:

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My first memory was when I was about four years old. If there’s one thing that I owe to my mother, it’s my insatiable desire for knowledge. My first book was a yellow paperback copy of “Run Bantay, Run!” It was mother who painstakingly guided me through taking my baby steps into reading. I remember singing alphabet, I remember those lazy afternoons where we would rehearse reading “ba-be-bi-bo-bu” and “ka-ke-ki-ko-ku” all over and over again. Then words came, then sentences, such as “See Bantay run!”

Mother said that I was a very impatient child when I was learning how to read. After our study sessions, I would get that book and go to the next lesson, which I didn’t really know, so mother would continue to teach me until I got tired and fell asleep.

There is a saying that goes: “Ang mabuting edukasyon ay ang pinakamagandang maipapamana ng magulang sa kanyang anak” (Good education is the best inheritance a parent can give to her child). Mother made certain of this timeless wisdom, and I am who I am today because of the door she opened when she gave me the power to read. Ask her, and she’ll say how I spent countless hours devouring books and novels and poems, how I kept her and Pa in the bookstore for more than 2 hours picking a book (I was only allowed to choose 1 book, and it was a dilemma for me), how I kept asking questions because of all that I read.

I would love to write more about how mother taught me how to read, but I can’t stress enough how powerful the education given to me by my mother made such an impact in my life.

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I was a sickly kid. I couldn’t last a month without getting sick. Even though my vaccines were complete, I was still that wimpy kid.

When I was about 5 years old, I got hospitalized for a bad case of amoebiasis. Mama was there to take care of me. I remember eating Barquillos as she would drive me around the hospital in my wheelchair. What was special about this case, was that I was the child who had the mother who took an extra step.

During that time, I was fascinated with dinosaurs. I knew the names of most dinosaurs then, a fact that my mother had in mind when she drew pictures of these dinosaurs, colored them, and put on the post of my IV infusion bag, just so I wouldn’t get bored. I wasn’t. I was the happiest kid in the hospital, and I recovered quickly.

Those dinosaurs Mama drew? She left it at the hospital so that other kids could be as happy as I was back then.

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When it comes to problems, Mama is someone who prefers to act that to react. To put this in perspective, we were once eating in a pizza place when we were talking about stuff that happened in the past.

When I was about 8-10 years old, I was out with Papa, Mama, my younger brother, and my Lola at the Men’s shoes section of a local department store. Papa was guiding my brother and I through the sea of shoes while Mama accompanied Lola over to a seat to let her rest. She told Lola to sit at those chairs used by customers who need to test-wear their shoes. Mama left Lola there to check up on us. When she saw things were in order, she went back to Lola, who she found standing up.

If there’s one thing about Mama, she’s scary if she’s pissed. Finding Lola, who was then in her early 80s, standing up was a really big insult considering that a kid who wasn’t even trying a shoe, replaced her seat. Apparently, a salesclerk asked Lola to get out of her seat to accommodate the customer. Mama asked Lola who was responsible, and Lola pointed out, in a let’s-not-get-into-trouble tone, the perpetrator.

Man, Mama was pissed. She confronted the salesclerk, who told her that she made Lola leave her seat because she wasn’t a customer. Mama argued 1.) Lola was a senior citizen who was tired, and 2.) we were out there buying shoes, so weren’t we customers? Mama asked for the manager of the department store, and she and the salesclerk were brought to the office.

The manager apologized to Mama and asked what she wanted to be done to the salesclerk. Mama asked if the salesclerk had any children, and when some of her coworkers affirmed this fact, Mama told the salesclerk that if it wasn’t for her children, she would have the manager fire the salesclerk. By this point, the saleclerk was crying, for reasons beyond my objectivity. Mama told the salesclerk to apologize to Lola, which she did.

In this story, Mama taught me that the solution to problems is doing what the solution is. There is not shorter line from point A to point B than the straight path, or the no-BS line. I’m so proud of my mother for standing up for what’s right.

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Now that I’m currently in college scraping up a degree, I live in an apartment that gave me a fistful of independence and a truckload of responsibilities. I live far away from home, and the values Mama had taught me through the years sustain me. For example, I wasn’t raised to be lazy: I know how to cook, how to clean, and how to repair stuff because Mama taught me how. She taught me to keep clean, eat healthy, and stay sharp all the time.

It’s funny how I miss my home. When I first moved in, Mama accompanied me in my first night at the apartment. That night, I felt safe. I felt secure and happy. My mother was near me, and all the love in the world I felt. That was the best sleep in my out-of-home life, if I may so myself. The next day, my mother left for home, after bringing some take-out dinner for me to eat later that night.

It was a lonely dinner. So lonely, that I took a mirror and placed it in front of me to pretend that someone was there with me. It was pretty sad, I know, but the umbilical cord that connected me from the bubble that shielded me from the world’s worries was no longer with me. I had to face the world now. That night, I slept warily.

During my first months there, Mama would text message me all the time and check up how I was, if I was eating well and was at the apartment. I would always say yes, and I never lied about this. In time, as I got used to the distance, the text messages slowly diminished from everyday, to every other day, to twice per month. While I found myself stronger and wiser living as frugally as a college student could, Mama’s text messages, which without fail would always have “I love you” at the end, always gave me strength to continue pressing on.

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During my shift at the Pediatrics Ward a few months ago, my clinical instructor showed me my incompetence. I cried that afternoon as I was going home. It was the first time I’ve cried so hard in a year. I felt so helpless, and I really just wanted to quit then and there. I called Mama, and I was crying so hard outside Sotejo Hall. I told her that I was incompetent, that I sucked, and all the self-pitying I can throw. She just listened. She told me that it wasn’t my fault, since I was still a student. I told her that I wanted to quit Nursing. She told me she would come over that Tuesday afternoon.

When Mama arrived, I was crying on her shoulders. She hugged me and told me that she knows that I’m doing my best, and that I should take it easy on myself every once in a while. She told me how she observed that this hatred for myself came from my becoming competitive with others instead of myself. Was I not my worst enemy? I cried until I became tired. I still had some work to do that night, so rest wasn’t an option. I asked Mama to pray with me, and we prayed.

As I expected, I failed the rotation there. As a consequence, I had to take a make-up rotation in order to meet those expectations. For students in our college, this was clearly a direct threat to my college life. If I were to fail that make-up, it would mean getting delayed for a year. I know, it may seem like a small thing, but for me, it was a death sentence. A year would set me back from my dreams.

When I received my clinical instructor’s verdict on that Thursday afternoon, I felt my heart skip a beat. I expected it. I went to my apartment that day, too tired to care. Mama dropped by with my younger brother, who brought some food for me to eat. She told me that I shouldn’t be afraid to fail. She said she would love me no matter what.

I passed that make-up rotation. Behind the scenes during those fateful days, my mother (and surprisingly, my father) went to Church to pray for me.

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Today is my mother’s birthday. I am here at the city, a gentleman made by the love of a great Mama.

Happy Birthday Mama! I love you. I will finish this BS Nursing degree by next year!

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3 Comments

  1. kbugal

     /  August 10, 2011

    Like! 😉

    Reply
  2. Haha~ Ang cute ni tita. 😀

    Reply

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