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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mommyla and Ima: What I Inherited From My Grandmothers

Was listening to one of Bro. Bo Sanchez's recorded preaching on "Know When To Quit", talking about path and purpose when I found myself thinking about my grandmothers Mommyla and Ima and the paths they have each taken in their lives.


Mommyla and me at 4 months old
Mommyla is my mom's mother and my sister and other cousins grew up living with her in her house. We used to be so terrified of Mommyla, whose intense temper matched that lovely face! But as the years went by and hearing her story during the Japanese occupation of Manila in the 40s, I began to understand and love her more.

Mommyla comes from a brood of sisters, the 2nd to the oldest with their only brother dying as a young soldier during the war. My great grandfather died before the war broke out, leaving my great grandma, Lola Canora with six children the youngest being an infant. Their eldest, Auntie Toyang was studying to be a teacher and recently got married so the task of working for a living was passed on to Mommyla at the age of 15. Mommyla would sell in the marketplace everyday all sorts of food items, at the same time trying to ward off suitors. She even risked her life, working for the cause of the Filipino guerrillas by gathering empty shrapnel shells for them. And during the Japanese massacre, she and a male cousin had to transport their entire family by pushing them in a "kariton" (wooden cart) from Guadalupe to Antipolo, with Mommyla nursing a bayonet wound. Mommyla was the only one among her sisters who wasn't able to finish her studies, sacrificing her education to feed her family. But all of that paid off when after the war, she and my grandfather Daddylo lived a blessed, well-off life and she didn't have to work a single day thereafter. 

Mommyla's life is the living example of Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well." Mommyla had a struggling early life and later on an emotionally-hounding one when she had to suffer the passing away of Daddylo, of her eldest Daddy Boy and then her youngest, my Mom. But all of these she endured with an ever intensifying faith in God. She raised all of us with a strong faith in the Lord, always reminding us that no matter how great the trial in your life, God will see you through it.  


Ima and Tatay

Ima was my Dad's mom and although I didn't spend that much time with her while I was growing up, we became closer during the last few years of her life especially when I became a mother myself. 

Ima was just as lovely as Mommyla but hers was more of a quiet beauty. Growing up, I knew her as being demure and submissive, very motherly which I think, in hindsight, characteristics my Mom chose to emulate as a mother and as a wife. 

Ima was a teacher who decided to become a full-time housewife like most of the married women in the time of the second World War. One time when my Dad was boasting as usual to me and my cousins that he was the favorite child, Ima told a story of how she braved a tornado after the war, 6-months pregnant and tugging along her eldest daughter Auntie Ising and my Dad who were both toddlers. Tatay was away so Ima had to save herself and her children and as they were running for shelter, my Dad was throwing a tantrum and crying really loud. Ima shouted, "tumigil ka kungdi iiwanan kita (stop it or I'll leave you here!)" My cousins and I laughed so hard as my Dad was put in his rightful place by his mother!

Ima and Tatay started a family with almost nothing, having newly moved to Manila from Tarlac. As Tatay worked as an electrician, it was Ima who had the entrepreneurial spirit and her chicharon was what made their family of six children get by. Before laundry services even became a popular business venture, Ima had already laundry contracts back in the early 80s with Vicks and Procter and Gamble when their production plants were still in Manila. 

I remembered when I became a solo parent, Ima would often tell me to get married someday, reminding me that I was not meant to live my life only as a mother. Was surprised with her advice, coming from someone who was known to be a dedicated mother. Ima explained that she didn't want me to end up like her older sister who became a widow at 24, never remarried and in her old age became estranged from her only son who lived abroad. I was touched by Ima's hopes for me that I would be with someone whom I love and be with me in old age. 

In the first few years after my Mom died and we had to move out of Mommyla's house, we spent our New Year's Eve at Tatay and Ima's house for the first time. I was so depressed back then, missing my Mom and fantastic New Year's celebrations at Mommyla's house, that I ended up with an intense flu, spending the entire evening in Ima's bedroom while the rest of the family celebrated outside the house. I pretended to sleep so that relatives would stop asking me if I were okay every five minutes but then I heard Ima come in and lie down beside me and stayed there, patting my back as if she was putting a baby to sleep. I don't think she knew because my back was turned to her but I was crying the whole time, feeling her love and understanding without words and with just a simple gesture. I may not have grown up close to Ima but she let me know how much she loved me in that last New Year we spent together. Ima passed away in May of the following year, barely 6 months after Tatay died.

Looking back and remembering the lives that these fascinating women led, can't help but think that I owe them both the traits which makes me a better person, better mother and better woman now: Mommyla's unwavering faith, Ima's unfailing love and both their fierce perseverance for their families. These are indeed the inheritance that no amount of money or jewelry could surpass. 

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Friday, November 2, 2012

God Knows

While channel surfing, I caught the tail end of a Jimmy Stewart film entitled, The Mortal Storm, and heard this beautiful line: 
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went into the web to look for the complete text and found out it was from a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, a noted British academic on sociology and economics.

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