What is our primary duty as feminists and as women? I have always believed it is to acknowledge our mothers, the women who came before us, pay them homage for all that they have done to ease our way, and thank them for taking risks and blazing trails. – Rina Jimenez-David, Honoring our mothers, At Large,
It all started when they became mothers. I am not sure if it was the works of the hand of fate, but I am confident it was one of life’s playful moods. They thought otherwise. For them it was the sort everybody would call life’s mystery, something beyond anybody’s control, something only God can answer.
Four women are connected by the blood and by their experiences. Olga, Ayda, Vina, and Ella (not their real names) are average siblings by this world’s standards. They belong to a brood of seven: three men and the rest are women—four sisters whose lives are no different than the others but should stand as an epitome of grace under pressure. Here are their stories:
Olga was the second child and the eldest among the ladies. She is a mother to three healthy children and a loyal wife to an overseas Filipino worker. Her husband works as a chef in
This pains Olga more than anything. She recognizes her husband’s duty to his original family but believes that his real family is with her. Just recently, her husband arrived from abroad, but it took Olga two weeks to finally know. The arrival was kept secret until she called her in-laws for news. Countless arguments have been battled but to no avail. The other family seems to have signed an immortal deal with its son, forcing a lifetime guarantee of support in spite of Olga and their kids.
Ayda is second among the ladies. She has four children who love her dearly. She works as a general clerk for a famous drugstore for more than two decades now. With that it could be said that she is luckiest financially, but luck does not end with the money. In 2001, something happened on the eve of May 19th, Saturday. All of a sudden her husband shook wildly in his sleep, and death stole his breath away from him forever. Bangungot, in local parlance, took the best of him and his family.
It was difficult enough to be widowed and to take charge of the family alone. In one night only Ayda became both the light and the pillar of the home—roles she has to play as long as she lives. Now that her husband is gone, she has to provide for the education of her four children. And with soaring inflation in the prices of commodities, even her two decades of work are insufficient. Every now and then she has to ask help from relatives and friends, even from many lending institutions.
The ordeal does not end there. Aside from supporting her children, she now has to provide for the rest of her extended family. Since she is the one blessed to have a stable job, the burden of carrying all household expenses falls on her.
Vina comes third among the ladies. She is a college graduate but finds herself unlucky with employment. She has been to so many jobs but, time and again, got sacked or rejected for reasons that were rather hard to grasp. Everything was supposed to change in 2005.
She applied for work as a domestic helper in
The agency sent her to another employer immediately. Vina’s new boss was generous and nice, but it was temporary. It happened that she was just placed there while waiting for the original helper. So when the helper finally came, she was sent back to the agency. The agency gave her an employer one after another, but all was in vain. Her fourth and final boss sent her back to the
Ella is the youngest among the four sisters. She recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It would have been a perfect moment to celebrate life until she realized that her son would not have a father. She is almost 40 years of age when she got pregnant because of an affair with her officemate, a married man with children of his own, in a call center agency. Fear of getting old lonely pushed her to commit the mistake.
After all this time, Ella believes that she is blessed for having the baby. Many mothers would have succumbed to abortion but not her. She said her conscience and fear of the Lord became her armor. Though a single mother, she is ready to face the consequences of her actions and decisions. At this point in time, she might be back to her work, planning and preparing for her son’s future.
We are mothers
Olga, Ayda, Vina, and Ella seemed destined to suffer life as they all reach motherhood. But they know too well that being a woman in this society is tough. Where patriarchy rules, women simply follow. Even with the travails they face, the four sisters remain strong to their posts and faithful to the God they worship. “May awa ang Diyos.” God is merciful—is their philosophy, their mantra of war.
“Like mothers the world over, mothers in the