|Mely, my mom|
Mely, my mother was a woman of few words. She was not like other women in our Pasay City neighborhood. She hardly went out except to church or to the market. She didn’t listen to or forward gossip. She was not judgmental but was always conscious of what others might say.
Once a month she took me to visit her in-laws, my father’s family in their home in Makati City. My mom whispered the same instructions to me each time. I was in grade school and she wanted to be sure I remember and practice it. Here’s what she said to me:
“When you get married, you have to support your husband’s parents financially. After all, you won’t have that husband if they didn’t give life to him. Whether they ask of it or not, give them a monthly share from your budget.”
During Christmas season, before the 13th Month Pay became a law, my mother had an envelope with gift cash ready for each, to the mailman, the electric meter reader and bill collector, the water meter reader and bill collector, the beautician who does her hair, two housekeepers/nanny, and the dressmaker, (this was before the malls were built.) For the men on that list, I was assigned to hand the envelope, for modesty’s sake. If any indigent came knocking at our door, my mother never said “no”.
When relatives came for a loan or any financial help, she gave as far as she can afford. On those times, she said to me, “You have to be generous so that when you have children of your own, people will return the favor to them.” Or she said, “You have to be supportive to your brothers’ wives, so they will make your brothers happy, the same applies to your children’s spouses.”
My mother treated the housekeepers as family. She refused to make them wear uniforms because she thought it put them down. When I needed a chaperone going to dance parties, my mom insisted I took one of them with me. Tina (in the photo), became like a sister to me. I taught her the prevailing dance craze and introduced her to my friends as part of the family.
I am just now realizing how my mother’s generosity affected my character. It developed in me the social consciousness that guided my journey in this life.