By Jane Kingsu-Cheng and Kristelle Bechayda
It goes without saying just how important the roles of mothers are when it comes to raising children. But what if there were unexpected challenges that come their way?
Majority of Filipino parents resort to working abroad in order to support their families, due to economic reasons.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there is an estimated 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) between April and September of 2018, with majority of them being women at 55.8 percent.
Other scenarios include having parents who are diagnosed with psychological incapacity or losing them to an untimely death. These result in grandmothers stepping up and becoming second-time mothers to their grandchildren. It has become quite a common occurrence in our country for many children to be left in the care of their grandparents.
This Mother’s Day, the honor being shown for mothers is also extended to the grandmothers who wholeheartedly took on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Below are just some of the heartwarming stories that the proud grandchildren shared on the exemplary love their grandmothers have shown:
A stage grandmother’s unwavering support
At a young age of six, Adrian Rigor’s parents had to leave for United Arab Emirates (UAE). His maternal grandmother, Rose Bora, took their place in raising him. Now a graduating student of B.A. Psychology-Sociology at the University of the Philippines Visayas, Adrian looked back to all those years and shared just how much his grandmother or “Mamilo,” as he fondly calls her, has shaped him to who he is today.
When asked on the kind of upbringing his grandmother applied on him, Adrian shared he grew up in a strict and disciplined environment. One of the first lessons he learned from being under her wing is that things will not always come easily for him.
“Noong nandoon pa ako sa (When I was with my) parents ko, they could give me stuff. When I needed it, they would give it,” Adrian shared. “But in my grandmother’s house, she would say that I would have to earn for it or to have patience.”
The same kind of hard work and perseverance was instilled in him when it comes to his studies. Having been a former elementary school teacher, his grandmother was hands-on in tutoring him. She always made sure that her grandson was ahead of his lessons and was learning something, which Adrian strongly appreciates.
“There is also the value of family,” he added. “She never imposes that she’s the only one who is actively supporting me or making the sacrifices. She would always remind me that my parents are abroad and they are doing their best to give me a good life.”
Adrian and his grandmother have established a strong bond over the years. Growing up, the remaining reservations Adrian had on Mamilo eventually went away when he came to realize just how much his grandmother loves him.
“She is really a stage grandmother. In all the things that I did, she was always there and she never stopped checking in on me. I love her so much because even if I don’t feel spoiled or pampered, she always made sure that I am well taken cared of.”
The loving grandson always made it a point to bring something to his grandmother whenever he comes home to their hometown in Kalibo, Aklan or to give her presents on her birthdays. Their favorite bonding activity is buying goods at the public market where he would be the one to bring the basket and assist his grandmother.
“My bond with her is really strong. She always says na she’s so thankful for me, but most of it naman is because of how she raised me and how she was successful at it. That’s why I turned out this way,” Adrian said.
Apart from being taught to be disciplined and to give his best in everything that he does, Adrian’s biggest takeaway from his grandmother is to be grateful for every blessing that comes his way and to make the most out of every situation.
“She taught me not to complain about the things that we get from life. It may be unfair, but we get these for a reason and what we can do is to make the most out of it. Make lemonade out of lemons kind of thinking, sa kanya ko talaga nakuha (this is what I got from her),” he ended.
Grandma Nanay’s selfless love
Jemaimah “Mai” M. Luna was barely a month old when she was left to the care of her grandmother, “nanay” Sonia D. Marfil in the province. Stories were told about her parents and the destructive relationship they had, which eventually led to both parties living separately. Her mom moved to Manila to find greener pastures, but hardly paid her and her two siblings a visit. Eventually, her father passed away because of psychological challenges, while her mother succumbed to bone cancer.
Now 23 years old, Mai shared that she is a middle child, with one younger brother and an older brother who is in Qatar working as a senior manager for a fast food chain. “Siya ang katulong ko (He helps me) to support my grandma.
As much as possible, we want to spoil her with the things na hindi nya na (that she wasn’t able to)-experience noon (before). Kaya (That’s why) we are working hard to provide the best life that she deserves.”
Living a life without parents can be hard. Mai disclosed, “It’s very lonely. There is no one I can turn to for advice or protection. If I fail, go broke or sick, there is no one to help me out financially or take care of me. Because of lack of options, I had to learn how to be independent from a young age. It was about surviving every day. I need to find part time jobs for me to survive and help my grandma with the expenses. In terms of dealing with it, when I feel awful and sad, I always pray and cry to God. I ask him for peace of mind, guidance and wisdom to understand my situation.
I also share these to my grandma, because I know maiintindihan niya ako (she will understand me) and it helps to ease the pain every time I hear her words of encouragement.”
Having a grandmother as a mother can be difficult to rationalize to those who have a normal family set up. “The only adjustment period for me is trying to explain to other people my family situation. It’s hard and I pity myself na sa dinami-dami ng bata sa mundo, ako pa ‘yung walang (that with so many children in the world, it was me who didn’t have) parents? But everytime na nagkakaroon ako ng ganung moments (I have these moments), my nanay always reminds me na she loves me like her own child and she will fight for me kapag may nang-api sa akin (when someone bullies me),” Mai beamed with pride.
Of course, grandmothers can be quite the killjoy when it comes to their grandchildren. “Very old school nagging grandma ko. Nakakatikim pa din ako ng palo sa kanya until college ako (She would spank me until I was in college). It’s funny, because my curfew before was 8:00pm, nakauwi na ako dapat sa bahay. (I should be home by then.) Kapag hindi ako nagpaalam, expect ko na makakatikim ako ng sermon pag-uwi (If I don’t ask permission from her, expect that I’ll get a good sermon from her when I get home). Pero ngayong matanda na ako (But now that I am old enough). I really appreciate her and the discipline she instilled in me, because I was able to apply it in my work. It was her nagging that made me successful today.”
Arguments are also normal in any relationship. Mai makes sure that they get a timeout, and she uses this to reflect. “I love her so much and ang bigat ng feeling kapag nag-aaway kami and pag nagtatampo siya sa akin (I feel bad when we argue and when she’s emotionally hurt over something I did or didn’t do). I will never let the day pass na hindi ako magso-sorry sa kanya and aaminin yung mga kasalanan ko (without me saying sorry to her and admitting my faults),” she revealed.
When asked what Mai learned from her “nanay,” she shared two things. Compassion: “Nanay is highly sensitive and empathic. She thinks less about herself and more about others, even animals. She has taught me to be compassionate and kind to people because you never know what battle someone is fighting.”
The second one is giving: “Nanay is such a giver to the point na isusubo niya na lang ibibigay niya pa sa iyo (she’s about to eat it, but she will give it to you instead). I was a working student when I was in college, and I will never forget the time that she paid for my school tuition fee without my knowledge. She used her money that was supposedly set aside to buy her maintenance medicine. Because of that act of kindness, I was able to finish my final exam and graduate from college. Sobrang (Beyond) selfless.”
These values have been easily absorbed by Mai and her siblings, crediting this to the tight bond that they have among them. “I really consider her as my own mom. I’m not shy to kiss, hug, and say ‘I love you’ to her every time I leave the house. I am forever grateful to her, because she did not hesitate to take the responsibility of taking care of us. Kahit mahirap, kinaya niya (Even if it was hard, she pulled through). For sure, I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my grandma.”