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  • Writer's pictureErwin Barona

Of Kindness, Generosity, Humility

Mama, 1933 - 2011

This is the last portrait I have of Mama. She was always prim and proper. The quintessential mother that exuded calmness and patience, especially with a brood of four brothers.

Born from generations of teachers from Ilocos Norte, Mama would always prioritize education as one of best vehicles for a secure future. I remember her as she would walk me to kindergarten each day, hand-in-hand over dusty sidewalks and gravel in Project 2. Years later, in grade school, old enough for me to understand how money was exchanged for some candy treats, she would wrap some change in a piece of paper and fastening it with a paper clip on one of my notebooks; and, reminding me to always leave 10 centavos each day to cover for public transport, in case I had to go home alone. I know she thought of us each day, always concerned and seeing to our welfare.

Mama was the person who brought the character and balance to our home and family, as much as music is to the soul. By her deeds and example, she taught us to be simple, humble, to be gentle in speaking to anyone.

She was everyone's Lola Manang (which literally translates to grandma sister), as she was felt as the elder sibling/grandma who treated each one equally and fairly, with much wisdom and fortitude to seek counsel from. She was very generous as she always provided food and small change to strangers who asked for these at our front gate. As long as she could, and had the resources to do so, she helped --- with unwavering kindness, unmatched generosity, and exceptional humility. I remember having several visitors on the wake of her funeral when she passed, introducing themselves to me as those whom Mama had supported towards their education, or in other but very meaningful way through many years, most of them strangers to me and my brothers. She touched so many lives, despite having to sacrifice at times, only for the reason to extend a helping hand to whoever asked. Such was Mama, every one's Lola Manang.

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers." --- Rudyard Kipling

In her later years, she would daily look at obituaries and often attend funerals, always saying before she left the house, that she went to these not because of who had died, but rather to check on who of her friends are still living, and to see whatever help she may extend.

Mama moved on in 2011, a month before a planned grand family reunion in Ilocos Norte. This last portrait was placed on a mantle beside her coffin, and as people paid their respects, they would say, "Look, Lola Manang's still watching over us!" I believe she still is.

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