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"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take."
This wonderful quote about mothers by the one and the only Cardinal Meymillod is something that I will forever remember. The thought that can be learned from a whole long story can be very well expressed in just 19 words.
A mother, what does that mean to you? Is she the one who carried you for 9 months? Is she the one who does not sleep at night just to make sure you are alright? Is she the one who took care of you when your hurt and sick? Or is she the one who gives you support and strength for you to do better everyday?
In all of these questions, there is only one answer. YES!
Mother. One word, six letters, and two syllables. A word that made me who I am right now.
Her name is Gloria, that is not her real name though. That's how people call her here in our place. She's the prettiest woman I have seen in my life. She's not that tall nor that slim which may not fit in most people's standard of beauty but in my eyes, she's the most perfect human being. She has that typical Igorot face; a beautiful face for that matter. Her hair is shoulder length with wavy ends. Her eyes are sparkly as diamonds. Her nose is so cute you want to squeeze it. Her mouth is thin and rose-red in color.
She grew up in the wonderful municipality of Tadian which is located in the province of Mountain Province. Its in the northern part of the Philippines.
They are a big family of eight. She's one of the 4 girls in the family. As we probably all know, living in the province is so much fun but is so much harder as well comparing it to the ones in the city. At a very young age, she experienced so many hardships in life. She grew up in a not so privileged family. Together with her siblings, they used to sell vegetables and fruits that their parents harvested in their very small backyard. Getting ₱10 or $0.21per day already brings a lot of joy in their faces. The year is in the late 70's.
Gloria did not experienced to go to a University. With 5 more siblings in a very hard life, there is no way she will be able to go to college. But, she didn't use that as an excuse for her not to pursue her dreams. Against her will, she left her family and her beloved hometown to try her luck in the city, in the city of Baguio. With ₱50 or $1 and five bananas in her bag, she continued to travel.
As she arrived in the city of Baguio, she immediately looked for a job. Luckily, she was hired as a dishwasher in a "karinderya". She was payed ₱5 per day, just enough to provide for her daily needs. She was even able to put aside ₱2 from it. Every end of the month, her accumulated savings of around ₱60, she send it back home to help with her family's expenses. Being a dishwasher isn't the only job she entered while she was in the city. She used to be a "labandera" as well. A job that she was not ashamed of.
Years passed by and the city treated her well. One weekend, she decided to treat herself out. She was alone. She still remembers walking in Burnham Park wearing a floral dress. It was a gloomy day.
During weekends, the park is full of tourists. A lot of chance of meeting people. But as a "probinsyana" like herself, she was too shy to socialize, until Dante caught her attention. Dante is your typical Igorot guy. Wearing a Lee-branded jeans, a plain white shirt with a leather jacket, and of course, the Sagada-weaved backpack.
It was just like in the movies. The time stopped and it feels like they are the only people in the park. As their eyes meet, their body moved closer to each other. Dante being a courageous guy, he asked Gloria's name. They both introduced their selves to each other that leads to a longer conversation - a conversation that Gloria didn't had before.
They tried to know each other very well and eventually, they fell in love. Fast forward and months passed by, Gloria and Dante got married. They had 6 beautiful children and one of them being me.
We grew up as good kids. A great sign of great parenting. We were happy. Sharing a little house. Sleeping on the floor altogether. An experience I would not trade for anything. But, its not always a good day everyday. Tragedy happens to most people and unfortunately, it happened to us. My oldest brother was taken by the Lord sooner as we all expected. That was a very hard time to handle especially to my mother, Gloria. As her kids, we all tried to comfort as much as we could. Telling her that we are still there, her other children to support and love her. That was a very harsh time that we were able to surpassed.
Then, time passed by and Gloria was able to moved. She regained back her strength and continued to be a good mother. She served us, dressed us, nourished us as much as she could. She developed the inner talents that we all had. Because of her and my father's hardworks, we all were able to graduate college. The only gift that we can truly give them.
And now its our time, her children to give back. To give back to the amazing love she showed us. Knowing the life she had before us, I can say that she really has that power of a Mother's Love.
"She is the best person that I have ever met in my life. She is that one person, regardless of the mistakes I've done, accepted me still with open arms. She is that one person who gives me hope and strength in situations I feel like giving up. She is Gloria and she is the best mother that I am lucky I have."