Monday, January 14, 2013

A Tribute to My Mother on Her 42nd Death Anniversary

My mother Mary Go Ledesma was a high-borne woman, the daughter of Mr. Ngo Bon Kia a successful Jolo and Cotabato business trader and of Laureana Sero Lu from the rich and prominent Lu family and the noble clan of Datu Lukes Massir of Cotabato.
Mary was the first surviving child of the couple. She was extremely frail and sickly and was thus very much loved and spoiled by her father. She was a genre of the "Peace Time", educated and very modern and Americanized. She spoke fluent English, Fookian, Maguindanaon, Chabacano, Mandarin, Tagalog, Bisaya and even Tausog. She was kind and good. A gentle businesswoman but above all, a superlative wife to my father Francisco Ledesma. Unfortunately she died young at the age of 52 from heart failure due to apnea.

Fragments of memories from my own mother's narrative:
 - One day her mother assigned her to do an errand to deliver loose pearls to a customer. She put the pearls inside her dress pocket. While on the way, she passed through the market and bought some steaming peanuts from the vendors. She put the hot peanuts inside her big dress pocket and ate it along the way. As she threw the empty shells and pods away after crackling opening them; unwittingly she also threw away all the other pearls inside. She went home from a failed errand and how her mother was enraged. Her father however intervened, prohibited the mother to spank the frail child. To spare this child from spanking, afraid that my mom would get sick after the punishment, my grandfather paid my grandmother the cost of all her pearls and more.

- Mary being a popular daughter of the rich was signed up to be one of the beauty contestants for the December 30 Rizal Day's celebration. The rule was - the girl who could sell the most tickets would be crowned queen during the fiesta celebration. But when her father knew about it, he disapproved of her joining such contest. He told her to withdraw from the line up. "No Chinese girl ever participated in such event.", according to him. To entice her withdrawal from the pageantry, he promised her a trip to Hongkong but Mary was a headstrong girl and would not be bought by it. My grandfather, Mr. Go (Ngo) was of course very angry at his daughter's defiance. He withheld any means of financial support. Mother was not however dissuaded. She was a willful girl and thereby took to herself to sell all her tickets by herself. At the approach of the final day of tabulation though, when she was ready and about to lose the contest, my grandfather, Mr. Go could not bear to see his daughter disappointed. At the very last minute, he bought P1,000.00 worth of tickets for her. Just imagine one ticket cost one centavo each. How many would one thousand pesos buy?! She won hands down and toppled all the rest of the girls. During the coronation,  "I was not the most beautiful girl but my dress was the prettiest." my mother confessed. Her gown was made and shipped all the way from Manila. At the parade, upon approached of her float near home, her father proudly fired a long rounds of Chinese firecrackers to proclaim her victory.

- During World War II, Mr. Go and his older children Mary, Pilar, Fernando and Ernesto escaped the Japanese by way of hiding in the recesses of the Rio Grande River of Mindanao in a place called Cocal owned by my great maternal grandmother Cadidong Sero Lu. (While Laureana Go and the younger children Josefina, Araceli and Violeta stayed in Cotabato City). Not long after, my mother lost her father to illness during the Japanese occupation and thus lost all the material goods and good life with him.

- Mary had many suitors, but my father the poor Francisco and his friends came to comfort the Go siblings in their hard times during the war by visiting them in Cocal. They brought them reading materials and entertained them by way of play acting Chinese mythical and/or historical tales. Mary decided to marry Francisco soon after the war. Her mother Laureana however was against the match. She asked the police to detain Francisco for corrupting her daughter's mind. Mary came out of her hiding in Cocal, went to the municipal hall and asked for the released of Francisco. She said. "I am 25 years of age. I am of the age of maturity. I am marrying this man of my own free will and volition. He is not forcing me to do anything against my will." So on April 4 of 1944, thus Francisco and Mary were married in civil rites. The married couple were feated with three days of  Kulintang festivity at the ancestral domain of Cocal with the blessings of her own grandmother, the grand old Cadidong Sero Lu of Cotabato.

From my own memories:
- I could remember vividly, Mama used to wake up very early in the morning at around 4 AM to open up our sari-sari store and our two pump gasoline station. She also went to sleep early in the evening while the children tasked themselves to study their lessons at night. But, she could stay up late on movie nights to watch double program film showing with my father at least once or twice a week. She would also stay up with my uncle Fernando whenever he came to visit Cotabato and listened to his stories. She was an avid fan of a nightly radio drama called "Hannibal Ibarra". I used to follow the daily soap too by listening with her.

- Despite her modernized brought-up, I'd never known a woman so conservative in appearance. She intentionally wore dark or subdued colors to indicate her matured status. She bore no make-up, not even lipsticks. But sometimes how I wished she could be prettier in many ways.

- As a mother, she forbade me to swear nor use any certain coarse phrases or rude Chinese words. I pictured her as a wise woman proper in speech and action. She, who did not talk nonsensibly or gossiped about others. Mostly, she just minded her own business, took care of her own family and never an envious words for others. Despite the changed of fortunes in her life, she remained well respected in the community. She was virtuous in appearance and both in words and deeds.

-My mother was adept in abacus. She used the abacus as her adding machine. I watched her work on the desk. She had good handwriting. Her penmanship was strong. The strokes were wide and large more manly than diminutively feminine. She encouraged us children to learn typing. She bought us an Underwood typewriter and a hardbound manual book where most of us learned how to type one summer or another.

- Despite the meager income from the sari-sari store, it was important for Mama to subscribe and read the daily Manila Times and the weekly Mindanao Cross newspapers. She also bought "Women's" magazine for us girls to read. She did not hinder us neither from renting English and Tagalog comic books. Come to think of it, I might somehow be just a little bit more proficient in English than my peers because of those prescribed reading materials found at home.

- Mama instilled in my mind the importance of college education. That women of my time should be career oriented and independent. "So you can survive and work even if your marriage fails you. You don't have to totally depend on your husband." was her logical advice.

- When I was about to graduate high school, I was all expecting to leave Cotabato for Manila for my college education, as what all my older siblings did before me. Perhaps business was good enough to send us to Manila Universities. I was so eager to depart, I had not known that I will be missed by my mother. It only dawned to me  that she was reluctant to let me go, one day when she offered to buy me a piano in exchange for my staying and studying at Notre Dame University in Cotabato City. I did not accept her offer and the idea was ever only mentioned once. 

- One summer in Cotabato, when I decided to shift my academic course, I was relieved to learn that after all, my mother was not impressed with high sounding degree. She happily and warmly accepted my decision to take up Education. "That's good, for at least we know you'll become a teacher after you graduate. This course will set a definite career path for you. Unlike, what will your career be if  you finished Biochemistry?" She even advised me to take the teacher's board, not knowing she won't be around by the time I finished school. "Take the board exam, so you can have a choice either to teach in a private or public school." And even after many years of complacency after my studies, though I decided to become a private school teacher, it nagged unto me to take the exam. In 1988, I took and passed the board exam in her memory.

When I became a successful high school teacher, and later opened my own kindergarten school; aside from the good reputation, merited income and self satisfaction, somehow I wanted to prove something else. In my prayers I said. "Mama, I am happy I made you proud."

As I continue to write tonight, I know I won't be able to write everything that I wanted to say about her. At 61, my eyes are failing me. So briefly I shall end my tribute by recalling how I used to give Mama a lot of worries during my younger years specially those concerning my health and nightmare syndrome. I remember her taking me to my great grand uncle Don Eng Tsin Sero a healer for my mysterious illness, also to private doctors and to the public hospital dispensary for each and every and different maladies. She had seven children to take care of, and I guess I was one of her worse problems. She was so unselfish, uncomplaining and sacrificing, despite her own frail health. She kind of spoiled me. I was the only one who tagged along with her to parties, to the movie houses, on her vacation to Manila, anywhere and everywhere she went. My auntie Elsa (wife of Uncle Fernando) thought I was her favorite. Well, I thought so too. I knew she wanted to give me the best of everything. And I guess I was my mother's favorite child because she knew I loved her very deeply too. When God took her in 1971, I was 19 years old. I cried for I missed her so much but deep within, I thanked God for putting her to rest. Now, she is with the Lord and there with Him, will continue to keep watch over me and over us.

This in remembrance of my mother, Mary Go Ledesma on her 42nd death anniversary this January 28, 2013, the year of the Lord.

Updates: According to my sister Helen, it was not P1,000.00 but P5,000.00 worth of tickets that my grandfather bought to insure my mom's win. She remembers the amount well because from her memory of my mother's narration, the amount could pay for a grand wedding celebration during those days. I thank my sister Helen for the apt correction. Updated on February 7, 2013.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Musing the end and a beginning.

December 21,2012, the supposedly end of the world day had come and gone. The world has not ended, yet many people were disappointed. They had hoped for sorrow, misery and problems to dissipate with all physical existence, for only a general Armageddon would leave nothing else to desire for. I maybe guilty of the same thought in someway. But I shall offer some counter thoughts:
....Maybe it means an end to your hardship, and something good is about to happen to your life.
....The demise of desperation and the beginning of hope.
....The decline of bad and the rise of the upright.
....The fall of lawlessness and the coming of goodness and peace.
....The defeat of evil and triumph of God.
'The End' does not have to be so dark and morbid. You can always look at it in a joyful angle. God is Emmanuel. He will see us through and He will make us victorious.
Surely, there will be more hope and faith and love and happiness in 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

It's January 1, 2013! Happy New Year!!! New year and a fresh start. I have today transferred my old blog to the Blogger! As I began my new post, I went through the old ones briefly and realized:
1. I started blogging on December 25, 2005, and how I have enjoyed writing ever since.
2. And as I checked my old write-up last year, it dawned to me that I was able to wonderfully achieved a 100% attainment of my 2012 plans and resolutions! I was so blessed, for my wishes and hopes were fully granted. The last item of ''spending Christmas and New Year in Manila'' though almost did not come to materialize. Yet God is so kind. He sees through it that I could attain all my wishes. I have to shout out with joy in praises for his blessings! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! I am so grateful and thankful! I love you my Lord!!!
3. The year 2013 will bring in some expected relocation and changes in my family which is really for the better future of my children. I happily anticipate the new opportunities but I am kind of afraid of the challenges that come with them. I pray to God to bless all my children in their career paths and love lives. May He guide and bless them with wisdom and proper discernment. May they meet good and worthy people in their lives. May the Lord give them good health. And may their guardian angels protect and light their paths along the way. I sincerely hope my husband and I could see them prosper in life and goodness........I do pray most fervently O Lord!