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[Mother’s Day] Two Azkals and mum

Mark Kenneth Cabusay
James and Phil tell RAPPLER what it's like to celebrate Mother's Day without their mum

LIKE A BEST FRIEND. James and Phil remember their mum with fondness and lots of love. Photo from the Younghusbands' Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – There’s a saying that goes, “A Mother carries the child in her womb for nine months and in her heart for the rest of her life.”

For Filipino-British football superstars James and Phil Younghusband, 9 months have passed since the untimely demise of their dearest mother, Susan Placer-Younghusband.

On the eve of September 10, 2011, Mrs. Younghusband complained of a back ache. Not realizing it was a heart attack in progress, she called for a masseuse.

While waiting for her back massage to begin, she died in her sleep.

The brothers were in Bacolod for training camp when she passed away. A few hours before she did, she even called her sons; James and Phil did not know it was to be the last time they would be able to let their mum hear how much they love her.

They came back the morning after and saw their Mum in the funeral parlor. 

Mrs.Younghusband’s sudden passing came as a shock to everyone, for she never had any lingering illness.

Lessons from mum

Growing up, James and Phil learned a lot from their mum, lessons that they would hold on to forever.

Both brothers agree that the most important lesson their mother has taught them is to put family first and foremost in their priorities. This is also why she chose to be a stay-at-home mom to focus on her children and always be hands-on.

She also said that they should watch over their family (that’s why James and Phil are very close); the brothers never played against each other in professional football.

“Family is the most important, that is why I cherish Phil and Keri the most,” says eldest child James.

Mrs. Younghusband also imparted onto the siblings that — as Filipinos — they should always respect their elders and be proud of their heritage.

She also encouraged her children to follow their dreams and to always put God in the center of their lives. She firmly believed that football is their gift and that — no matter what happens — they should continue playing and coaching.

“I would not be where I am football-wise without (dad and mum),” says Phil.

Adds James, “My mum came to all our games and would cheer us on all the time.”

Life without mum

Life goes on for these superstar siblings, but Phil admits that he misses her a lot. He also reveals that at times when he would have emotional problems (or any problems for that matter), it would be his mum by his side.

“I just miss her presence and her warmth,” he says.

And when it came to future plans, Phil says he always discussed everything with his mum.

“I also love to talk about the future with her, ” he posits.

The brothers admit that their life without a mother is difficult; but, as athletes, it drives them to strive harder and be independent.

“When she was with us, she would wash our clothes and clean our things — what a typical Mum would do for her kids,” says James, who proudly adds that they would always have home-cooked meals by mum, too.

“She was a great cook! She cooked all sorts of food for us!” says James proudly.

Big brothers-turned-parents

'SURROGATE' PARENTS. The brothers with savvy young sister Keri whom they now 'parent' together. Photo from the Younghusbands' Facebook page

When asked how they handle the role of a parent to their sister, Keri, James and Phil say they get help from friends and family.

“It is not easy but we have great family friends and people around us to help in parenting her,” says James.

Because of this, they both say that Keri is doing well, despite their mum’s absence.

“She is keeping busy with school, tennis, family, and friends. (I would say) she’s a happy kid,” shares Phil.

Mother’s day remembrance

Phil recounts the most memorable gift he ever gave their mum for Mother’s Day.

“I remember giving Mum earrings when I was 7 or 8 years old (which I bought) with my pocket money,” he says. “But she never wore them.”  

Years later, Phil says that their mum admitted to him that the earrings “hurt her ears.” 

When it comes to their fondest childhood memory with their mother, James and Phil say they would take on the housework to give their mum a break.

“Dad would have her go shopping or to the supermarket. And while she’s out, we would clean up and tidy the house,” say the two, smiling at the memory.

All because of mum

The brothers offer all their successes to their mum.

“Life has changed a lot (without her), but we know she is still with us,” says James. “We want to continue to make her proud because she is still watching over us.” 

When asked if they have any regrets for things done or undone, the brothers reply, “We don’t have any regrets at all. We had and will always have a very strong relationship with her.”

TOGETHER FOREVER. James, Phil, and Keri know that they will always have mum on their side. Photo from Cathy Nazareno-Rivilla

James and Phil leave this advice to mothers and children who are still together, especially on Mother’s Day month:

“Spend every moment you can with each other. Never hesitate to remind each other how much you love each other.” – Rappler.com


(Already planning your surprise for Dad on Father’s Day? Share your sneaky plans with us! Email us your story and photos with subject heading WORLD’S BEST DAD to desk@rappler.com. On June 17, Father’s Day, 3 PM, join us for a live Tweet convo on Twitter @rapplerdotcom #loveyoudad.)


Click on the links below for more mother’s day stories.

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