MANILA, Philippines - The mother-daughter tandem of Suman and Anjie Gogna may be filled with Indian genes, but at heart, it is definitely Filipino.
Having lived in the country for decades, the duo, together with Suman's elder kids and Anjie's older brothers Vikas and Sam, has learned to love and live the Filipino way without losing respect and admiration to the family's Indian heritage.
"My introduction to people is always, 'I'm a full-blooded Indian, born and brought up in the Philippines,'" says Anjie, whose "foreign" look is remarkably apparent by her facial features.
The Gogna siblings grew up in an ordinary Pinoy manner, with a touch of Indian culture. In fact, the language used at home was either Tagalog or a mix of Tagalog and English. Their father was like them, Indian by blood, but born and raised in the Philippines and spoke excellent Tagalog.
Suman, however, was different.
Bound by Indian traditions, Suman left Delhi years ago and arrived in the country for a marriage arrangement. At the time, she only spoke Hindi and English, and not a tinge of Tagalog.
"My mom's really very brave," says Anjie. "Imagine being in her situation."
Suman credits her children for helping and inspiring her during her tough times. She actually never expected life to turn out great for her.
As a mother, she is very caring and open-minded with her kids. According to her, they were always behaved, and taking care of them was easy.
Anjie agrees, "We can talk about almost anything. We're like best friends; but of course, the authority is still there."
Suman is very proud of her kids, especially because she knows that they exhibit the values that she has taught them, which are very important to her.
Vikas, the eldest, is in the finance business with his father. Sam, more popularly known as Boys' Night Out DJ Sam YG, is doing very well in the entertainment industry. Anjie, the unica hija, is a freelance dancer and makeup artist.
Together, Suman and Anjie manage Gifts of the Maharani, their very own lifestyle boutique, which showcases Indian clothing, home decor, etc.
Suman says she is extremely thankful that Vikas, Sam and Anjie respect their Indian culture. "They're Filipinos in their own ways, but I don't want them to forget their roots," she says. Anjie credits her mother for being the keeper of tradition in the family.
Photo by Shaira Luna
Suman says of her kids, "I'm so blessed to have them around. They're my friends, companions and my inspiration."
She considers Anjie as her best friend, someone she can rely on, to whom she shares a lot to. "We involve each other in whatever our own interests are."
Likewise, Anjie feels the same.
"We're magkamukha (look-alikes). My brothers tease me, 'Ma? Oh, it's Anjie.' We dress the same way, they say; (but) we just have same tastes but (are) also quite different, in a way."
Where the heart is
Both Suman and Anjie describe Pinoys as fun-loving and easygoing people, who taught them how to "take life easily."
Of course, they still come back to India whenever time permits.
However, Suman says she is planning to retire in the Philippines, her home for the last three decades.
Suman says she is very happy with how her life turned out to be. Her children are a testament to her dedication and "unconditional love."
Her advice to other moms? "Show your children your very best and be supportive."
Home is where the heart is, and for Suman and Anjie Gogna, the Philippines is their "home" — where their hearts have been for years, and where their hearts will remain for years to come. - Rappler.com
(Photography by Shaira Luna. Styling by Paige Occenola. Makeup by Mica Tuano. Hair by Eddie Mar Cabiltes. Anjie's necklaces by SM Department Store. Shot on location at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel. We're counting down to Father's Day! How about you? Send us your Father's Day stories and photos with subject heading WORLD'S BEST DAD to email@example.com.)
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