[New School] Honor thy mothers

Jean Mangaluz
[New School] Honor thy mothers

Illustration by Janina Malinis

'Their strength lies in the ability to be kind in the face of mounting hardships, hardships that were inflicted upon them by the people who took advantage of their kindness and selflessness'

Content warning: Mentions of death in the family 

I have two mothers. The mother who birthed me and the motherland I call home. 

In many ways, they are alike. My mother Vivian P. Mangaluz was kind, and selfless. Her stomach was riddled with scars and stretch marks from all the children she had given life to. My mother was a diligent worker as well, serving one company her entire life. She loved her children and worked hard every day for them. Anyone who met her would swear that she was the kindest person they knew. 

I see the Philippines as very much the same. Mother to all Filipinos, her earth has been ruptured and dried by the many who have taken life from her. Despite this, she continues to bear fruit to offer to her children. 

Both my mothers are selfless – almost to a fault. My birth mother loved and served selflessly. Relatives and friends would come to her for help when they were in need because they knew she would struggle to say no. She forgave those who wronged her almost instantaneously, for there was never a person she would consider an enemy. My mother, after all, was an honest, Catholic woman. Most of my motherland’s children are very much the same, taking after her. They are honest, good people who value their faith, who wish to exemplify the selfless heart of Jesus Christ. 

My mothers persevere with a quiet strength that no one sees, a strength that a society run by men would not recognize as any sort of real power. Their strength lies in the ability to be kind in the face of mounting hardships, hardships that were inflicted upon them by the people who took advantage of their kindness and selflessness. 

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In many ways, both of my mothers lost themselves in giving away these pieces of themselves in the name of being kind. In many ways, these pieces were taken from them, but they were too peaceful to demand them back. This does not, nor will it ever, diminish the treasure of their kindness. Unfortunately, kindness is a strength that is prone to the corruption of cruelty. 

There is one way that my two mothers are different: 

The mother who gave me life is gone. 

The motherland I call home is still here. 

In her last days, my mother resorted to extraordinary measures to stay alive because the chemotherapy treatment was not working. She went on special diets and sought alternative methods for recovery. My mother did so while assuring us calmly that she will be better, all while her light grew dimmer and dimmer. In many ways, this is where I see my motherland now. 

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She must stay alive and persevere for her children, so she will cling onto whatever method can preserve her and her family. False promises of recovery and hope will continue luring her into choices that might further endanger her. Because she is selfless and kind, she will take those risks in order to continue for her children. Her children, also desperate, will follow her will. After all, mother knows best. 

This is what I need to do differently for my remaining mother. I will not tell my motherland to be unkind or be selfish. It is not her fault that she has been taken advantage of. We must stop the people who ceaselessly steal from the Philippines’ kindness – the quack doctors who give her false hope, those who’ve corrupted and neglected her, time and time again. 

To do this could mean going against her wishes to remain quiet, resilient, and patient, to defy the abuse that has been normalized for her. Disruption however, is a small price to pay for her life. 

I can do nothing more for my mother Vivian. Her kindness and love persists in the spirit of my motherland. Her touch exists in the salt-stained winds by the beaches, and her kindness lives on through the good deeds of my fellow country people. –

Jean Mangaluz is an AB Communication student from the Ateneo de Manila University. She is also active in her university’s student government.