Three Filipina Matriarchs | Pinay.com
My matriarchs have a deep influence on me. This post honors three generations of mothers before me.
I never met my great-grandmother Lola Agueda. She passed away at a young age. So my great-grandfather Lolo Felix, sent his two young daughters, Clotilde and Cecilia, away to the convent school of Assumption, on Panay island, to be raised in the company of women. It is there that the nuns cultivated my Lola Tilde and her sister Lola Ninî’s intelligence and refined ways. But through the years of ups and downs, feast and famine, Lola remained a humble woman with resilience and dignity.
My Lola Tilde had 9 children and all us 20-plus grandkids would agree that she has a deep and positive influence. She taught the granddaughters how to be hard-working, how to cook lumpia and be a proper lady, but she also showed us her inner strength and endurance though trying events or painful loss.
When it came to love my grandmother never frowned upon her children if they wanted to be with a person who was of a different social class or if the relationship was unique, such as in the case of a beloved son who is gay. She wanted each of her children to have love and be happy. This was a remarkable thing in a time where class consciousness is strict. Lola believed in and lived a life where Love was more important than what society dictated. Her children and grandchildren witnessed unconditional love in her.
Lola Tilde was a kind woman. I never heard my Lola say a bad thing about other people. And my Lola made me feel very special.
My Mom has 3 kids and 5 grandkids. My sons call her Lola Jo. She is a sweet, generous, brave and loyal woman. In the 1950s, she was the first in her family to dare cross the seas and migrate to the United States. My mom was only 23 years old when she ventured forth to foreign lands and then married my father. He died soon after thus my mother was left a young widow. She was an independent, hard-working, single mom during the ’60s and ’70s. She never re-married so someone could “take care of her.” She stayed faithful to my father, even after his death.
Later, my mother moved our home to the Philippines in the 70s to be close with her family. This taught me first-hand how extended family is an amazing gift and how beautiful the Philippines and its people are.
My mother was fond of baking and taught me, my Titas and cousins everything she knew—cakes, fancy cookies, decorative frosting, jelly rolls, sans rival, braso de mercedes, black forest, boat tarts, etc. We all have great memories of making different goodies with her. She made sure there was always extra servings to give away to everyone’s families. Mama also helped some of her nieces and nephews with schooling—uniforms, books and tuition.
Mom not only expected me to do well in school but also encouraged my artistic talents, interest in sports and various school clubs. She pushed me to tap my talents and be the best person I could be from the inside out.
I must also mention my Tita Ruby and Tita Bebing, mom’s sisters. Having them in my life, I noticed that I always felt good when I am with them. I realized that they too have a way of saying and doing things that make people feel special. Because of them I decided that I wanted to be that kind of person too.
And all these women taught me to be close to God through prayer.
Finally, mama used to say really corny lines to me and I realize now that these, in fact, are the origins of what I like to share here in Pinay.com now. She would say things such as “be a beautiful person, Perly” or “say it kindly, Perly”.
Raising my own sons, it is important for me to pass on to them as much as what my matriarchs have taught me.
Through myriad memories of family and intimate moments, fun and celebration, pain and loss, my matriarchs have shaped who I am today. Their bright souls have taught, and are still teaching, me how to shine.
How about you, Pinays? Please comment and share below how your moms and matriarchs have shaped who you are today too.
Omehra is also known as Inday Perla, Perla Daly, BagongPinay and NewFilipina.
She has been publishing websites to empower Filipinos for 20 years. More about her art, blogs, events, publishing and organizations at BagongPinay.