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Make Your Nanay Proud

One Jewish writer said, “The milk we imbibed from our mothers will nourish us, and make sure we do not forget them.” Such wisdom guides the Make Your Nanay Proud Foundation as it continues to honor our mothers. Led by the indefatigable Boy Abunda and managed by Ladlad warrior Ms Bemz Benedito, MYNP continues to deliver services to Filipino mothers.

Their latest project was the 2017 Best Nanay Awards, which were handed out last Saturday at Astoria Hotel in Ortigas, in glittering ceremonies hosted by Karen Davila. The call yielded a bumper crop of 904 entries, which the judges whittled down to a short list of 123 candidates. There were ten winners and one special awardee, mothers all who showed the finest qualities of the Filipinos: resilience, love of family, pride of place on education.

May Cu Ang is all of 80 years old. This grandmother is known as the Red Cross Lady of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. She still joins two-kilometer or even three-kilometer fun runs. Nanay Mary sits in the board of directors at the Philippine Red Cross, and also volunteers for the Zonta Club, the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and other civic and non-governmental organizations.

Unfortunately, Nanay Mary’s ne’er-do-well of a husband left her for a bar girl, filching the family’s cash and jewelry. But Nanay Mary was not one to be defeated. She rose, wiped the dust off her knees, and worked hard to send her children to school. Her hard work has paid off. The children are now grown and work on their own, while Nanay Mary is now an incorporator and general manager of the Maharlika Memorial Gardens in Ilocos Norte.

Gaudencia Sugcang Tecson, 57, hails from Duljo, Fatima, Cebu City, and works at the Social Security System. She has two children and is now widowed. She is a polio victim like her late husband, but this did not stop her from finishing two degrees: one in Hotel and Restaurant Management and the other in Elementary Education. She was crushed when the schools supervisor rejected her job application, ostensibly because of her disability. But she proved him wrong, for she went back to school and finished her MA in Public Administration while working at SSS. For her, “disability is just a matter of perception,” and how she put those bad guys in their places.

Priscilla Datu Cordova, 68, is a kagawad in Barangay Calaylayan, Abucay, Bataan. She has three children and 10 grandchildren. She worked in a canteen to send her kids to school, and is now helping send her grandchildren to school as well. She has been a kagawad for 20 years, helping bring government service to her community. She also organized livelihood training programs for mothers and set up the group Kabalikat headed by Governor Tet Garcia at KABAKA, and later by Congressman Tony Roman in Bataan. I am sure my good friend, Congresswoman Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender politician, is helping her now as well.

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Clarita Fallore Valenzuela, 78, is from San Nicolas, Bay, Laguna. She did not finish her elementary grades but this pushed her to work hard and send her eight children to school. She believes that education is the only way out of poverty. She sold pan de sal and fish, did laundry, and took on odd jobs. She is the founder and president of Kapit-Bisig of Bay, Laguna, an organization for the elderly. She also works as a Barangay Health Worker; she petitioned government officials to give a monthly allowance for her senior-citizen members and provide uniforms for them as well.

Dr. Thelma Lasmarias Benemerito, 68, is from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. She has seven children and still serves as the town’s doctor. Her husband died when their eldest had just finished college. She worked hard to send her six other children to school. She taught them to live within their means and not to be ashamed to work with their hands. Until now she delivers medical services to the barangays, focusing on the poor.

Apolonia Nazareno Miranda, 60, was a former Women’s Auxiliary Corps (WAC) member of the Philippine Navy. Her husband was also a military man always assigned in faraway places. Nevertheless, this mommy soldier of General Trias, Cavite, raised her four boys and one girl, giving them undivided time and attention. All of them are now professionals.

Florencia Paras Caringal, 65, is from Pasong Tamo, Quezon City. She has eight children and 26 grandchildren. She sold fruits and vegetables on roadsides, and vended fish from house to house to raise her kids and send them to school. Widowed at 40, she nevertheless put all her children through school. For many years, Nanay Florencia, a good cook, has enjoyed the friendship and patronage of many people who got to the Quezon Memorial Circle to buy her rellenong bangus and embutido. She also does regular Zumba at the Circle, and is known for her lively and spirited self.

Dolores Barretto Dangani, 77, hails from Barangay Putatan, Mandaluyong City. She finished her B.S. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Education and has taught in her native city for 21 years. She also teaches at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. She has four children, whom she sent to school, as well as five grandchildren. She was chosen as an Outstanding Senior Citizen of Muntinlupa in 2012 and has won awards for her teaching.

Joam Merano Morales, 47, is a municipal councilor in Santa Cruz, Marinduque. She is also in the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. While raising her own kids, she never forgot to take care of her widowed mother as well as her siblings. She trained the community in disaster preparedness, and in 2009 headed the rescue efforts in her town during Typhoon Ondoy.

Estrelita Santos Calacala, 59, is from Bulacan. She suffered from schizophrenia and was abandoned by her husband because of this. Nevertheless, she raised their only daughter and is dubbed as #TheViralMom because of her funny status posts in Facebook.

The Licerna R. Abunda Award goes to Florita Brioso Santos, 46, of South Triangle, Quezon City. Widowed early, she worked hard to put food on the table and send the kids to school. She is an entrepreneur who now helps send poor children to school and also supports organizations that support cancer patients. 

Warmest congratulations to our dearest, most loving mothers.

I will have an ambahan poetry writing workshop today at Ayala Museum, 1 p.m. sponsored by the Mangyan Heritage Center. You are all invited.

Comments can be sent to danton.lodestar@gmail.com


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