By: Juliet Ugay
I have two mothers. You might think I am being silly, but it is true, I do have two. Both women played a part in my life, and made me the woman I became. Two women, opposites in many ways, yet I love both of them dearly. I may not be very vocal about it to them, but deep in my being I do. I may not talk to them often, maybe it’s just being me, always quiet, but they are always in my mind.
Let me start with Lolita – my biological mother. My father and the people close to us often called her “Kadi” or “Lita”. My mother has always been skinny. I am not sure if having 7 kids made her that skinny, or it has to do with her metabolism. I think I got her genes, I am skinny too, or should I say slim or petite? I think that sounds better. Lolita spent most of her life being a housewife, taking care of my siblings and working at the farm raising cows, chickens and goats, and planting corn, peanuts and sweet potatoes as big as an adult head. I can’t remember the last time she actually took a holiday or went somewhere else other than our town or the nearby city. I remembered when we were little, she used to scream all the time when we were naughty. Her voice was so loud in a tiny body; even the next neighbourhood could hear it. She used to give us a pinch, or the cane if we didn’t follow her rules. I used to sneak out of the house after mealtime to escape from washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. The next thing she knew, I was at the neighbours playing “sungka” or “Chinese garter”. The moment I came home, I’d expect a punishment from her. If there was one thing I hated about my mother, it would be her smoking. It is odd because when she smokes, the part that you light up would be inside her mouth. I can’t still figure out until now how she managed to do that. It must be painful if the hot surface of the cigarette touches any part of the mouth. But yeah, that’s my mother. She can be funny at times; she’s got this unique laugh that I always love to hear. My mother has been through a lot in life and I admire her patience, and the sacrifices she has made for her family. Since I started working in Singapore, she has been taking care of my son, 10 years now. Despite her losing an eye in an accident a few years back, she still manages to pull through everything, and I thank her for that.
My other mother, Patricia, lives in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines. Her family and friends call her “Patring” or “Alling”. She is the sister of my father’s father. She is actually my grandmother. She took me to her house in the city to live with her when I was 5 years old. At that time, I was still too young to understand things, but I remember how much I cried when I left. Maybe because it was my first time away from my family. It was hard at first, the adjustment, the people around me and the new place. But it didn’t took me long to like living in the city. Unlike my biological mother, Inang Alling as I called her, is the type who is soft spoken and has an aura of calmness. Even when she was angry, she still spoke softly. I think I acquired some of that behaviour from her. She used to sew me dresses for school and for my everyday clothing. I was her model for her craft. We used to sleep in one bed, and I loved her soft and thick blanket. She got so upset whenever I peed on the bed. We went to church every Sunday, attended black rosaries and she took me anywhere she went. She taught me about religion, but my beliefs and principles have changed over time. I enjoyed climbing up the pine tree beside the house to pick her some passion fruit or Spanish tomato fruit. We used to go pick some “chayote” for dinner, and leaves for her pet pigs. I spent most of my childhood with her. Good times, sad times, they are all part of the memories. Some of the values I learned from her got me through life.
These are just some of the many things that describe my two mothers. Inang Lolita is now 59, and Inang Alling is 76. Two women, with opposite beliefs about life, living in different worlds and yet they are both extraordinary women to me. If one day, when I have enough resources and I’m given a chance, I would like to take them somewhere nice. They deserve to get nice things and experience good things in life because they are great, they are my mothers.