It’s Mother’s Day and once again I remember how lucky I am to have a great role model in my mom, Josefa Guerrero Maquera Fres. My mom has a strong personality and yet she manages to be a very sweet and loving wife to my father. While growing up, we knew and felt that she really loved us and would sacrifice for us if she had to. She is also the favorite aunt among most of our cousins and the favorite sister among her siblings. She speaks with gentle authority and up to this day I’ve never heard her curse or say a bad word. Ever! Not even just a tiny bad word to express frustration. But we definitely know when she is angry.
Pepay (her nickname) is the third among seven children of Domingo and Cristina Maquera from Laoag, Ilocos Norte. She used to be called “Chief” because of her strong personality and tomboy ways when she was a young girl. When she blossomed into a young lady she was crowned as the town beauty queen by the heartthrobs of Philippine cinema during her time, Leopoldo Salcedo and Rogelio de la Rosa.
Despite Pepay’s katapangan and academic excellence, she was the only one among the seven children who opted not to come to Manila to study. All her siblings studied in Manila for college – Ateneo de Manila, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas. When I asked her why, she said she still wanted to live with her parents even during college. Then she said in jest, “I felt I might get lost in Manila because of my poor sense of direction.” Unfortunately, I inherited that sense of direction. But I’m not complaining because that’s not the only thing I got from her. She is a great influence in my life and I will forever be thankful for having her as my mother.
Four years ago, I wrote a poem for her during my writing class under Tweetums Gonzales. I wish to share that poem with you as we celebrate Mother’s Day.
This is a poem for my Mamang, Josefa
Whom we fondly call Superwoman
You took care and breastfed all five of us
You stayed home with us
“Til our baby brother
was a bit older
You started your career quite late
Still you managed to do well so I guess that wasn’t late
You were the stronger disciplinarian
Under your watch no taho, bola-bola and “dirty ice cream”
Under your watch no fussing over even when I was sick
Maybe it goes with your total package as Superwoman
Who can take care of herself and expects the same from her daughter
Before you retired, you had your new circle of friends in place
To church you would go everyday early in the morning
And still have time in the afternoon for gardening
You see, you really are Superwoman who needs no caring
One afternoon, after lunch the two of us chatting
You said you’re happy and content
But I see bits of frustration and wanting
You hair has turned gray, your eyelids are drooping
Your seven decades and seven years are showing
Now I see that everyone needs caring
Even Superwoman who is not asking
Come Mamang, lay your head down and continue talking
I will caress your forehead and give you some caring
I will read this poem to you, my Superwoman, my Supermom
Rose Fres Fausto
20 January 2007
I wrote this poem a few days after my mom and I had lunch together and had some mother and daughter sharing. Even when faced with frustrations, my mom remains positive. As I said earlier no curses, no raising of voice to show exasperation. She has grace even under pressure. She always looks at the bright side of things and is always thankful for what she has.
I love you Mamang and Happy Mother’s Day to youand to all the mothers out there.