Today I will speak at the National Police Commission on the occasion of their Women’s Month celebration through its Gender and Development program headed by Donna Lyn Abaya-Caparas.
The National Police Commission (Napolcom) is the government agency mandated to administer and control the Philippine National Police. Its functions include administration of police entrance examinations, conducting of pre-charge investigation of police anomalies and irregularities, and summary dismissal of erring police officers.
You might imagine that this is a “man’s world” but 60% of its employees are females, albeit the top posts are still dominated by men. Do you know that this was my mother’s place of work for decades?
When I was asked by Napolcom to give a talk on Women Inspiring Women, I knew it was going to be inspired by the woman who inspired and influenced me the most.
My mother, Josefa Maquera Fres, a cum laude graduate, started out as a full-time homemaker when she and my father got married in 1956. After she nursed her youngest child, she decided to join the work force to help augment family income.
After a few years’ stint at another office, she joined Napolcom in 1972 as a researcher. She moved up the ranks to become the Chief Examiner, then Assistant Commissioner of the Personnel Division. She became the first Regional Director of Napolcom NCR and later on The Regional Director of Region 3 until she retired in 1995.
I’ve always admired my mother’s strength, confidence and her ability to be happy with wherever she was, whatever she had. I admired her for doing a good career catch up even if she started late. Envy seems to be out of her vocabulary. She always exuded that aura of being content in God’s abundance with whatever she had. Among her siblings (they were seven children in their family), she was the only one who studied in Laoag, Ilocos Norte all the way up to college. Her siblings went to Ateneo de Manila, UP Diliman and UST in Espana. She said it was her choice because she didn’t want to live away from her parents while still in college. (Later on, she said in jest, “Maybe I also felt I might get lost in Manila because of my poor sense of direction.” – something I inherited from her. )
Growing up, she was tomboyish and matapang that her siblings and cousins even called her “Chief.” Then she blossomed into a beautiful lady crowned as the town’s beauty queen by heartthrobs of Philippine cinema such as Leopoldo Salcedo and Rogelio Dela Rosa.
Some of the lessons I learned from my mom are the following:
- Speak your mind out, but do so in a respectful manner. She didn’t have to tell me but I saw her do so among family, friends and colleagues. She told us stories of how her opinions would sometimes be unpopular at work and even among her in-laws at the start, but later on be redeemed. Eventually, she would become the trusted and favored one because of her honesty and non involvement in office and family intrigues. She would rather tell you straight to your face than say things behind your back. She spoke her mind out even to disagree with her former boss Juan Ponce Enrile, which earned her the respect of this powerful man. Oh, when I said “in a respectful manner,” she may say things very direct-to-the point that it would hurt but you’d never hear her say any bad word that up to this day, I have never heard her curse. Ever! Not even just a tiny bad word to express frustration. But you’d definitely know when she’s angry.
- It’s healthy for siblings to quarrel. She allowed us to express our feelings at home. I think this openness to arguments did not only give us enough practice to argue and settle things among ourselves but also assured us that at the end of the day, we are still siblings who love each other despite our differences. This was what I held on to when my own sons quarreled every single day during their early years. Today, I am fully convinced that my sons love each other dearly, just as my siblings and I do.
- But marital arguments should be private. We grew up not witnessing a mom and dad quarreling with each other. The most we saw were tampuhans when one would be unusually quiet. This gave us a stable home while growing up. There was no insecurity that we’d come home to a single parent household. Do you know that when parents separate, children can’t help but blame themselves and wonder if they contributed to the separation? Also, giving the other parent a bad rep (even if he/she is the erring partner) makes the child feel bad about himself/herself because he/she is half of the erring parent. Before I got married, she reminded me that marital conflicts are best settled between husband and wife. Involving outside parties should be a super last resort.
- Respect is the most important ingredient in a marriage. This was another nugget of wisdom she reminded me before I got married and I said, “Of course not, it’s love!” But as I matured into my own marriage and saw other marriages, I realized that Mamang was right again. For most women I know, the last straw that made them give up on their marriage was when the respect was gone, even if the love was still there.
- No matter how tapang and strong willed a woman is, she should be sweet to her husband. Again, not spoken but caught by example. My mom is the stronger personality between my parents but she is very sweet to my father. And I guess, this made my father love her even more.
- Awayin mo na ako, huwag lang ang mother-in-law mo! (You may quarrel with me but never with your mother-in-law). I think this is so self-explanatory. J A mother will always have a soft and special spot in a son’s heart. I’ve written about how even Jesus himself could not say no to Mama Mary during the wedding of Cana, and I guess my mom was just warning me not to put my husband in a tight spot of choosing between the two most important women in his life. Connected to this is her other counsel, “Even if your husband starts expressing disgust about his siblings and parents, hold your tongue for it would still hurt him if he hears even the same words from another person.”
- No need to “pay back” to parents, just pay it forward. Growing up, she would tell us that it is the obligation of parents to raise their children well, but children don’t have any obligation to their parents. She always said, “You don’t have to ‘pay us back, just pay it forward’ by raising your children to the best that you can.” (The thing is, it is when your parents loved you so much unconditionally growing up that you would most likely love them back voluntarily and not because it is demanded from you.)
- Have friends. Even if she’s frugal, she always celebrated milestone events. I think I also take from her that penchant to renew wedding vows. My parents renewed on their Silver, Ruby, Golden and Diamond. For her, celebration is a form of thanksgiving and what better way to do it than with family and friends. She always has a circle of friends. Now that they’ve relocated back in Ilocos, she has renewed ties with her cousins and old friends who are there plus some nuns and churchgoers in the parish where she hears mass.
- Be fair. Give people what their due is. Do not fight a weaker opponent. And of course, while growing up, she and my dad made sure there was no favoritism even in the smallest of things.
I also inherited from my mom the foundation of my FQ. She is a living example of the frugal Ilocano in the positive sense, not the negative miser, stingy, niggard or in the vernacular kuripot for she always says, “Live within your means but enjoy the fruits of your labor.” I liken it to a diet. If you overdo the saving without corresponding thrills, chances are you won’t be able to sustain it.
For more of my FQ lessons from my mom, please read Money Lessons from Mommy.
My mother turned 87 last Sunday. She’s not that energetic anymore. Somehow, even the adult in me finds it difficult to accept that my Supermom who never got sick, the SuperLola who always came to the rescue when I needed help raising my sons is not that strong anymore. She has been courageously battling lymphoma for the past three years. Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the immune system, specifically the immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
She has lost a lot of weight and energy, but true to form, she’s still holding her head up high, calmy discussing with us her last wishes, no cursing no blaming God, no big demands from her children, other family members and friends. She still tries to be sweet to our Papang, fair to all of us her children and still loves to celebrate. Even during her weakest, she is still strong and not envious of anyone. She is still thankful and still recognizes God’s abundance saying, “I continue to thank God. People ask me if I’m still happy despite my condition. My answer is yes because my happiness does not depend on anyone and anything. I am happy because I choose to be so.” This is another great lesson from my mom.
I can only hope that I will continue to live my life worthy of these great lessons taught to me by this great woman. I love you Mother dear!
1. Watch FQ Live! today in a few installments. I will broadcast parts of my talk at Napolcom and interview female bosses there as well.
2. I will give a talk at the Gender and Development (GAD) at the National Police Commission on March 22, 2017 at 10am.
3. I will give a talk at the Alumni Connect on March 25, 2017 at the Decagon Silver City.
4. Want to know your FQ Score. Take it today. Who knows you or your friends may be FQ Cuties! Click link to take the test.
Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Images from actioneco.org, silhouette-women, Roger Sabio of Health & Home magazine and from the author put together to help deliver the message.