Sunday, May 8, 2011

Emiliana

She's the other half of what makes me only half-white. But she probably was instrumental in shaping more than half of what I am today. Okay, maybe half or less than that; I don't really know. The rest I was just born this way, I guess.

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I've called her Mama ever since. When I was still a toddler (or maybe even when I was still a baby), she was the one who insisted that everyone in our household talk to me only in English. And so English became my first language. Of course it made my Daddy proud that I could comfortably converse with him and his Scandinavian friends. That even when he wasn't home and a friend of his comes over, I could comfortably offer him a beer and start a conversation with him until Daddy arrives. These friends of his have always credited my Mama for that.

Well, that English-only thing became sort of a problem when I started schooling because I was totally clueless about Filipino. So she went on overdrive so that I could learn Tagalog fast. But it was just a minor setback anyway.

I remember she was hands-on with me in my studies. Although she says I learned the basics from watching Sesame Street, I could never forget that she was, like, my tutor or something -- at least in my early school years. I know she initiated review sessions with me, especially in preparation for exams. Somehow, her efforts were rewarded with my being on top of the class early on.

During tough times, Mama was mostly away to ensure that my sister and I got child support from my dad following their separation. We got it anyway. It was her utmost concern that we finish our studies and have better lives, much better lives than she or any of her parents and siblings ever did. You see, none of her siblings holds a degree.

I especially remember when I was about to enter my last semester in college and it was at a time when that financial support from my dad became irregular. There were problems, I don't know. We had debts and we needed money. While my grandfather was simply resigned to the possibility of me quitting school for the moment, Mama was bullish. She found ways so I could enroll and later on, graduate. She wanted it for me badly. She wanted her son to finish school, to have a better future, to become someone none of her family has ever been.

Mama never remarried even if she had other suitors, mostly white just like my dad. She said she was afraid that my sister and I were going to be maltreated or something if she did, that we would feel outcast somehow if she had another kid with whomever she said yes to. Okay, maybe she was just watching too much Pinoy soaps for her to think that way. But it's nice to know that we were her priority over anything else, that she loved us more than anything.

She may not be perfect (but who is?) yet I am definitely grateful that I have her as a mom. I am thankful for everything she has done for me and my sister. I am thankful to her for her influence on me, in shaping up whatever percentage of myself and my character. For everything, I am grateful.

Happy Mother's Day to you, Mama!

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