IN elementary school, I remember being asked to memorize red-letter days and anniversaries. These were holidays and celebrations everybody welcomed in addition to the most famous Christmas Day, New Year, Holy Week, and All Saints Day until more local celebrations were added such as Earth Day, PNP Day, Cordillera Day, and the 1990 earthquake anniversary.
Honestly, I have never encountered Father’s Day and Mother’s Day that are observed by more Filipino families now. It was not a celebration for Filipinos or Igorots until we adopted these from the Americans who invented them.
It does not mean, however, that Filipinos do not care about their fathers and mothers. In reality, Filipinos belong to families whose ties are stickier, just like their oriental counterparts.
In fact, Filipino children grow up around parents and grandparents and stay with them under one roof until they have families of their own. That is the reason we do not have Father’s Day and Mother’s Day on our list of celebrations. Because we, as a family, have always been physically with our mothers and fathers.
In contrast, that is also the reason why Americans celebrate Father’s Day and Mother’s Day because Americans who are a working-class society spend most of their time in the workplace, always busy making the US economy grow.
So they send their elderly to Home Care Centers called “home for the aged” because they do not have time for them. Actually, they do not even have time for themselves, no time to relax in bars nightly as we do here.
Certainly, there has to be a way for working children far from home to visit dear mama and papa living in Home Care Centers paid by insurance companies. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are the answers.
The feeling is nice when you know that your elderly mother is in the house every time you come home. There is satisfaction and contentment knowing that she is taken care of.
That is exactly what has been since our mother started consuming little food and water – my sister, brother, my wife Cleo, and my kids taking turns to look after mother until she was called by her Maker. She was peacefully asleep and left naturally on May 13, 2021, at age 88.
Through this space, her children May, Judy, and Mario, Paul; grandchildren Emiloone and Boybi, Libersol and Dong, Samertha and Carlo; great-grandchildren Zada, Ponzee, Zet, Ozshee, Marchee Xavie; and her only surviving sister Aunt Lourdes Dipas of Daclan, Bokod; nephews and nieces; her cousins, wish to thank everyone who assisted us in any way, sang songs and said prayers, prepared food and guided us in performing the necessary Ibaloy family ritual. May God provide you the strength to move on.
Do all humans have destinies written on their palms? A farmer I met in Baan, Aritao, Nueva Viscaya believes so. Unexplained instances in one’s life, he said, were part of a person’s fate and were all willed by a Supreme Being who takes charge of our lives.
Mang Luis cited instances that supported what he believed. Humans are mystified but cannot question the will of God or Kabunyan because birth and death have been written on their palms.
For instance, there are people prone to accidents who mysteriously come out alive and kicking, while there are newborns who have yet to open their eyes to the world but their lives are suddenly snuffed out.
A cousin sustained three gunshots on his chest and still lived to this day to tell his story. Then there was this pocket miner from Gumatdang whose name we will withhold who was shot with a Cal.45, rushed himself to the BGH, and walked out the next day.
Mang Luis who had to walk three kilometers from the main highway to reach his farm simply wanted to share that the means by which we or others want us to leave this earth is not immediately granted unless we are called by the Great Dictator.
One evening at Baan, I chanced upon Mang Luis as he was about to walk the three-kilometer distance to his house. Having trekked the rugged trail myself, I imagined how a 75-year-old farmer could negotiate his way in the dark, encountering NPAs or nice people around some times.
So I offered him my flashlight to which he quickly refused. He said it is safer to walk through the fields with no light or under cover of darkness, relating further that life-threatening incidents come according to God’s will. His unsolicited advice was that we should move on because fate has been written on our palms the day we were born.
So on May 13, 2021, we celebrated Mother’s Day as our dear mother moved on at age 88. And I remember my conversation with Mang Luis by the Aritao Road who said, “If it is time, it is time.”