(This is a post I originally wrote in 2008. )
me and daughters1

When my two girls were in grade school, I’d often hang out with the mommies at the waiting shed, eagerly waiting for our daughters’ class dismissal. We called each other “classmates”. Starting from nursery till sixth grade, I had my gang of mothers. In one of our idle talks, we compared child rearing practices. One of these was handling our daughter’s suitors and request for parties once they reached high school. The topic was met with dread and fear of our daughters mixing with the wrong crowd or better yet, having a boyfriend at so young an age. I formulated my own set of ideas which proved to be a learning experience.

This is not a definitive guide for Filipina mothers since we each impose our own peculiar guidelines for our daughters but maybe you can pick up a tip or two. For the guys, it is a preview of the twisted mind of a typical mom and her feelings towards their daughters’ suitors. With Lauren’s permission to illustrate examples, here are my own guidelines.

1. Just because she is your daughter doesn’t mean she is like you.

I had this notion that my daughters shouldn’t have a boyfriend while in high school, the same way my parents brought me up. I made my rules clear : No dating till 18 years old but you can entertain phone calls, visitors and attend parties.

I thought I was a liberal mother. I mean, look, I still gave freedom for my daughters to mix with guy friends and hang out with them. But then, I learned something much later on. There are two types of teen girls. There is the ligawin, the feminine, charming, smart girl and the suplada, the girl (like me) who likes guys but do not appear charming to them.

One of my girls fell into the ligawin category.

When my twelve year old girl started receiving phone calls from guys, her dad warned me that she might be like his sister who had a boyfriend in high school. I brushed Butch fears away.

No, she won’t have a boyfriend because like me, I didn’t need to have a boyfriend in high school.

There was a NO BOYFRIEND rule imposed and the girls knew that. I thought it was clear.

Until one afternoon…I received a phone call if I could “supervise” the times my daughter and her son were together in either of our homes. I raised hell there and then and started yelling at my daughter to come to the phone. Oh yes, I screamed, to put it mildly. Being a control-freak mother at that time ““NO OFFENSE ON YOUR SON, BUT MY GIRL CAN’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND.” My voice sounded a notch higher than usual.

I started rattling off that my husband would raise hell if he found out she had a boyfriend. I never told Butch that her daughter had a boyfriend. She was only 15. Livid with anger, she was grounded the whole summer.

2. Never set rules in stone. Be flexible.

When I look back at this incident, my anger was not because Lauren had a boyfriend. I was mad that she betrayed my trust. In my anger, I refused to be flexible. Maybe, I should have agreed to the “supervision”. Did it destroy my relationship with her? I guess it did. I felt that it strained our mother-daughter relationship for a long time. I should have sat down with her and set the boundaries of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Looking back, I don’t have regrets. The boyfriend was a delinquent who kept flunking his classes in high school. The parents eventually sent him to the states. I believe it would not have worked out in the end because my girl was serious with her studies. I met the ex-boyfriend in my home a few years ago. Well, he looked a bit weird with his mohawk hair but I found out he has yet to take up some college education. Go figure.

3. Don’t be too chummy-chum-chum with the suitor or boyfriend.

Mommies tend to empathize with the rejected suitor or the dumped boyfriend. Often, the mommies feel the guy’s pain of rejection. The mom feels bad especially if she believes that this particular guy is very suitable for their daughter. But the daughter doesn’t think the guy is for her. Yes, I was like that too. kawawa naman siya. Kausapin mo!. (what a pity. You should talk to the guy)

I know of a mother who talked to the suitor all afternoon because she took pity on the guy when her daughter refused to see the suitor. In fact, this mom dragged second daughter to talk to the rejected suitor. Funny thing is the second daughter and rejected suitor became a couple. When my daughter dumped a suitor (who often talked to me via instant messenger) in favor of another guy, I was flabbergasted. I uttered the same line too. I felt sad for the dumped suitor.

And my daughter coldly replied eh, why don’t you talk and comfort him?.

4. Trust your instincts. Give your opinion on the guy and let it go.

Okay I was disappointed with her college boyfriend who dropped out of school. I also felt that my daughter was second choice after the guy got dumped by her friend. Still a control-freak mother, I confronted her and minced no words about my honest opinion of the guy. I have my reasons but I’d rather not mention it here. Mothers have instincts , you see. The problem with me was that my approach was old-school, manipulative and controlling. Now I know better. I should have just said my piece then let it go and allow her to make mistakes. But no, I told her she couldn’t see this guy. PERIOD.

That did not prevent them from being together despite my objections. Inspite of my stringent rules, I have to give her credit for not eloping with her boyfriend (a friend’s daughter did just that and had a baby soon after.)

5. Get to know the potential boyfriend material. Do some research.

When my daughters confide their crush, I often ask for a photo just to see how they look like. Often I’d agree and nod “Oy, he is cute.” One day, my girl showed me a friendster url of her crush. Sure the guy was a looker. But what did I see? Oh my…photo after photo, her crush was wrapped around with a different girl. I asked “you want to be another collection?”

If you’re tech savvy, you know there is that nifty search engine at the click of the mouse. The suitor might have a blog too, you know! A word of caution though. Don’t judge the guy based on the blog content alone. Entries may contain sarcasm, embellishment or prone to misinterpretation. But as I mentioned in number 4, say your piece, then let it go. Nagging is not going to stop your daughter from liking a guy.

6. Give basic sex education.

I don’t mean, encourage sex. In fact, I remind them that abstinence is a healthy practice to follow. But things happen. A friend told me that she wished she had given sex education to her 18 year old daughter. Her daughter’s first sexual experience led to pregnancy only because she thought she’d never get pregnant.

So I often say, ““Don’t even believe your boyfriend when he says he has protection”“. Then I add just one tiny drop contains millions of sperm to impregnate you. It takes only 1 sperm cell!. It’s not a comfortable discussion, mind you. My daughters cringe with awkwardness every time I babble on sex education. I’d rather see them cringe during my lecture than see them cringe in pain with an unplanned pregnancy.

7. Express the ideal qualities of a guy.

Eventually, I allowed my daughter to continue the relationship with the guy (in number 4) after I discovered they were still together after a year. I believed it would not last long anyway. Secretly, I was hoping she’d see my reasons eventually. I often dropped hints on the qualities of the guy that would suit my daughters. I don’t really know if they listen to me. Moms know a lot more about their daughter more than they even know themselves. We just hope it sinks in. In the end, it’s their life. It’s their choice. Mothers can only guide.

Funny thing was my daughter ended the relationship with this guy two years later, for the reason that I objected to in the first place. I allowed her to make mistakes. I could have said ““I told you so” after my instincts proved right.

My daughter often tells me that I am a cool mom now that I am more laid back. I had to pass through being an uncool mom to be a cool mom.

Any guidelines I might have missed?

““If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”

cory aquino

Cory would have turned 77 years old today. In a speech that Noynoy Aquino delivered at her birthday mass, he said

Perhaps if we try to keep her spirit alive in our own daily struggles, we would realize that she did not really just leave us. She is in our dreams of having a government that works, that makes justice and a decent life accessible to every citizen. She is an inspiration on so many levels.

For those who have lost loved ones, their lives continue to live on in our hearts, in our memories, through our work and advocacy. This blog is a testament to my love for my son, to my father, my mom and two brothers who have gone before my dad. By being of service, I keep their memories alive.

I looked up to Cory Aquino for having the courage to fight a dictator and restore a democracy. I am forever grateful for that.

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Bloggers’ meet with BB Gandanghari is on Saturday, March 14 at Mag-net, Bonifacio High Street, at 3-5 PM. You can Sign Up Here

I am absolutely charmed by BB Gandanghari. “Call me BB” as she hugged me. I found out that it is spelled BB not Bebe. BB is actually derived from her own motto Be all that you can be or be all what you want to be and from her first name, Binibini. The Gandanghari came from a family name of a UST beauty queen which caught her attention and thought it was perfect for her. She is beautiful, much prettier in person than photos shown in newspaper and magazines. With just light powder on her face, lipstick and faint blue eyeshadow on her eyelids, BB looks like a sweet schoolgirl. “I want my skin to breathe”, she says. Simple , classy and bubbly. Her happiness shows in the glow of her face and the smile that escapes her lips. It must be her newfound peace that makes her look and feel beautiful.

Before Dine and I started our interview, BB was more interested in us and started to ask questions about our blogs. You can see the concern in her eyes as she asks about the circumstances on how my son died. It was like talking to an old friend. No awkwardness, no airs.

I took photos of BB as we continued to banter about her new life and before the video interview. How absolutely charming! She flashes a smile now and then, an aura of happiness surrounding her that I can feel the positive vibes. I see nothing pretentious about her. I was with her for over 6 hours. She is BB.
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A multinational company recently interviewed me on the current and emerging behavior patterns and values of Moms in the Philippines in terms of family and lifestyle. Now I told the marketing guy that I can only speak for myself and observations of mommy friends. I agreed to cooperate because my inner-researcher was curious on what these marketing guys are fishing from moms.

I opened the door to a very young man with a video cam. Oops, so he’s going to take a video recording of the interview. After checking that my nose was not shiny, I started to answer his questions:

1.What is the true role of a mother?

My role as a mother changes in every phase of my child’s life. As a mother of babies and toddlers, I devoted full-time attention to their physical and emotional needs . The first three years holds a child’s highest potential for learning so I wanted to be there to nurture their growth. I rarely left the house for long periods of time till the kids went to pre-school. As a mother of teenagers, my role had to adjust a little. They were the turbulent years. It’s hard seeing them grow so fast thinking they are just babies. I knew I had to let go of being a control-freak without being too liberal. I failed miserably as a mother to Lauren, the teenager merely because I thought her personality was like mine. The more control I placed, the more she rebelled. I learned to let go by the time L reached 19 years old. I think M was lucky because I learned from my mistakes. A mom of a 20 year old and above girls is more of a bestfriend role. I still fuss over them especially on health and security matters.


2. Does family still stay together on weekends?

As much as possible, sunday is family day. Since the girls have their own social life, they limit their social activities to friday or saturdays.

3. Do moms still do the traditional cooking?

I don’t cook that often since my husband took over the cooking job on sundays. I used to cook when the girls were still toddlers. These days, I come up with fancy dishes during special occasions like birthdays or Christmas day.

4. Are ingredients complete when cooking?

Of course. Whenever I plan to cook, I make sure I shop for it a day before. I have this grocery list application in my iPhone which makes shopping such a fun and organized experience.

5. How long does cooking time on a weekday take? on weekend?

An hour of preparation and cooking time is average for weekdays and even on weekends.

6. How often does family eat at home? Eat out

We often eat at home. Eating out is rare, probably done once a month or when we’re invited out.

7. How much have family life changed?

With adult kids at home, they are preoccupied with their friends “Mom I have a party so I won’t be home for dinner”. Gone are the days when I can say “time for dinner. As in NOW”.

8. Is beauty important in a husband & wife relationship?

Beauty is really skin deep, so the cliche goes. If one is unhappy, it shows in the face. Over time, the frown or scowl lines show. My husband thinks the world of me and believes I am beautiful. I don’t know how other husbands think about beauty. Even without my husband’s flattery, I believe in making myself beautiful for my own sake and not just for himself.

9. What are other activities do moms get involve with?

I often go to the gym to make sure my metabolism keeps on kicking. Then there is my usual retail therapy to keep me happy but I make sure I don’t overspend. Another weekly treat is a visit to the beauty salon. I love pampering myself whether it be a body massage, facial treatment, manicure, pedicure. These moments are what I call my ME time and I use this to calm my nerves during a stressful week. I know other moms are into yoga and other mind-relaxing techniques.

One thing for sure, the role of moms is constantly evolving as the kids grow up and move on to another phase in their lives. Whatever the mother role, I believe a mother should always nurture herself. How else can she give love to her family without loving herself first? Nurturing is very important in a woman’s life because we show love for ourselves. Nurtured moms are effective in their work and in their relationships. We learn to feel loved by ourselves so much that we can truly love others and let them love us.

Looks like the company is interested in consumer products that mommies buy without considering the hard times ahead of us. Like most families, I impose a Money Management policy in our family. There are many ways to live within our means without scrimping on our lifestyle.

I believe in keeping an optimistic attitude towards the future without necessarily being in denial that the country’s economy is not in tip-top shape. I expect good things for myself and my loved ones.

My Cebu-based 44 year old, sister-in-law is leaving for Louisiana, USA on Thursday as a special education teacher for a suburban public high school. It came as a pleasant surprise to her. The US hiring agency informed her of an opening on July 4. She got interviewed via Skype by a panel of 10 where questions like “How do you apply technology in the classroom?” and others were asked of her. Distracted by the faces floating in the Skype window, she minimized it and focused on the camera to make eye contact with the school staff. She made the cut and from then on, a flurry of documentation fell into place . Her H-1 visa was released last thursday. A total of $3,000 placement fee was all she paid to the US-based agency.

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If a Tim Cumper alias Ellumbra or otherwise known as Timothy Ellis Cumper or Grabbadabba via Twitter talks about me and other bloggers in a negative light, this is the story. Tim Cumper believes that he was scammed, fooled by Mayen, Tierra Maria Estates and a group of people since October 2007. It is almost 2 years after and he is in pursuit of bloggers who have written about this.

Read the bloggers entry on Tim Cumper Watch.

What do you get when you fall in love?
A guy with a pin to burst your bubble
That’s what you get for all your trouble.
I’ll Never Fall In Love Again

Mayen Betita paused to sing their love song, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”. She giggled and placed her hand on mine as if placating the pain from narrating the harrowing events leading to the breakup with Timothy Ellis Cumper (also known as Ellumbra or Tim Cumper) her ex-boyfriend, a UK national.

mayen and me

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she-ka guestingIt seems FilipinaImages.com is getting more attention these days. Perhaps because March is International Women’s Month. The black “Yan ang Filipina” shirt customized by wikipilipinas refused to fit me. I felt like a “suman”. So I ditched that and wore something that won’t make me look ten pounds heavier on TV. I had to drag my lethargic body at 6:00 AM thinking the She-Ka TV magazine (aired over NBN 4) was at 7:00 AM. At the last minute, the show was pushed to 8:00 AM. It was worth it.

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Awarding of the Winners of the WikiPilipinas Filipina Stories

Date: March 28, 2008
Time: 11-12:00 Noon
Venue: SMX Convention Hall # 3, SMX Convention Center, beside SM Mall of Asia, Manila
Map: Click on thumbnail


This is our tentative program for the March 28 event, 11-12nn

1. Opening Remarks
2. About Vibal Foundation
3. Empowering Women Through Internet
4. Walkthroughs: Filipiniana.net and Wikipilipinas.org and Filipinaimages.com
5. Raffle iPod Nano
6. Announcement of Winners
7. Closing

Wikipilipinas will host lunch in a restaurant in Mall of Asia after the program.

wikipilipinas.jpgDine, Gus Vibal, founder of WikiPilipinas, his staff and I met up last week to discuss ways to support their first online Encyclopedia of Philippine Women that they started in WikiPilipinas.org. I believe Gus is truly sincere in his WikiPilipinas’ vision to be ““the largest Philippine knowledge database”. I mean, Gus pratically invested a lot on WikiPilipinas. (A few sponsors helped though).

Dine, Lorna, myself and most of you will agree that we all want to raise the profile of the Filipinas, and be part of a larger movement in uplifting the status of Philippine women. I believe that WikiPilipinas is sincere in their mission as we all are. Here is our collaborative project which I hope you will be a part of:

230px-Filstories1.jpgIn line with the principle of honoring the diverse, beautiful, and powerful image of a Filipina, WikiPilipinas will launch a special portal Encyclopedia of Philippine Women inside the site which will compile and detail the achievements and triumphs of Filipinas everywhere. Its sister site Filipiniana.net will also have a Philippine Women Microsite containing documents discussing Filipino women, as well as selected texts from the oeuvres of Filipina writers. Through a combined effort for advocacy, WikiPilipinas partnered with Filipina Images to help promote a more empowering image of the Filipina. By having an online platform to showcase Filipina intelligence and talent, surely the goal will be closer.

To promulgate the advocacy, WikiPilipinas and Filipina Images websites will launch ““Filipina Stories,” a writing contest with the mission of uplifting the image of the Filipina.

Check the prizes and mechanics of this contest.

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