Motherhood and the Muslim faith
A mother’s nurturing instinct may just be a woman’s most important asset in Philippine politics.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is seeing a growing number of women holding high positions in government.
Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, 39, who was elected as Anak-Mindanao Party-List representative in the Lower House, is a mother of five. She is married to regional governor Mujiv Hataman.
As ARMM’s “first lady,” she is committed to helping her husband pursue his programs. As a representative, she has championed the Moro culture and most importantly, the rights of women and children, and fostering relations between Christians and Muslims. These advocacies aren’t new to her since she’s been their proponent for so many years in various capacities, particularly when in 2010, she was appointed director of the Office of Muslim Affairs.
Despite her affiliations, she doesn’t consider herself a politician. “I’m first and foremost the mother of three children who works as a social worker,” she said.
Like any other mother, Hataman wants her children to grow up in a world that is peaceful and safe and a world that will give them equal opportunities.
She pursued a bill that allows for the establishment of child-friendly safe houses for women and children who have been displaced by wars or natural calamities. The bill, she explains, aims to address the deplorable conditions in evacuations centers where women and children suffer greatly because the centers are not equipped to provide proper care and assistance.
“The safe houses aim to protect women, nursing mothers, young girls, and children and will provide health services, counseling, legal counseling and skills training,” she said.
She says her advocacies were obviously the result of the challenges of being a working mother.
“Children should always have access to their mother’s love and guidance,” she said. “A mother should always be there to help them with their schoolwork. Both parents should be present during birthdays and important school activities, especially since our kids are very active in sports and the arts.”
Hataman notes that while her career keeps her busy shuttling between her home and the Congress, she said she makes time to prepare meals for the children during the weekends. “Every child should get to enjoy food that is cooked by the mother,” she said. “My kids like my pasta—spaghetti and lasagna—and my cookies. My distinctive version of chicken adobo is also a hit with them. In fact, they always ask me to cook for their parties
The Hatamans also make it a point to bring the children to their missions and community work, so they get exposed at an early age to the realities of life and,
hopefully, to develop the urge to help others.
They also recognize the value of stability in the family, and of being always united. This is instilled in the children during an intimate bonding moment— on Friday when the family says its prayers.
“Faith is a core value in the family. We also underscore responsibility, not just to one’s self and family but to humanity. As Muslims we are told that we are God’s instruments to spread peace in this world,” she said.
Her husband, ARMM governor Mujib Hataman, describes his wife’s style of mothering. “She takes care of everything. She is teacher and counselor to our kids. She always reminds them of the importance being a good Muslim and a Moro,” he said.
She believes humility is the mother of all virtues. “We believe in giving back or sharing the blessings we have received. Whatever we have is not ours, even our own life. We will be judged according to how we made use of our time and talents. That is how we learn to be accountable through our actions,”she said.
Badge of honor
Mayor Nhiba G. Sumagayan of the municipality of Taraka in Lanao del Sur province, couldn’t agree more. She says a woman’s intuition and a mother’s instinct could be of great help for a person tasked to govern a local government unit.
She’s raising six children and she says being a mother is “a wonderful badge of honor.”
Sumagayan, 42, is now on her second term as Taraka’s mayor, a fourth class municipality with a population of over 23,000
“A mayor who happens to be a woman and who also happens to be a mother will always prioritize the welfare of the people,” she said. “The welfare of my constituents is in my hands. They depend on my leadership so I do my best to attend to their needs as much as I attend to my children’s needs.”
She adds that any mother with a career faces bigger challenges, especially when it comes to managing time between work and children. “But work is easy if you do it with utmost sincerity,”
She was one of 12 children and she credits her mother for teaching her and her siblings such important values. “My mother’s principles in life, her way of raising her 12 children, her teachings to us, her fear of Allah and everything about her summed up the way I live my life today,” she said.
She is passing on her mother’s teachings to her own children. “I always remind them to keep their feet firmly on the ground no matter how high or low their achievements in life are and to show respect for everyone. With that, I mean equal respect for everybody, no matter a person’s status,” she said.
“It is also important to have a good education and a family with a strong bond and foundation that can withstand trials. I tell them constantly to continuously ask and thank Allah for everything that he has offered and will offer us for the rest of our lives.” —CONTRIBUTED
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.