MAMA woke up to a buzzing alarm at three in the morning. She stopped short of tapping “snooze,” and eventually forced herself to rise out of bed. She slipped into her jeans and a shirt with “Rita’s Chicken” printed on it in bold let- ters. She put on makeup, prayed and made her way to the tricycle waiting for her outside the house.
Libertad is 10 minutes away, and the tricycle driver wound his way through the dark, empty streets, took a sharp right on the corner of Taft Avenue then sped up until he reached Pasay Public Market, where he dropped off Mama.
Children sold sampaguita and cigarettes. Cardboards housed in- fants with their mothers. And Mama, with many others, entered the wet market.
Mama made her way to her post, took the biscuits from her pocket and ate them. Her break-
fast coupled with hot water kept her awake. As a chicken dealer, she busied herself by distributing poultry to different stores and sell- ing them to her suki.
At the end of the day, Mama came home exhausted. By now, she smelled unpleasant, of raw meat, but she never complained. We nev- er complained either. After all, she, with Papa, managed to send all three of us children to good schools, to provide for our needs and to sat- isfy our childish cravings, all with a job in the market.
My family lives a simple life. Each day entails budgeting, covering the food we eat, the electric and water bills.
But one thing is for sure, a simple life is indeed satisfying. Dinners are laden with laughter, and we all sleep with full stomachs and hearty smiles.
To me, I thought this life was as normal as it could be until Mama woke all of us up one night, be- cause she had a migraine and was on the verge of passing out. Days later, she had explosive coughs that brought pain to her throat and chest. And she always pant- ed heavily when she went up a flight of stairs.
One day, I went with Mama to the hospital, and the doctor said that she needed to have surgery to remove something in her throat. My heart sank, and I could see Mama’s apprehension in her eyes.
I never knew that seeing Mama coughing heavily would be painful, not only for her but also for me. I never knew that some- one as tough as she could suffer from a sickness that grew deadli- er each passing day.
I never knew that there was a possibility that I could lose some- one I love so much.
Deliberate, unconditional Despite that, Mama would still wake up early to work in the mar- ket, all for the love of us. Hers is a deliberate and unconditional kind of love. I am reminded of it every day when she comes home from work and asks how my day is going and when she blesses me with kisses, hugs and everything sweet.
I am forever grateful for having the perfectly imperfect Mama to see, to hear and to feel. I am for- ever indebted to Mama who raised me, and my older brother and sister, as her little angels. I know that 18 years of caring for me can never be repaid. For now, the least I could do is work hard in school, so that one day I could have a job that would fulfill all her life’s dreams: to travel to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower, to go to America and visit her relatives, to see her family happily eating and talking in a new house, and to retire at an early age and leave the market for good. I am even willing to take a step further and leave the Philippines to study abroad, because I really want Mama to have the life that she truly deserves.
To my dearest Mama, no words can express how much I am thank- ful for having someone like you. Just remember that everything I do is for you and Papa. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!
To all mothers, you are doing a great job. Continue doing well. Happy Mother’s Day!