MANILA, Philippines — For many working women, motherhood could be a major interference to their careers.
But Col. Maria Christina Basco, a mother of four and Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilot, is considering herself lucky because she did not find herself in such a tricky situation.
Wind beneath her wings
An active pilot for almost 25 years, she was so appreciative that her husband – a retired PAF officer and commercial pilot – as well as their children and relatives are supportive of her.
“My husband, he’s very understanding of my work, and very supportive. I am thankful for that,” Basco said in a recent online interview with INQUIRER.net.
“So whatever shortcomings I have in home life, he fills the gap,” she added.
Basco also quipped: “I admit, my husband is the better cook.”
“And my kids look forward to his cooking – they like it better when he cooks, they like his dishes more than mine.”
As an instructor pilot in the Air Force, Basco practically lives on site – in the PAF Flying School in Lipa City, Batangas province, and far from her family.
“I’m also really thankful for my auntie,” she said, noting that her aunt also looks after her four children aged 19, 18, 12, and 10 while she is deployed.
Basco, however, stressed that she maintains a close relationship with her family, particularly her children – with the help of technology.
“I really make use of technology, we have a family group chat,” she shared. “I monitor my youngest if he has already finished his Kumon activities. I always get an update from them, if they already had their dinner, why are they still up at night, things like that.”
Although, she admitted, technology could only do so much.
“I also talk to my kids. Actually, they feel sad when I get deployed, but you just have to make them understand their role, as if they are lending their parents, like they are also serving the country because their parents are also serving.”
An uphill climb
A woman – and a mother at that – working and maintaining a career in a field dominated by men is not a walk in the park, according to Basco.
“Since you are not common, all eyes are on you,” said the PAF officer, who was among 11 women out of around 300 students belonging to the Masinag Class that graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1998.
“So you are pressured to perform your best, not let yourself down, not let the air force down.”
In the face of challenges, Basco said she would always turn to the outlook-changing words of an upper class who “told me ‘don’t pressure yourself because we look at [men and women] the same, it’s your work ethics and your performance which would dictate your success to this organization’.”
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And so over the years, she progressively climbed up the military ladder. Apart from being an instructor pilot, Basco is likewise the chief of the International Affairs Division of the PAF.
She had also held notable positions in the military namely, commandant of the PAF Officer School, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Air Reserve Center, and chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines International Military Affairs Center.
Additionally, Basco was recognized last March as among the 2023 Ten Outstanding Women in Law Enforcement and National Security. The award was conferred by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Balancing act: Motherhood and career
In this day and age, mothers with flourishing careers seem to be perpetually confronted with the challenge of striking the balance between motherhood and work.
For the mother-pilot-military officer, the key to achieve this is finding a life ally who will be supportive of his partner’s aspirations.
“You have to find a partner who will be supportive of your endeavors. That is the key. I will not be successful if I don’t have a good partner and understanding kids.”
“It’s a matter of balance, I don’t want to sacrifice an aspect of my life when I try to focus on another aspect.”
“So I am maintaining that balance in my duties as a commandant, in my duties as a pilot, in my duties as a mother, as a wife,” she explained.
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