Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A 'Rock' Story
I made a promise to myself that I'd be part of a movement to discuss poverty on a specific date, and that date is today. I was hopping around reading entries from other bloggers who also agreed to this. One blogger's entry was very personal and it got to me. I decided to tackle poverty in a very personal way too, and tell you about my mom. Yes, my Mom. What has she got to do with poverty and all that jazz? Let me start from the top.
We weren't always this well off. Up till now, we're still not rich. Probably, a bit more 'comfortable' than most people, but still not rich. We used to live in the squatters area, which was near the Iloilo Central Market. I grew up in that barangay and we still have a house there. My mother used to be a market vendor. She used to sell tomatoes, onions, garlic and what nots, just like her mother. She was not the kind of vendor who owns a stall and all. She just places her 'paninda' in a piece of plywood, place it on a crate, look for spare space, squat, and sell her stuff. Yes, even in her livelihood, she was a squatter. Her story of how, vendors like her would pick up their stuff and run when the police comes, and how the police would grab the tomatoes and crush it under their boot once you get caught, crushes my heart too. One time I was in Baclaran, one vendor shouted 'raid.' There was chaos and panic ensued as vendors quickly tried to save their wares from impending confiscation. I wasn't able to move from my spot. In my mind I can recall my mother's story and I surmise that this is how it must have looked like and felt.
I won't bore you with the classic 'rags to riches' blah blah, that she persevered, with hard work and determination although that was really what it was. It may sound like a cliche teleserye on prime time TV, but really, that was how life was for her. Let's just say that my father was far from ideal, and let's just say that he was 'on field work' or even say he was a 'traveling salesman,' even. One other story she tells that makes me proud of her is her story of how, some of her 'market mates/sisters' once brought her with them to show her a trick or two on how to make a 'quick buck.' She was never blinded by money, and the easy way out. She said "I may be poor, but I am not cheap." I'm proud to have inherited decency from her, if that is inheritable. She was also an excellent money manager, and she inculcated in us the value of financial responsibility at a very early age. She was also a workaholic, sometimes, to a fault, but when it comes to things that matter, her heart is in the right place.
I'm the fourth kid in a family of seven. Five have graduated with college degrees, me included, the other two are finishing up. I am about to graduate from law school, and know the value of hard work, honesty, sincerity and dedication. Bull headed as I am, I know that what ever life may bring, and where ever it would lead me, I would be alright. All my older siblings are now professionals based in the United States, together with their families. I have been there once, and so has the rest of my younger sibs. One time, a friend told her :"It must have been hard to be so dirt poor way back then. How were you able to bear the thought of such abject poverty?" Her answer made me beam with pride and love for her : "I was working so hard to make ends meet that I didn't have time to think how poor we were."
God has been so good to us, and we are enjoying comforts that not every one is lucky to be enjoying. For that, we are very thankful and never fail to give back what we were given. Mom would always tell us that all these are just 'loans' from God, and when he sees us unfit, in a snap of a finger, He can take it all away. Work hard for the things you want to have; needs, wants and luxuries, but don't ever loose sight of the more important things in life. Improve the outer look of your self, but remember to nourish the inner one. " She's one hell of a woman, and when I am being asked what I can do to help alleviate poverty, I borrow her words: "I am not really good with world shattering issues and global discussions, but this is what I know of: The best thing one can do to help alleviate poverty is to refuse to be poor! One must make it a point to always grab the opportunity to improve one's self, and make sure that he and his children in the future will not be a part of the global statistics!" Don't you just love her? I do! She ROCKS!