January 29, 2023

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” — Abraham Lincoln.
An apt tribute for 98-year-old Aurelia “Liling” Javier Mandapat. She is fondly called mama by her children and family, Mother Liling by friends and lola Bila by her grandchildren.Bila is a short version of “lola sa kabila.”
Mother Liling is from Pura, Tarlac. She met her late husband Federico Mandapat Sr., former deputy chief of police of Baguio, when he was released to her father, then Mayor of Pura, Tarlac after the liberation. Then, Capas prisoners were released to the mayors of Tarlac. They got married in 1946 and migrated to Baguio. Thus, began her 57 years of wedded bliss and about 70 years or so in their family home at Camp 7.
Inspired by the love of her husband and 10 children, she established and operated a woodcarving shop that was highly visited by tourists looking for souvenirs and provided livelihood to many residents of Camp 7. With this economic endeavor, she helped her husband and raised their children with a good sense of spirituality, being a religious person herself, and with strict discipline.The 10 children are composed of eight boys (one deceased) and two daughters. They are (eldest to youngest): Elfredito, Romeo (+), Federico Jr. (Bong), Julius (Butch), Lorna, Mario, Valentino, Federico Rey, Justino, and Anna Lia.
Elder daughter Lorna Mandapat recalls, “My mother’s constant reminder is, What you are, is God’s gift to you, and what you make of yourself, is your gift to God. She shares her family’s meals with others, especially those in need. During her younger years, she disliked hearing of family’s missing their meals. Hence, she made it a point to share their meal.”
Lorna is at present the area director of Zonta Baguio who celebrated their 50thanniversary on Jan. 27, 2019. Zonta incumbent club president is Dr. Jennifer Balatian. Mother Liling is the oldest member of the Zonta Club of Baguio.
“From my loving mother, I learned how to budget and to be friendly and to be respectful. I was taught how to save for the future, how to share and how to eat balanced meals. Mama made sure that ingrained in her kids learning plethora and upbringing is to look after one another, especially when one of our siblings is sick, troubled or in need,” continued Lorna.
“She intercedes for her kids when dad was being too strict. I cherish the thought that she always found time to give us very good advice and to talk to us about our sentiments, when we were kids. She is a full-time mom to her 10 kids. It helped a lot that her cottage industry was within the family compound, hence, she always had time to attend to us. Her greatest love was my dad and of course her children. When he passed away, her children became her rock. Mrs. Joy Ruff was her best friend,” she added.
When I asked Lorna what her mother’s best life recollections were, she said, “Being crowned the fiesta queen in their town in Pura, Tarlac in the 1930s. She enjoyed parties with her Baguio friends during the 50s and the 60s. She is extremely proud and happy of raising her 10 professional children. One of the most gratifying moment for her was when her husband Federico Sr. became the deputy chief of police in Baguio and when her son Bong became city councilor.”
Lorna, a retired business woman also mentioned that Mother Liling loves to sing kundiman songs and used to dance Philippine folk dances. She is religious. In fact, her daughter Lorna stays with her in their family home, looks after her needs and drives her to church and around the city to make pasyal. It’s her therapy. She enjoys the visits of her children who are United States residents, during her birthday every December.
“Mama is an adventurous soul. She loves to travel. She is also very fair and considerate, she does not take sides but listens,” Lorna lovingly talks of her mother. “I found it heartwarming that in addition to her 10 children, she still found time to take care of the friends of her children, her nephews and nieces and other young policemen when her husband was deputy chief.”
This Women’s Month, we pay tribute to Mother Liling. With the theme, “We Make Change Work for Women,’” we say, you are truly the epitome of a woman, a mother, empowered by her love and care for her family and her community.