February 2, 2023

This space was supposed to have been allotted for husbands to describe their wives during these times of quarantine in celebration of Mother’s Day. It must have been difficult for the seven men that I selected to do a short sketch of their partners as mothers, professionals, and wives. There was supposed to have been a doctor, a journalist, a professor, an artist, a writer, a chef, and a stay home mama. But deadlines are deadlines and this feature is due. I have chosen the mothers that I have admired through the years, the strong mothers.

“What greater aspiration and challenge are there for a mother than the hope of raising a great son or daughter?” – Rose Kennedy

Among the strongest women and mothers that I met in my years as a journalist were Baguio’s three witches who greatly involved themselves in the spiritual, social, cultural, environmental, political, educational, and creative affairs of the city. They were Virginia O. De Guia, Cecile C. Afable, and Leonora P. San Agustin.

De Guia was the first appointed mayor of Baguio City in the 1940s when political recognition emanated from Manila. Her beauty was celebrated as an actress too. She established great influence in Baguio’s affairs for almost a century because she pioneered in real estate and business.

Afable’s pen was acerbic and feisty through her writing career while influencing politics and making or breaking the politicians. A pioneer in newspapering with her brothers Sinai and Oseo, the family earned national and regional recognition for the fair, friendly, fearless, and free Baguio Midland Courier. She entertained and hosted many young leaders in her home. She became a barangay captain, too.

San Agustin was the first Filipina chemical engineer. This earned her an esteemed rank in the academe. In later years, she dominated the cultural and educational affairs of the city. This passion left the city with the Baguio – Mt. Provinces Museum which is today the Baguio Museum.

These three women were born in the second decade of the 1900s and they lived to see Baguio’s Charter Day centennial in 2009. They filled the pages of the news for more than half a century but they were mothers too who produced a second generation of leaders for the city and the nation.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

Lualhati Bautista, novelist, was a writing mentor to many young aspiring creative writers. She unselfishly shared her rich experiences as a writer. Her novels depict strong mothers and women in different crucial social and political times of Philippine history. She inspired women and men through her stories to rise to the cause, to be steadfast in their resolve to make the government responsive to the peoples’ needs. As a mother, her love for her children was ruled by intuition. She knew what went on in her son’s life. She was protective and strong willed as she raised her three children alone.

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

Baboo Mondonedo was a journalist who came to Baguio in the 1980s. She witnessed the struggle for self-determination by the Cordillerans in the face of the Chico Dam issue and the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army led by rebel priest, Fr. Conrado Balweg. Fearless in the opening of information from the interior Cordillera to the Manila press, Baboo had connected the indigenous peoples to Cory Aquino’s administration for the restoration of peace. She wanted change to happen in the country. But she was a devoted mother to her daughter Elvira throughout her growing years. She allowed her daughter to participate in the change.

“God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.” – Rudyard Kipling

Cynthia Agnes C. Aban is a singer and songwriter with her husband Pendong Aban. She started as a folk singer in Baguio in the 1970s and later established the Grupong Pendong that gave Filipino music a distinct ethnic sound in the early 1980s. The devotion to music and its ups and downs was equal to the devotion to their children. In the 90s, the family moved to America where she now teaches as she continues to make beautiful music as Pendong and Chat. She puts theFilipino melody in music.

“A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.” – Princess Diana

Evelyn C. Tagudar is a retired prosecutor who defended women and children’s rights. She dedicated decades of her life in ensuring the delivery of fairness and justice. Representing the justice system in different groups and associations of government for the delivery of services to the marginalized sectors of society, her time was precious. In the midst of all the commitments, she mothered professionals – a doctor, two dentists, a civil servant, and doted on her grandchildren.

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou

These women and many more allow us to celebrate Mother’s Day each year. Not just because Hallmark cards say so but because this world needs that mother who is gentle but fierce, tender but strong, and most of all she makes the world a more colorful place for everyone. Happy Mother’s Day to all the men and women who play the role and smother the world with love.