Edwin Aquino, a retired bank executive, misses most of the family get-togethers that his family used to have--and it's especially poignant this coming Mother's Day. His mom Amelia passed away in 2019, while his dad Pedro Jr. passed on four years earlier. Mother's Day, in particular, was a very special
occasion that they celebrated with gusto.
"The perfect Mother Day for me is spending the day with Mommy and Daddy and the whole family, in our ancestral home in Project 6, where we get to eat a sumptuous meal, for example, steak, prawns, with ice cream or cake as dessert). After lunch, we watch a movie on TV or sleep. Then, another round of eating a sumptuous merienda. Then, we leave for home in the late afternoon."
"My favorite part is knowing that we are all present: my mother, father, sister, my wife, three sons, one daughter-in-law, and our apo. If my twin sister and her husband and two sons visit from the US, it becomes a bonus and a blast". Edwin recalled.
Whenever the entire family was complete for Mother's Day, they make it really special. This meant going up to Baguio and booking themselves into two suites in the Manor Hotel.
"We eat lunch in Baguio Country Club either in the veranda--with our respective favorite orders--or in
the Japanese restaurant where a chef gives an impressive cooking demonstration while we all watch". Edwin said.
“Ame,” as called by friends and family, was a devoted public school teacher in Torres High School in
Tondo, Manila, but gave up that career to care for her children full-time. She gave birth to three kids --the eldest child, Melissa, and followed by the twins Edwin and Edwina. Pedro Jr. or fondly called “Romy” worked for the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Edwin remembers his mom as a strict disciplinarian, but also a very loving person who taught them lasting life lessons.
"She taught us about the value of hard work and savings. My mother was big on savings – she was very
thrifty, given the limited resources. And we the children learned to live with it, adopting her ways and
saving money whatever little we can set aside, “ said Edwin
"I remember when I was in grade school, I would go around our campus picking up empty soft drink
bottles and returning them to the canteen in exchange for five or ten centavos."
He also credits his mom's guidance and discipline for their impressive scholastic performance from high school to their undergraduate and graduate studies.
"Because of the discipline and hard work which we learned from our mother, we performed well in
school. My two sisters graduated cum laude. [Melissa graduated Accounting, while Edwina finished
Statistics]. Our eldest ranked eighth in the accounting board exam,” said Edwin.
"We all finished our Master's graduate studies [at the University of the Philippines]. My twin sister proceeded to take up her Ph.D. in Economics in Michigan State University [in the United States], where
she qualified for a scholarship."
Part of the childhood discipline that they received was doing chores around the house.
"In our house, we grew up to do household chores. I was assigned to apply the floor wax and do the scrubbing" said Edwin.
Edwin also remembers his mom as someone who stayed calm and classy even through challenging circumstances.
"When my son announced to the family that his girlfriend was pregnant, my mother accepted it coolly,
saying it was a gift from God. But not my father, who even cried, fearing that my son was not yet prepared to be a father."
Celebrating her life and legacy
Edwin looks back and says his mother's greatest legacy is really how well she raised him and his siblings, helping them grow not only as successful persons in good standing but more importantly, shaping their values so that they know the importance of hard work, spending and saving wisely, and being kind to one another.
Before the community quarantines due to the pandemic, Edwin and his siblings and their respective
families would go to Heritage Park in Taguig to celebrate their parent's lives and legacy. It's their opportunity to bond as a family and share precious family memories.
"When my father passed [away], we visited Heritage Park every weekend to spend time with Daddy. That was the time I purchased a foldable tent while my sister provided the foldable chairs and tables. Our visits diminished over time. When my mother passed [away], the whole family would visit both Daddy and Mommy in Heritage Park during their birthdays and death anniversaries."
This Mother's Day, the pandemic and existing travel restrictions will be keeping Edwin, his siblings, and their families apart. However, they draw strength and love from the memories they shared during their visits to their parents in Heritage Park and this helps them keep hoping that one day, they'll have another sweet reunion as a family at Heritage Park once again. It's a hope that burns brightly in their hearts, knowing that their family bond will never be broken.