By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

“When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in the ways that matter.” – Ina May Gaskin

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.

Sunday, May 12, 2024, is Mother’s Day in the Philippines. On that day, millions of Filipinos will greet and honor their mothers. Traditionally, mothers are honored this day with cards, flowers, chocolates, presents and dining out. Mother’s Day, as it is generally known today, originated in America. In 1907, Anna Jarvis from West Virginia USA, campaigned for a day to celebrate mothers as a tribute to her mother who passed away a few years earlier. Her campaign culminated in 1911 when Mother’s Day became a recognized holiday across USA.

Over the years, Mother’s Day has grown in popularity. It is celebrated in many nations all over the world in various ways. In Poland, children give their mothers hand-made cards with paper flowers called laurki. In Mexico, Dia de las Madres is a huge event where families come together and celebrate with music, food and flowers. People hire bands to serenade their mothers. People in Thailand also celebrate their Queen’s birthday on Mother’s Day. Their celebrations involve fireworks and parades. Ethiopians celebrate Mother’s Day with three days of meals, songs and dancing. Despite the differences in the way it is celebrated, Mother’s Day celebrations focus on honoring and appreciating mothers everywhere.

For many Filipinos who have lost their mothers, this day will be a sad one. I am one of them. I lost my mother a few days ago. No matter where you are in the grieving process, Mother’s Day can trigger an overwhelming feeling of loss. For those experiencing the occasion for the first time after the death of one’s mother, Mother’s Day is hard to navigate. Mother’s Day advertisements, restaurants offering special promos, Mother’s Day cards, and online greetings and posts of celebrations are extremely painful reminders of one’s loss. Complex relationships and regrets can also add another layer of grief to endure this day. For only child like me, having no siblings to talk and share stories with one’s mother, exacerbates the situation even further. However difficult, we who have recently lost our mothers must find a way to muddle through. For me, I chose to write this article to honor mothers everywhere and to remind everyone who still have their mothers to take time to spend the day with your mothers and appreciate the time you still have with them. Please believe me when I say that there is nothing more important on that day than celebrating it with your mothers or at the very least just calling them and talking to them. Please do not miss the opportunity or it will haunt you for the rest of your lives.

Mother’s Day is also the time to honor solo parents everywhere. Being a mother is a hard job. A solo mother’s life is even harder. The Philippines has up to 15 million solo parents, 95 percent of which are women. My mother was a solo parent. My father died when I was 14 and she had to raise me alone for several years. To say that raising children alone is challenging is an understatement. A few months ago, the Philippine government unveiled added programs for solo parents.

Republic Act 11861 or the Expanded Solo Welfare Act of 2022 has provided solo parents with several benefits to help them with their struggles. Monthly allowances, value-added tax exemptions, seven-day paid parental leave are just some of the benefits given to solo parents.

In addition to the foregoing, the government has launched a specialized 4P (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) for solo parents who belong to the underprivileged. There is also the program called “Strengthening Opportunities for lone parents or Program SoLo launched by the DSWD. The program is not just a one-time aid but provides continuous emotional support and alternative care arrangements for solo parents.

Mothers and more especially solo parent mothers will do everything for their children. They will dedicate their entire life to make a better future for their children. This Mother’s Day let us also appreciate them and find ways to support programs that would throw life lines to them.

This is my oblique observation.