BY ANNE QUINTOS
Our parish priest in Taoyuan asked all mothers to come to the altar for his Mother's day blessing. To my surprise, more than half of the people inside the church stood up and crowded in front of Fr. Allan.
Up to this day as an OFW, there's nothing more depressing to me than witnessing about 50 mothers, away from their children, line up right before my eyes.
While seeing OFW moms from afar made my heart drown in sadness, getting to know some of them closely wrapped me in thought that motherhood, especially long-distance motherhood, isn't for the fainthearted.
And here are five extraordinary qualities I've learned about moms through my overseas experience:
They follow their uncanny intuition.I swear, uncanny is the right word. After I left the Philippines, my mom never fails to send me a warm text message or give me a call every time I'm sad and missing home. Without me telling her anything.
OFW moms here also have that same amazing power. Oftentimes I'd hear them worry about their bunso being bullied at school. Or the Kuya who might be having the wrong set of friends. Even miles away, these moms feel the emotions and sometimes detect impending problems of their children.
They have awesome 'reality distortion field'.During my first few months abroad, a good friend invited me to a lunch gathering with her other Filipino friends at the backwall of a university near the St. Christopher's Church in Taipei.
At that time, you can say I was drawn into a different reality. All of them were laughing and enjoying the yummy Adobo while discussing all their hardships and problems at work. Mind you, they weren't loathing or feeling sunken. Although some of them only get to have one day-off every month, I believed for a moment that OFW life is fun.
I remember Ate D telling us her story of her five balikbayan boxes for Christmas. She said, "akala nila ganun kadali ang buhay dito, hindi nila alam...naku...ang hirap magpuno ng mga kahon!" She then took a handful of rice to her mouth. All of them again laughed in agreement.
The lack of Maalaala-Mo-Kaya moments even extends to their conversations with their families over long distance calls. The rose-tinted overseas reality somehow creates a negative effect on the families left behind -- with most of them thinking everything is easy. It is just natural for OFW moms, however, to tell the best stories so their kids would sleep well at night. And for them, to make things bearable.
They can see the future.It's what keeps them going: the future of their family. OFW moms envision themselves sitting at their kids' graduation ceremony someday. Or holding the keys to their new home.
The problem is, seeing the future isn't the same as building it. It also isn't a one-way street. Most of them find themselves disappointed, because while they were dreaming, their families eventually grew apart.
They are women of steel, with hearts of gold.Ate L, a seamstress we met near our home, endures the physical strain of longer work hours to fend for her newly-born grandchild. Her son-in-law wasted the money she sent as placement fee, because the boy felt stuck in an overseas job he didn't like.
She is just one of the thousands of OFW mothers who painfully tend to the needs of their families (even to the point of being abused).
They give more than what they get.OFW moms keep on giving selflessly.
They sacrifice their precious time with their kids to give them a better future. The full balikbayan boxes they send home speak of how much they emptied themselves up.
What do most of them get in return? Aloof hearts, overspent household budgets, and if they're lucky, a viral Coke commercial.
While our country may have been blessed with amazing OFW moms, they are mere mortals too who can't carry the world on their shoulders for long.
Think about it: Behind their laughter and stories, they may be lonely. Despite the gifts they give, they may be tired. And, all of them, like everyone else, definitely yearns to feel loved.