March 8, 2020

On the day that I was born, the first people who ever saw me were the three most important women in my life: my mother, and my two grandmothers. I was surrounded by women for ever since I could remember.

One time, I read online that strong women were also raised by even stronger women. Do you think that that is right? Well, I think I do. My mother is the strongest woman I know, and it is from her whom I got my strength, my adaptability, and my assertiveness from. As a young girl, I vividly remembered how every time we would go to restaurants or a store and people would ignore me because I just a kid. But then she would always come to my rescue and ask people why they were ignoring me. She then, proceeded, to always tell me to always be assertive so people would not walk all over me. I mean, it worked.

Let me tell you a couple of stories about the women whom I love, admire, and respect the most.

My Mama; the woman who gave birth to me, and the woman who would give me everything she could give me in life. I would like to think that everything I am and everything that I will be, I owe to my mother. Because that is the simple truth. She has given me everything I ever wanted and needed in life, without hesitation, and without question. Well, as long as she thought that it was right for me…obviously. She is my strength, and I look up to her always because she is the epitome of the strong woman and the even stronger #girlboss that I want to become. I always tell my friends that my parents will always be my greatest loves, and that still proves true to this day.

My Mommy Ellen; the woman who saw me for the very first time ever. She was the attending doctor when my mother had to give birth, and she also happened to be my grandmother. I grew up with her, and she practically raised me as her child. She was the perfect example of how to love unconditionally. She just knew how to love, and she was really great at it. Growing up, I would nag her into telling me stories about her childhood in Southern Philippines, and about her father who was from Catalonia. I would always be amazed by her stories, and then I would, eventually, fall asleep in her lap. Ha! My Mommy Ellen was the kindest person I ever knew, and it hurts me so bad that I could always come home to her house, but I will never be able to come home to her hugs and besos anymore. But then again, I will see her in heaven. But until then, I will continue to miss her. Every single day.

My Lola Mameng; the woman who taught me to be very responsible and independent. Ask anybody who knows her, and they will tell you that she is the feistiest woman that they have ever met. She is the best market haggler, the best at getting her own way (hahaha), and just one of the best grandmothers ever. I will always remember how she would come home from New York with boxes of dolls, clothes, and goodies just for me. Boy, was I a spoiled kid! Honestly, I had such a great childhood, and it was all thanks to my Lola Mameng.

My Mama Ena; the woman who taught me how to love learning. She was my mother’s eldest sister, and growing up, she would force me to read with her in her house. I used to dread it, because what kid did not want to play outside? Mind you, I have four brothers and an immense amount of cousins who were boys, so I wanted so badly to play with them outside. But no, she would force me to read Nancy Drew with her. Looking back now, I realised that those moments were quite pivotal in my growth as an artist. She loved learning, and reading, and writing. All of these were passed onto me, thankfully. I do not think that I will ever become a writer if it were not for her. You know she had been supplying my journals ever since I was 10? And there is not a book that I will or have ever read and have not thought if she would have liked it too. Sadly, she passed away about eight years ago due to cancer. I miss her every day.

My Tita Evie; the woman who taught me how to become (well, if ever in the future) a great mother. She is my mother’s second sister, and I vividly remembered how she would always spoil me with gifts as a kid. I remember spending summers in her house with her sons and just making a lot of my favourite food. She is the ‘cool aunt’, that is for sure! But as cool of an aunt that she was, she is an even greater mother. I aspire to be like her when I become one…if ever I become one. Ha! I love her for the things that she does for me, and for all the things that she is herself. She is simply awesome, and I cannot wait to come home to the Philippines and eat all my favourite food at her house!

My Tita Alou; the woman who taught me how to be patient. She is my mother’s sister-in-law, married to my mother’s only brother. Growing up, she (alongside my uncle) would take me and her children around the Philippines just to have a good time. I know, I have a lot of cool aunts. Ha! But you know what the coolest thing about her is? It is her love for her family, her passion for cooking, and her patience and resiliency in life. She is just awesome! She is also the funny aunt, and the one who makes all the jokes. I love her for that.

These are the women who raised me to become the woman that I am today. I am very blessed to be surrounded by such amazing women from birth up until now. They are my strength, and I aspire to be, at least, half the women they all are.

Of course, we aim to pass these wisdom and knowledge to the next generation. My niece, Ellen Katherine, is also so blessed to have all these amazing women by her side; leading her, guiding her, and teaching her. Because you know what? It is so important to raise strong women, especially in this modern age where feminism is being talked about very vocally as if it were a bad thing, and where femicide is not being talked about at all! Us, women, should be able to protect ourselves from this man’s world. I hope my niece gets all the strength she needs to fight this fight. With all my heart, I am truly hoping.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the amazing women out there! Who is your super woman? Let us continue celebrating all these amazing women, today, and every single day. It is so good to be a woman!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Matthew 5:6 NIV

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