“Special days this week in May and the mother of them all” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (May 6-12, 2015; page A5)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of May 6-12, 2015

Special days this week in May and the mother of them all

First of all, did you know that May 12 is Limerick Day? That’s because it celebrates the birthday of writer Edward Lear (1812-1888), an Irish native who popularized limerick poems when his “Book of Nonsense” was published in 1846. What is a limerick? It’s a humorous poem consisting of five lines with lines 1,2, and 5 rhyming, while lines 3 and 4 rhyme on a different scheme. Here’s an example written by Noam Kuzar from the website http://www.holidayinsights.com/.

There once was an old man from Esser
Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small
He knew nothing at all
And now he’s a college professor. (Noam Kuzar)

So I was inspired to make a couple of limericks of my own. Here they are:

There was once a man from Kentucky
Who felt he would win the horse derby
On mount he fell flat
What’s surprising with that
If we all just assumed he’s unlucky? (Bles C.)

There’s a lady from St. Catherine
Who sings the “Begin the Beguine”
And she starts from the end
Like it’s never quite planned
Yet the people still join her in singin’. (Bles C.)

I invite my readers to try their hand at crafting these funny verses and please send me a copy of your limericks at my email below. I will credit you properly as the author of your contributions. Thanks!

Now a little dialing back is in order, since May 5, as we know, is Cinco de Mayo and National Teachers Day as well. Cinco de Mayo has come to mean a time to celebrate the richness of Mexican and Hispanic culture, and the corresponding feeling of national pride. It was on May 5, 1862 that the Mexicans defeated the French army, and yet this single victory, just one of their many battles against colonial powers, is not synonymous with Mexican Independence Day which they actually celebrate on Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo is a time for our Mexican brethren to sing, dance, party, make merry, and express their pride for being of Latino origin.

The Tuesday of the first full week of May is National Teachers Day. This year, it falls on May 5. We wouldn’t be where we are right now if it weren’t for those patient, persevering, creative, and inspirational people whom we call our teachers, mentors, gurus, or perhaps life coaches. Formal teaching may only be from pre-K to college but we never stop learning and we owe our continuing intellectual curiosity to our teachers in any way, shape, or form. Let us say a sincere “thank you” to these wise and dedicated individuals in our lives. Ma’am, Sir, happy National Teachers Day po sa inyo!

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week. This is our tribute to these health care workers who face frontline responsibilities in caring for children, the elderly, and people with poor health. Nurses are part of the heart of medicine with their skillful competence, empathic compassion, and clear communication. So to all the nurses working in different parts of the world, maraming salamat po sa inyo!

May 8 is always the date when Iris Day is celebrated, especially in Japan where this special day originated. For the Japanese, the iris flower and plant have a spiritual significance in that they ward off evil spirits. On Iris Day in Japan, people place iris leaves in their bath water in the belief that this practice can prevent illnesses. The people mix iris juice with their traditional sake drink as this is believed to ensure longevity. Master gardener Aida, my Mom, has a whole island of irises now in full bloom as late spring additions to her front fairy garden. When I read this bit of research to her, she was definitely tickled pink to be in tune with our Nippongo brethren through Iris Day. To my Mom, the irises in our front yard do not have to ward off evil spirits or illnesses. As far as she is concerned, her irises are just there to be — to walk in beauty, like the night, as it were, like Lord Byron wrote.

Now of course, the mother of all the holidays during this particular week still remains our worldwide Mothers Day celebration on May 10. Need you ask why? Look no further than the nurturing figure in your life who raised you and trained you until you became the mostly law-abiding and reasonable individual that you are now. I don’t care if the nurturing figure in your life was male or female – just that by dint of her/his love, sacrifices, and hard work for you, you can rightly call that person your Mother. In the interests of broadening our definition of “mother” further, let me call your attention to surrogate, alternative, and avant-garde mothers. Let me call your attention to mother-like women although they never married and never had children of their own.

These are the single women who work as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and then send remittances to the Philippines faithfully every month to finance the education of several nieces, nephews, and other relatives. These are the spinster-women who had retired from their careers and yet continue to sponsor the education of college students recommended to them by the dean. That had been the case for my grand-aunts Tomasa/Chata (RIP) and Candelaria/Andie. They were former faculty members of the Dr. Yanga School of Midwifery in Bocaue, Bulacan until their early eighties in age, and they have sent more than a handful of midwifery students to school. One grateful student even wrote to the show “Wish Ko Lang” because she wanted to pay a tribute to my grand-aunt, Candelaria Manarang, BSN, RN. I witnessed the taping, saw the finished episode on TV and oh! What a touching tribute it turned out to be.

Let me close with another limerick of mine in hopes that you’ll be inspired to write your own and share it with our readers by emailing me:

There’s a choosy belle living in Italy
Who declared she was ready to marry.
Suitors formed a long line
Day by day, rain or shine
She eloped with a brand-new Ferrari. (Bles C.)

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Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“The Mother of All Mothers: Honoring Mortals and Goddesses” – in this week’s issue of the Manila Mail (May 7-13, 2014)

Leaning in with my Mom, Mrs. Aida Ragasa Carmona
Leaning in with my Mom, Mrs. Aida Ragasa Carmona
All smiles! My parents, still together at 45 years and counting.
All smiles! My parents, still together at 45 years and counting.

Pilipinasblitz Forever Bles Carmona For the week of May 7-13, 2014

THE MOTHER OF ALL MOTHERS: HONORING MORTALS AND GODDESSES

First of all, we greet the most important woman in our lives on the second Sunday of May: Happy Mother’s Day!

A bit of nerdicity: in the olden days of its origin, there was a bit of a flap regarding the spelling of the holiday. Anna Jarvis insisted that it should be Mother’s Day (singular possessive), and her reasoning was that it was supposed to honor one mother of one family. In fact, President Woodrow Wilson adopted this spelling when he made the official declaration about Mother’s Day with Congressional backing in 1914. However, the other variations, Mothers’ Day (plural possessive) and Mothers Day (plural non-possessive) are also in use these days.

With that brief nod to this holiday’s origins, I would like to weave a narrative about motherhood, engaging our collective imagination and our strong feelings, whether of love or something else, toward our own mother and the mother-figures in our lives.

Let me start with my own mother: Mrs. Aida Ragasa Carmona. When I and my two younger sisters and one brother were still children living in the Philippines, my Mom worked three jobs to get us by, apart from our Dad’s average income. She taught English and speech and drama at the Manila Science High School in the mornings, taught college English at the Far Eastern University, and then she would rush to Broadcast City for their overnight “Flordeluna” tapings, where she played the role of “Aling Atang.”  Looking back on it now, my Mom attributes her almost “super-human” energy to the fact that she was young and it was all an adventure for her. Although she admits that her salary from her Flordeluna role was the one that got us through grade school and high school, she was also frequently called for location shoots for various bit roles in films, where she usually played maid or teacher roles. She has worked with the crème de la crème of Philippine cinema in the 1980s: Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, and Mike De Leon among directors, and many popular stars of that era, among which she singles out Ms. Tita Duran as approachable (not “pa-importante”) and down-to-earth. Ms. Duran and my Mom became fast friends during those times. Among the younger set, she fondly remembers Ms. Lorna Tolentino who, when my Mom said out loud that she was craving for Skyflakes, Ms. LT asked her “alalay” to go outside the exclusive village where they were taping (therefore no “sari-sari” stores inside) and buy the crackers for my Mom, a whole box of Skyflakes! From my most impressionable years and up until now, my Mom is truly my source of strength and er, showbiz “chismis.” (Just kidding, Mom. You know I love you.) Happy Mother’s Day po sa inyo!

Here’s a shout-out to all the mothers out there: the real ones like you, who have to juggle home and career, who stay home and care for your children while your partner goes to work, who takes care of your pets as a mother to them, and every other variation of “Mother” onto which you put on your resplendent diadem. This tribute is for all kinds of mothers out there.

This is for Santa Monica of Hippo, who spent 30 years praying for her dissolute son. We know him now as Saint Augustine, a very influential Doctor of the Catholic Church. Saint Monica is the patron saint of three places: Manaoag, Pangasinan and Don Galo, Parañaque in the Philippines and Santa Monica, California. She is the one to turn to for help with difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives.

This is for the late Philippine President Corazon Aquino, whom I’ve had the honor to meet face-to-face at Malacañang Palace in 1987 because I won first place in a national poetry competition about the first anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. She personally handed me and my fellow category winners our individual Cory Dolls. Pres. Cory Aquino became the Mother of the Nation during those uncertain times and her ascension to the Presidency marked the precarious transition from martial law to democracy.

This is for the Greek goddesses Gaea, mother of the Titans, and Demeter, patroness of agriculture and fertility. Gaea had the most terrible husband, Ouranos, who swallowed all his children and yet she endured to seek revenge later on. Demeter, in her grief when Hades lured her beloved daughter Persephone down into his Underworld, forgot being selfless for a while and brought on widespread draught and famine to mythical Greece. Such was Demeter’s love for her daughter. (If you Google the rest of the story, bonus points for you.)

This is for a couple of my Manila Science High School classmates, NMC and MGO, respectively, who as mothers of special children face unique challenges and yet rise to the occasion every single day out of their love for their respective children. Their serene countenances, grace under pressure, and true thankfulness to their God make me admire the families they have built with their husbands and children. In relation to this, I also salute the mother of my adult Literacy Plus learner. Her name is Sue. She expertly handles my learner’s wheelchair. My learner is a Korean-American man in his early 30s who was born with cerebral palsy. She patiently loads up my learner onto their specially constructed van and drives him over from their house three cities away to the Hayward Public Library every Friday. That’s where her son and I have our tutoring session for a couple of hours. She patiently waits for our session to finish by doing errands or browsing through books and audiotapes, deciding which ones to borrow. She is in tune with my learner’s moods, knowing when he is energetic and when he’s had enough.  In short, Sue is one of the most palpable examples to me of motherly devotion to her son. My learner may have been born with certain deficiencies but with a mother like Sue, he is clearly blessed in abundance. Sue’s dedication to her son’s wellbeing is admirable and worthy of emulation.

Clearly, there can be no higher love than a mother’s love. My Catholic parents would probably want me to mention the mother of all mothers in their religion: Saint Mary or Mother Mary. For those among you who are familiar with Christianity and/or Catholicism, the example of Mama Mary in caring for her son, Jesus Christ, is all over your Bible and traditions. From Jesus’ immaculate conception until his death and resurrection, his mother, Mary, remained loving and faithful. When I was younger and I was required to memorize the entire Rosary, I especially liked the looong Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary because her many titles are so evocative, for example: Mother of Our Savior, Tower of Ivory, Virgin Undefiled, Mirror of Justice, Queen of Angels, Mystical Rose, and so on. I don’t pray the Rosary anymore, but I have never stopped praying in my own fashion.

Lastly, this tribute is for three of my friends: one Latina and a couple of Filipinas, who have long been wanting to be mothers but so far have not yet been blessed by a child. If anyone deserves to be mothers because of the love and strength they carry in their hearts, it is these three by sheer virtue of their goodness and grace. I’ve been praying for each of them but they don’t know it. Well, JCL, LPP, and PIL, here I am going on record: May God and Goddess grant you the child you know you should birth into this world. When our prayers have been answered at last, may you love your respective children as only a true-blue mother could. Happy Mothers Day! It is plural, non-possessive, and can be shared by all!

********** Contact Bles Carmona for personal readings at pilipinasblitz@gmail.com, via Facebook at http://facebook.com/pilipinasblitzforever.org, or follow her on Twitter@BlesildaCarmona.