Tribute to the hand that rocked our cradle
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-05-10

The classic saying — “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” — was meant as the ultimate tribute to mothers. It acknowledges the important role mothers play in bringing up successful sons and daughters.

When we look at the people in power who brought our country to the sorry state that we are in, we must wonder just what kind of mothers brought up these cheaters, liars and plunderers.

Many of the biggest plunderers studied in the Jesuit-run Ateneo University, an educational institution that is known to produce “Men for others.” Considering that the Ateneo University has generally succeeded in producing genuine “Men for others” (that St. Ignatius of Loyola would be proud of for having faithfully followed the Ignatian Creed), we should rule out that their lust for plunder was developed in the school.

The Ateneo University has never offered any class on Plunder 101. Neither has the Ateneo University offered any courses on cheating and lying. In the Ateneo University, students pray the St. Ignatius Prayer regularly. That prayer goes like this:

“Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.”

It is hard to see how Blue Eagles, as Ateneans are called, after having prayed the St. Ignatius Prayer regularly, can metamorphose into Blue Vultures and plunder a poor country like the Philippines. The Blue Vultures go by a distorted mantra — to steal and not to count the loot, to plunder and not to say enough, and to not contribute anything positive but corner all the juiciest contract awards.

Education builds on good values that are inculcated at home. The school nurtures and improves the good seeds that are planted at home. However, education will find it difficult to offset bad attitudes that have already been developed at home which children wrongly perceive as normal behavior and thinking. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a big jueteng protector happens to have a grandfather who also dabbled in the predatory illegal numbers game that feasts on the hopes of poor people to earn a quick buck.

In the old days when both parents did not have to work, fathers usually provide the work ethic example while it is the mothers who plant the good seeds in the children and nurture these to full fruition. The great American general, Douglas MacArthur, was brought up in this fashion.

His father was a general and a Civil War decorated officer who was later assigned to help administer the Philippines after we became an American colony. It is easy to see that the young Douglas took inspiration from the military career of his father and followed in his footsteps - in fact exceeding his father’s achievements.

But it was his mother who shadowed the young Douglas every step of the way, guiding him towards his destiny. When Douglas enrolled in West Point, she took residence near the military school to be able to watch over him. Her influence on Douglas was such that the greatest fear of the general was to disappoint his mother. When he maintained a Filipina mistress, his aides said that MacArthur dreaded the thought that his mother might find out more than the bad publicity it could generate.

But as economic conditions pressed both parents to seek employment or engage in commerce, families opted for what is euphemistically termed as “quality time.” This so-called “quality time” is more of a parent’s rationale for spending less time to guide their children.

It comes as no surprise that two of the greatest politicians of our contemporary history — Ferdinand Marcos and Benigno Aquino Jr. — were very close to and proud of their mothers, Doña Josefa Marcos and Doña Aurora Aquino.

Perhaps molded by the influence of the Blessed Virgin Mother, Mary, we are a matriarchal society and many times one finds that the family matriarch is the key to approaching the powerful son. Roman Catholics are also similarly disposed to seeking the Blessed Mother’s intercession for their most urgent appeals to God.

The Protestants have questioned this practice vigorously. They consider it an insult to God to elevate the Blessed Mother almost to the level of God. They will often quote Christ who said: “No one goes to the Father except through me.” Catholics deny elevating the Blessed Mother to the level of God — quoting Christ on the cross (“Son, behold your mother. Mother, behold your son.”). Giving the Blessed Mother to mankind as another bridge to God was symbolically done through St. John the Apostle.

In the Gawad Kalinga (GK) experience, Tony Meloto would often narrate the all too common situation among the unreformed poor families where one finds an indolent predatory husband (father) who relies on the wife (mother) to provide for the needs of the family. It is not uncommon to find indolent predatory husbands (fathers) who drink away the hard earned money of their wives (mothers), unmindful if their children have nothing to eat at home. It is this type of fathers that GK strives to reform foremost as they play a key role in creating a more stable family life.

The feeling of hopelessness against the generational cycle of poverty drives fathers into despair and transforms them into indolent predators. No doubt, mothers also feel the hopelessness against the unending cycle of poverty. But the heart of a mother would not allow her to see her children starve. She continues to struggle and feed her brood, no matter how hopeless their situation seems.

There can be no pain greater than the pain of a mother who lost a child. Mothers give the most and endure the most suffering. It is only natural that we love our mothers the most.

At age 17, I lost my mother. Her last words were addressed to her favorite patron Saint, St. Jude Thaddeus, patron Saint of the hopeless. Gasping her last breath Mom said: “St. Jude, help me. I want to live for my children.” Fighting for her life, Mom can only think about us.

We should treat our mothers like every day is Mothers Day.

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