Mama celebrated her 70th birthday last Monday, February 5, but she chose to have her birthday party the day before so that most if not all of her children and grandchildren would be there to join her for the occasion.
The plan was originally to host a more elaborate gathering worthy of such a memorable event but she firmly insisted before hand that she wanted a more intimate, close-knit, and simple affair. She got what she wanted and, in many ways, it seemed to me later on that it was not only practical but also oddly appropriate.
She had lived most of her adult life in Lianga since she settled here with my father to start a family and a business in the early 1960's. Perhaps then she dreamed of a quiet, simple life in this quiet and little town.
But she would be thrust, by circumstance and a highly developed sense of civic duty, to play a more prominent and public role in the affairs of her new community. She would eventually be recognized for her active participation in civic, religious and community affairs and be held in high esteem by all.
But her focus on her family has never wavered. She together with my father raised five children, practiced her profession as a pharmacist, owned and operated a drugstore, remains either a leader or an active member of various civic and religious organizations and sits on the board of the local bank and the local water utilities body. And she has done all these things well but she remains essentially what she was when she first came to this town, a simple, deeply religious, yet educated woman with an active interest in the affairs of the world and her community but deeply rooted in the the Filipino traditions of love, respect and reverence for the family.
That was why I realized why her desire to celebrate her 70 years of a fruitful and productive life with her family as the focus can be seen as really appropriate if seen from this perspective. Her life, in that sense, has come full circle.
Our lives are often judged by what we accomplish as individuals outside of the home. But some of the greatest of personal achievements are often overlooked because they seem so ordinary and obvious. Those that have managed to keep and preserve their families and keep them bound together in mutual love and respect in spite of the challenges and distractions of the world are persons of consequence not only to their own but to mankind as well.
They hold the fabric of society together and make all of man's creations and the greatest achievements and accomplishments of his civilization possible. They are the mothers and fathers who bring forth and nurture what is the most noble and divine in all of us.
70 years of a well lived life is nothing if viewed from the perspective of eternity. But in human terms and from the viewpoint of the heart, it is more than enough. After all, who needs an eternity when one can achieve the almost impossible in a lifetime.