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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Women in my line: Education shaped the course of our lives

On the left is my Aunt Imelda who inspired this story 
while the woman on the right is my mother. 
Both turned 75 and 65 this year. 
Photo taken in Taoist Temple in Cebu City last year.

I was so sure that my father's zest for education led me to my profession. Become a lawyer so that your signature turns expensive, he would say. But it turned out that I was only partly correct. I learned later on that my story also started from my maternal side through my aunt.

My lola married my lolo, who was ten years her senior, at the age of fifteen. They begot her in 1941. Being the eldest to a stern uneducated farmer and a chinese-garter-playing teenager was a challenge. As parents, they were unorganized, dominant, and unreasonable. It was because they were uneducated. My Lolo finished just his Spanish alphabet equivalent to grade one while my Lola, her grade three.
"Education in my family is a family history. It is worth retelling to a generation which neglects what is readily served to them by their parents."
As early as the age of five, she was being brought along by Lolo in the farm to do farmworks. She started to sow monggo seeds and often got spanked for not doing it correctly. Physical punishments came easy from them. As a child, she felt deprived not only of love but also of material comforts. She understood how hard it was without money. I have no new dresses. While walking from home to school one day during her grade school, she daydreamed of finishing college. This daydreaming continued on despite tiredness from long walks and empty stomach. She had foreseen herself becoming a teacher in the future, and even wished to become a lawyer. At a tender age, she saw the link between education and poverty. How would I eat when I grow up if I got no profession?

Other children were born after her. They were ten all in all. Meanwhile, she graduated from elementary at the age of fifteen but was refused to be sent for high school. The tuition was a hefty P80 then, and there were other children to feed. Above all else, my Lolo subscribed to his neighbor Pancho's reasoning. Why send girls to school when they will end up marrying anyway? My lola had to support her husband's decision. My aunt has to do something.

When she heard that there was a three-month vocational course offered on tailoring and hair perming, she grabbed the opportunity. She asked Lola whether she will send her to high school. Why go to school when you can earn money from what you know now? With sheer determination at sixteen, she went to Manila and worked in a beauty parlor. She excelled in what she did. She was even offered to go to Davao to lead the seminars on hair perming but she did not take that opportunity because she has another thing in her mind. I will go back to Antique to finish my high school.

For three years, she sent money to Lola and Lolo and saved a little. When she went home at nineteen, she expressed her desire to go to high school but once again, she was refused by her parents who should have been her ardent supporters. But she found parenting from her teacher-friends. She was encouraged by teachers, who liked to have their permed hair done by her, to enrol in high school. When she doubted if she can defray the expenses, her patronesses assured her that they will help. You will repay us by having our hairs permed. She enrolled in high school without my Lola's and Lolo's knowledge.

She persevered in her studies and money came easily with her skills in tailoring and hair perming. Lola and Lolo eventually accepted the fact of her enrolment without their blessing. She finished high school at age twenty-four. To make her success sweeter, she finished as salutaturian in her class. My lolo and lola turned out proud of their daughter.

The next challenge is college. While it might have appeared to others as too late for college, she enrolled and took summer classes so that she finished the same a semester ahead. She graduated in Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She passed the board examination and started teaching and earning. Lola and Lolo were regarded highly in the community for having a professional daughter. Her success spelled a big difference to the lot of her other siblings.

My mother, who was born ten years later than my aunt, was sent to elementary and high school without hesitation. She stopped for one year after being caught by my Lolo entertaining a boyfriend but failing to prepare the supper. However, she was given a second chance the next school year. When it was her turn to go to college, this time, my Lola asked my aunt whether to send her or not. She should be sent to college; I'll help you out. My mother became a social worker.

I wanted to say that the rest is history. But I just can't.

What if my aunt did not fight for her right to education? What if my aunt failed in her attempt to finish what she started? What if my aunt got married in the middle of her quest? Will my mother go to school too? Will my mother be able to meet my father who was her co-worker? Will I ever be born? Will I be sent to school too?

Education in my family is a family history. It is worth retelling to a generation which neglects what is readily served to them by their parents.