March 28, 2020 at 01:15 am
"There was nothing she would not do for our family."
This being the last weekend of March, a month dedicated to women all over the world, I would like to pay tribute to my mother Margarita Pacis Jurado, who was committed to achieve our Ilocano family’s dream of having professionals among us. I called her Nanang.
My sister Cristeta completed medical studies from the University of Santo Tomas. My brother Desiderio earned a law degree from the University of the Philippines. He eventually became a justice of the Court of Appeals, a well-known civilist. A hero of Bessang Pass and a nominee to the Supreme Court, he died at the age of 69.
Another brother, Guillermo (Willie) was a lawyer and World War II veteran. And then there’s me, graduating from the Philippine Law School after my studies at Ateneo de Manila.
My mother was a devout Catholic. Even in her later years, she heard mass at Quiapo Church every day.
What amazed me was that she did not have a college education. And yet, she imparted to us the values of honesty and hard work. While we, her children, were all studying in Manila, my father who was a schools supervisor in Abra was also busy with work all over the province. My mother took care of all of us kids in an accesoria in Sampaloc.
When the war broke out in December 1942 and when the Japanese invaders came marching into Manila, it was my mother who sustained us.
My sister practiced medicine at a puericulture center in Tondo and later on got married to a lawyer in Abra—Alfredo, who was a member of the Bersamin clan.
We did not have household help and my mother taught me how to shop at the wet market for our needs. She also taught me how to cook and to iron our clothes.
My wife did not believe all the things I had to do during the war.
To be able to get snacks at the old Mathay grocery and eatery at the corner of Espana and P. Campa, I worked as a bootblack. On the side, I sold cigarets. The buyers of my wares—Chesterfield, Lucky Strike and Piedmont—were the Americans who were at the UST campus surrounded by a sawali fence. Sometimes I sneaked to avoid the Japanese. I peeped through the sawali fance to continue selling.
My forbidden cigaret trade only ended when a Japanese sentry saw me and shouted: “Kura! Kura!” But would you believe I saved $250 after the war?
My brother Desi was arrested together with the late Senator Manny Manahan because they were both in the underground movement. They were imprisoned at Fort Santiago. He stayed there for nine months until the Japanese government granted amnesty to all the prisoners.
When Bataan fell to the Japanese after three months of resistance by Filipino and American soldiers, and after the infamous Death March from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac (my other brother Willie included),my mother took it upon herself to go to Capas riding the Philippine National Railway which at that time ran from Tutuban to La Union.
Life in Manila soon became difficult and expensive. We used Mickey Mouse money to buy a ganta of rice. We ate kangkong from the esteros.
At this point, my mother and I decided to join my two older brothers in Abra. This meant joining the guerilla movement. My brothers had gone North to join the USAFIP-NL to fight the Japanese.
It was here where I became most amazed at my mother. She was already a senior citizen at this time. But Nanang was able to keep up with the pace of the guerilleros. My gulay, there was a tim when the Japanese were shelling us with mortar fire! And we slept on the ground during this time.
This was when I saw the best and worst in Filipinos. The guerilleros tortured and butchered alleged collaborators.
By the end of 1944 when General Douglas MacArthur did return to the Philippines, my two brothers decided to join the Battle of Bessang Pass. My mother endured the day-and-night trek from Abra to La Union. The distance was 87 kilometers. It took us seven or eight days.
My mother was indeed an amazing woman!