Amid poverty, these Ilonggo moms raised successful children

Parenting is its own thing. I heard this spoken in a movie. It's because you have your own needs but you have to sacrifice some of them when you have an added role to play - being a parent.

I believe that the bigger sacrifice is being done by mothers because apart from raising the kids, they also have to go through nine months of pregnancy and hormonal changes that can wreak havoc to one's mental state.

Child birthing, albeit a common procedure, is actually a big risk that women take.

In Iloilo City, we have a project called Bulawanon nga Nanay, a search for deserving mothers who were able to raise successful children who can contribute to the growth of the community despite their circumstances. Bulawanon means 'gold' while Nanay means "mother'.

It was started in 2009 by the Iloilo City Government Task Force on Street Children chaired by Rosalie Trenas. 

"A mother's love for her child is nothing else in the world. She loves fiercely," said Marivic Mabilog, Iloilo City's first lady during the 2017 search for Bulawanon nga Nanay held in SM City Iloilo recently.

Carlo’s Marketing Director Paolo Trenas with Bulawanon nga Nanay winners Susan Paloma, Nemia Casabuena, and Benliro Andrea Andraje

She also shared her observation that in a matriarchal family, most of the children are successful. "The father is there to support but it is the mother that bonds closely with the kids," she said.

"To the finalists, you are already the best. You serve as key players in nation building and key partners in the developments in Iloilo City," she assured the 14 contestants of Bulawanon nga Nanay.

The LGU, NGOs, Commission on Human Rights and the private sector join hands to hold this activity every month of May. One of these partners is Carlos Bakeshop which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this 2017 and would like to honor mothers as part of their celebration.

Marketing Director Paolo Trenas said that mothers have been part of their bakeshop in the past 30 years. "They are important in our lives. Ang nanay ay ang ilaw ng tahanan. Every house shines brighter because of mothers," he said.

"We see mothers line up to buy pasalubong for their kids. They do this to give happiness to their children. These are little acts of love that create memories," he added.

Bulawanon nga Nanay contestants

The Bulawanon nga Nanay 2017 winner and Carlo's Top Mom is Benliro Andrea Andraje, a housewife from Urban Poor, Villa Tabuc Suba, Jaro with seven children. 

“I have seen how my children grew. My husband is the only one in our family who works. I made an effort to ensure that my children get accepted in educational scholarships so that they can go to school. I raised pigs, made and sold frozen foods, accepted laundry jobs, and cleaned other people’s houses,” Andraje narrated.

With a meager income, she was able to feed seven children. “I experienced feeding my seven children with just one pack of noodles. What I did was to mix it with vegetables,” she said.

“I also taught them to pray and be good persons,” she added.

Bulawanon nga Nanay contestants

Andraje received P10,000 cash from the Iloilo City Government and a free trip to Boracay with pocket money from Carlo's.

The first runner up is Nemia Casabuena from Zone VI Calumpang Molo who also has seven children. Her husband sews clothes and Nemia helps him by ironing them.

The second runner up is Susan Paloma from Zone II, Bgy San Juan Molo with five children. She is a single parent because her husband died in 2004. She raised her children by working as a housekeeper and caregiver. 

“I sacrificed my needs for them. Also, I taught them to respect their elders and love God,” she added.

Casabuena received P7,500 while Paloma received P5,000 cash. Each also received a free trip to Boracay./Kathy Villalon

Iloilo City’s First Lady -- Mrs. Marivic Mabilog

Interested to read more features? Check out these blogs with feature stories:
Feature Iloilo
Valerie Caulin
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The Appletizer

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