MANILA, MAY 14, 2008
(STAR) By Wilson Lee Flores  (An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. — Spanish proverb

There was never a great man who had not a great mother — it is hardly an exaggeration. — Olive Schreiner

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. — Marion C. Garretty)

What are the best lessons we have learned in life and about life from our mothers? After losing a great dad at age seven, I was raised by a mother who was a teacher by profession and who imparted to her two kids lessons more through her actions than through words — her love for books and the written word; her child-like faith in God and in the power of prayer which I still need to fully imbibe; her innate optimism and positive attitude despite life’s vicissitudes; her discipline and her healthy lifestyle of simple foods and early sleep which are all still my shortcomings; and her total devotion to family.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno said: “My mother is Narcisa Serrano Puno. She gave her best to all the members of the family. She micromanaged our household alone — cooking, washing, ironing, helping us do our homework. We are eight in the family, yet she had quality time for all of us. My mother is a very religious woman who embraced and practiced Methodism, founded by John and Charles Wesley of England. Her most enduring lesson to all of us is to serve God and worship Him with reverence.”

SM Group and BDO universal bank boss Henry Sy told this writer: “My mother’s name is Tan O Sia. She was very kind, humble, and patient. The most important lesson I learned from her? My mother was a woman of few words, so I guess I learned through her example. She taught me the values of kindness, patience, hard work and frugality.”

When I asked Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Smart Communications big boss Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan about his mother’s most important lessons, he said: “My late mother’s maiden name was Soledad Perreira Velez, she was 81 years old when she passed away on February 5, 2001. She was warm, caring, effervescent, voluble. My most important lessons from her are about strength and determination, focus and passion. She grew up in a dysfunctional family. She learned to cope on her own early in life, worked when she was still in college. Her father was a stern and cold person — an accountant! And her mother led a colorful life, a star-crossed woman who had little luck with love and fortune — worthy of a movie (which I will do some day soon!).”

Senator Loren Legarda said: “My late mother Bessie Gella Bautista of Antique and Malabon loved life and was well loved in her lifetime. Her presence in my life, our lives, still lingers as many of her friends and people whose lives she has touched continue to revel in memories of her vivacity, her graciousness, her genuineness. Honesty was a very important virtue my mother ingrained in me. We may not have been born wealthy, but a good, clean, unblemished name and reputation was more valuable than gold. This is a value I teach my sons amid the vagaries and temptations of our very material world.”

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said: “My mother Maxima Morena Lacson is a virtuous and honest woman who sacrificed all her life to give her children the only inheritance she was capable of bequeathing to them — good education. The most important lesson I learned from her is her uncompromising integrity.”

Senator Edgardo Angara said: “My mother Juana Javier Angara’s calm and cool complemented my father’s intensity and warmth. Many people would say I am obviously my mother’s son, because of my being mostly quiet and reserved as a child. Both my parents were UP alumni and pioneering health professionals in my hometown Baler. My mother was the very first nurse to serve Baler. When Mrs. Aurora Quezon opened a small hospital in town after the war, my mother Juana had to be recruited as nurse because there was nobody else to recruit. She was a legendary prewar presence at every sickbed and childbed in Baler. In a way, I think this has influenced me in my choice of vocation. Nursing is of course very different from politics and law, but the idea of leadership and service is something I learned early on from my mother.”

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said: “My mother Emma Nepomuceno Pangilinan is 73 years old, and I am the fifth of her nine children. When we were growing up and for as long as I can remember every evening without fail, my mother would light a candle and pray in her prayer altar at home. By her acts, she taught us her nine children about the awesome power of prayer.”

Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said: “My mother Corazon Cojuangco Aquino is the consummate ideal mother who is a constant source of unconditional love. She always tried to give us the maximum amount of freedom to learn the ways of the world on our own, and would give us advice only when we seek it. There are two important lessons I learned from her. One, which is the most evident to anybody, is her tremendous faith. No matter how dark the situation may seem (and we have gone through quite a multitude of problems, or shall we say “a very interesting life” from pre-martial law years to the present), her faith in a God who loves all of us and who has a divine plan for all of us has never wavered. The second lesson is the importance she places on consensus building, which is in very dramatic contrast to the dictatorship that we experienced in the past. These lessons were learned not in any abstract manner, but in a consistent and experiential way.”

US Senator Barack Obama credits his late mother Ann Dunham Obama’s lessons for influencing his brand of politics, telling TV star Oprah Winfrey: “My mother taught me empathy — the basic concept of standing in somebody else’s shoes and looking through their eyes. If I did something messed up, she’d just say, ‘How would that make you feel if somebody did that to you?’ That ends up being, I think, at the center of my politics, and I think that should be the center of all our poli1tics. If we see a child who’s languishing in an inner-city school, how would we feel if that was our child?”

Senator Hillary Clinton has been deeply influenced by her 88-year-old mother Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham. Hillary learned lessons about work and sportsmanship from the men in the family, but Time magazine reported that “it was her mother who provided the most direct and intimate evidence of the importance of scholarship for girls at a time when few opportunities were available to them… Her father contributed to her thick skin and initially conservative ideology, while her mother leaned quietly Democratic and encouraged her to break gender barriers.”

Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Denzel Washington said it was the positive influence of his mother Lennis that kept him grounded as he grew in fame as an actor. He said: “I remember coming home one time and feeling full of myself and talking like, ‘Did you imagine all this? I mean, I’m a star.’ And she’s, like, ‘Negro, please. First of all, you don’t know how many people been praying for you and for how long.’ Then she told me to get the bucket and the squeegee and clean the windows.”

The world’s phenomenal seven–time consecutive Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong said of his mother Linda Walling Mooneyham: “She was everything to me. She was my coach. She was my friend. She was my motivator. She was my nutritionist. She was my driver. You know, everything. Cheerleader. She was everything to me when I was a kid. So naturally, when I got older and I would get in a tough situation, I would call her. And the one thing that she always stressed to me wasn’t, like, ‘You’ve got to win today, son.’ Or, ‘Go out there and win.’ (Instead it was) ‘Just give it your best and don’t quit. Don’t ever quit.’ And that carries through, even today. That’s my attitude either in a bike race or facing an illness or talking to somebody that’s just been diagnosed (with cancer or any illness): Just don’t quit. And I got all that from her.”

Beyond flowers, gifts, greeting cards or restaurant dinners, I believe one of the best ways for us to truly honor our mothers is to heed their lessons and to make the most of our lives so that someday we can be like the greatest US president, Abraham Lincoln, who once said: “Everything I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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