Category Archives: PARENTing

#MarieSson: Of Balance Sheets and Peace and Order

Newlyweds Jesson and Rosemarie
For your two hearts to beat for each other
Wrapped in magic the mind can’t decipher
Knots now tied no one must put asunder
Set your marriage goal to beyond forever
That is achievable with God at the center
With humility kneel and ask for it in prayer
Nothing is impossible to God we surrender

Wisdom and experience as witnesses
Tell us that in our human relationships
A lot of work in fact a marriage requires
Yours may only need light adjustments
1 April 2014 you became sweethearts
26 December 2017 you got engaged
Yet in high school you were classmates
Aside from growing up as kababayans

Take note of the your wedding homily
To each other “palihug” you must say
When you wrong “pasaylo” must be ready
Whatever circumstance trust is on the way
We your godparents are a text or call away
Rest assured you are in our prayers daily
For your success, joys and a soon baby
In all of your life’s journey, be happy
To God be the Glory

Convergence of Cousins: How Common Language Brings About Cohesion

“Common language facilitates cohesion among cousins coming from diverse cultural milieu who converge for the first time in a span of 10 to 20 years.” – #emefdy

When our first child (of three children) was born in early 2003, she became the eldest among future maternal cousins but, the youngest among first-world based paternal cousins. Yes, all of her five paternal cousins live in the developed western part of the world. Three of the five were actually born in the city that never sleeps. The other two, after having emigrated from the Philippines when they were between 2 to 9 years old, grew up in their new country where the temperature is a usual negative 20.

From 2002 to 2006, in three successful pregnancies, our three children were born healthy and complete, all via C-section under the adept hands of Loladoki. Kim in early 2003, Johm in late 2004, and Sam in late 2006.

In one of the milk company sponsored pregnant conferences I attended in 2002, a speaker shared about how her child knows how to speak English, Thai, and Tagalog. They have lived in Thailand for few years and the kid’s babysitter was a young Thai woman who speaks to her child in Thai language. What I learned that time are truly beneficial to my children:

  • That the child’s capacity to learn and speak multiple languages is endless as long as there is no confusion
  • That the child’s mind will be confused if the languages are mixed in one sentence
  • That whenever you speak to a child ,  what ever is the language, speak in straight one language.
  • That you do not underestimate a child’s capacity to understand what you are saying because of language difference. Just speak.
  • That you do not underestimate a child’s ability to understand you because the child is still a child, still an infant. Just speak to the child, the infant

Back then, I was considering the paternal cousins of my eldest child and thought that I would like them to understand each other when they be in the same space. So I thought that since all of the five paternal cousins speak English, I would make my child speak English too to be able to converse with them.

Using my English learned from formal education , I did speak to my children regardless of their age. I started talking to them while still in utero as fetus. I talked about breastmilk as the best food they can have. I talked to them about the world, about my family, about anything I thought relevant to their coming out to the world soon. It was like orientation to what they will be into when they joined humanity.

During infancy, I played to them the CD with classical music given by a milk company. As toddlers, I let them watch  videos featuring  Barney and friends, Strawberry Shortcake, movies featuring animals like Ariel, Spirit,  Ice Age, Lion King, and the like. My mama came to help me babysit for few months. My mama does not speak English. I told her to just speak in Visayan language, my first language, the vernacular here in Mindanao. I specifically told my mama to speak in straight Visayan and not to mix even a single ENglish word to her sentence, like the usual I hear around, “eat na,” or “drink na ug water o,” “ali na kay mag sleep na ka.”

So, I guess, the technique went well with my kids. They normally speak English like it’s their first language. Actually, they started to speak Visayan when they went to kindergarten and socialized with their Visayan-speaking classmates.

In February of this year, 2017, my husband’s sisters came home to celebrate the 80th birthday of their mother, my mother-in-law. Each sister brought with her one son, both in early twenties. It’s the first time for my children, now 14, 12 and 10 years old to see their  paternal cousins face to face. The day has come. And, as I’ve imagined it 14 years ago, my kids are able to enjoy their moments with their kuyas as they easily converse with them about anything.

I feel accomplished.


with the eldest among 5 paternal cousins


with the second among 5 paternal cousins





This paper is about Filipino senior citizens as carers to grandchildren, either as their bloodline or as their plain wards. Caring is a way of disposing one’s affection towards children by providing for their needs in a particular social institution – the school. It narrates and consolidates the series of observations made on selected senior citizens in a school setting, particularly the school canteen during lunch time.

The subjects are the senior citizens, referred to as individuals who are considered elderly, especially those who have retired (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015). In the Philippines, senior citizens are those who are 60 years old and over, whether retired from work or not (RA 9994). Mandatory retirement is at age 65 years old but retirement may be availed of starting at age 60 years old.

With most usual family responsibilities, alongside career tasks, already done in their younger years, it can be observed that there are many senior citizens who continue to provide care for family members – their still growing up grandchildren. As an extension to their familial duties, caregiving to grandchildren by grandparents has become a universal phenomenon.  Even in a first world country like the United States, the prevalence of caregiving cuts across gender, class, and ethnic lines so that women, recently bereaved parents, and African Americans — have approximately twice the odds of becoming caregiving grandparents (Fuller-Thomson et al 1996; Scommegna and Mossaad 2011).



This paper describes how senior citizens take care of grandchildren at the school canteen during lunchtime. The primary goals include:

  1. a) to study the senior citizens’ behavior towards the school children they are with as would have occurred in a school canteen during lunch;
  2. b) to describe the senior citizens’ human behavior that is representative of the way it exists in real life; and
  3. c) to observe the senior citizens’ care-giving activities towards grandchildren in a school-setting

 Field Work Methods

I have the privilege entry in the school premises including the school canteen being a parent to two schoolchildren myself; although, I cannot identify myself as one of the carers as I do not go to school for such purpose. My schoolchildren eat their home-prepared lunch at the canteen without any carer. For the purpose of this paper, I made myself a carer of my schoolchildren during lunch for ten schooldays.

To obtain more detailed picture of what transpired between the carers and the schoolchildren at lunchtime, I applied the participant observation method and blended as a complete participant. In the conduct of systematic observation, the natural behavior to observe was the caregiving by the senior citizen towards the schoolchild. Note-taking as my main recording tool, materials used during the observations were notebook and pen.

Like other caregivers, I sat down in one of the benches with food I bought from the school canteen on the table.  Like everyone else, I was there, ready for lunch, waiting for two school children. So, I am like the other caregivers present, I have children with me during lunch time. The only difference was, unlike those two weeks, I did not go to the school canteen on a daily basis before.

The cultural scene at a school canteen where children eat their lunch and the children’s carers would go during lunchtime to provide for the children’s needs. The school canteen was selected as the appropriate observation setting that met two primary considerations, theoretical and practical. Theoretical consideration was that the school canteen is like the schoolchildren’s second dining room where home-like behavior as caregiving towards them could occur during lunch time. Practical consideration was the school canteen is a place where presence does not require permission by the observed, a place where caregiving behavior can be observed even unobtrusively.

Other considerations taken included: the decision to engage in continuous real time observation and the use of focal individual sampling wherein only one person’s behavior is observed per episode. Every onset of behavior (frequency) or elapsed time behavior (duration) is recorded during observational session. The type of systematic observation is structured method. Aspects of caregiving are deemed relevant and activities involved in it were recorded.

The data are presented in narrative form with few themes culled from the text and placed inside matrices for emphasis. The write-up follows the matrix contents: episode date and time, nonverbal actions, linguistics, extra-linguistics and spatial. There is differentiation between relative and non-relative senior citizens in their caregiving activities. Individual actors are presented by episode of observation through detailed descriptions of the events taking place, attached as appendix.

 The Setting

This study is conducted at a school canteen of St. Michael’s College – Basic Education Department in Barangay San Miguel, Iligan City. The school offers kindergarten up to fourth year high school. The school canteen is located on the first floor of the school gymnasium, facing an airy, vast open field school ground, with trees on the sides. It has approximately 253 square meters floor area. There are eight rows of tables with 17 tables in each row. Each table measures about 2 feet wide and 4 feet long, which can accommodate approximately six to eight diners. Each table has bench of the same length on each side, facing each other.  There are numerous ceiling fans lined above in parallel the rows of tables.

The series of observations were done in five episodes of five different senior citizen caregivers spotted in the canteen in a span of ten days. Observation commenced at 11 in the morning and ended by 12.30 noon. The kindergartens first enter the canteen at 11.15AM followed by the graders at 11.30AM then the high school students at 11.45AM. The school bell rings by 12.15noon signifying return to the classrooms by all learners as the noontime prayer is overheard through loud speakers in the school premises.

The Cultural Description

There are a total of five senior citizens observed in this study. All of them looked to be just passed their 60s and not yet in 70s, based on their physical appearance and agility. Only one is male, the rest are females.

These senior citizens provided care for at least one school child up to at most three school children (Table 1). Of the five senior citizen caregivers observed in this study, three are relative of the learners while the two are not.

Table 1. Senior Citizens’ Relationship with the Schoolchildren

No. of children Relative Non-Relative
Male Female Male Female
One 0 2 0 1
Two 1 0 0 0
Three 0 0 0 1


Relative Caregivers

Of the three relative caregivers, the two grandmothers provided care for only one schoolchild (Table 1). The lone grandfather took care of two school-children, a boy and a girl.

Notably, while the grandmothers brought with them home-cooked meals during lunch time, the grandfather just brought water and ate with his grandchildren take-out meal brought by his daughter.  Hence, the latter only shared caregiving with the schoolchildren’s mother.


Table 2. Relative Senior Citizens’ Caregiving Activities



(words uttered)


(loudness of voice)


(space management)

# Date Time





2 Wed,

6 January 2016


11.00 AM – 12.30 PM .examined clothes, took off upper white uniform polo, wiped off the boy’s back with a hand towel


. placed a hand towel at the back


. took out food container, opened it, took out spoon and fork, and handed them to the boy


. spooned food into the boy’s mouth


. opened a water container and let the boy drink water


ali ngari, tiwasa ni imo pagkaon” (come here and finish your food)


mao na siya, bisan sa balay, mag-lakaw-lakaw bisan nagkaon. Mao hungitan na lang gyud para segurado mahurot ang pagkaon niya… Oo, apo nako na siya, anak sa akong nars nga anak.” (He is really like that even at home, he keeps on walking while eating. That’s why I just feed him to be sure his food are all eaten.. yes, he is my grandson from my daughter who is a nurse)

. soft but firm voice





. seated beside each other


. intimate


. spooned food to child’s mouth






11.00 AM – 12.30 PM . served  water

. wiped back

. put hand towel on back

. spent time  in the swing with grandson




Very low voice it cannot be heard 2 meters away

. closer to each other


.sat beside each other






11.00 AM – 12.30 PM . brought, served food and water


wiped back

. put hand towel on back


. Asked how the child was  



. soft and sweet voice

. closer to each other


. hugged the child


.sat beside each other


Non-Relative Caregivers

The two non-relative caregivers are all females. The first, NR1, took care for only one female schoolchild while the second, NR2, has a handful three schoolchildren to attend to – a girl and two boys. Both brought with them home-cooked meals during lunch time.


Table 3. Non-Relative Senior Citizens’ Caregiving Activities



(words uttered)


(loudness of voice)


(space management)

# Date Time


Non-Relative 1


1 Tues,

5 January 2016

11.10 AM – 12.12 PM

(1hr & 2mins)

. opened food container, placed in front of the  child

. handed spoon and fork

. poured down water and placed it beside the girl’s food

. checked on the girl’s back and adjusted the girl’s ponytailed hair






Very low voice it cannot be heard 2 meters away


.Seated on the same table, beside each other and in front of one another, but there is no physical intimacy like hugging or kissing


.wiping of back


.fixing of hair






11.00 AM – 12.30 PM . brought, served food and water


wiped back

. put hand towel on back





Very low voice it cannot be heard 2 meters away

.closer to each other


.sat in front of each other

Differences in Caregiving Activities among Relative and Non-Relative Senior Citizens toward Schoolchildren in the School Canteen

This section describes the senior citizens’ observed caregiving activities in relation to time, nonverbal actions, linguistics, extra-linguistics, and spatial.


All of the caregivers entered the school canteen 15 to 30 minutes before the school children emerged out of their classrooms. Every day, it can be observed that they positioned themselves in the same spot inside the school canteen. It can be deduced that the specific area is their agreed common space for dining. Such regularity assures and provides secure feelings to the children. When they arrive, they are sure that their carers await them in the same area. That they have food set for them to fill their hungry stomach. The schoolchildren upon entering the canteen directly head towards them.  Their stay ranged from 50 to 75 minutes. They usually leave the school canteen after the bell rang at 12.15 noon.

Nonverbal Actions

There are common caregiving activities that the caregivers have done towards the school children at the school canteen.  These included bringing of food and water inside the school canteen, getting the food and drinking water ready on the table, checking of the child’s back, wiping and putting hand towel on the child’s back, and fixing of a girl child’s hair. These appeared to be the basic needs of the schoolchildren, which the senior citizen caregivers readily provided for them, notwithstanding their relationship.

What differs was the extra-care that bonds relationship.  It is that something observable between blood-related grandparents-grandchildren.  There is that fondness of the grandparents toward the child that is seemed amiss in the non-relative. The non-relative seemed mechanical in their dealing with the children.  But, the grandparents openly kissed or hugged their grandchildren as the latter approached their table.

The male caregiver did not bring food, only drinking water. It was the mother of the children who brought take-outs from McDonald’s. But this grandfather took and spent time to casually sit down with his grandson in a swing in the school playground. Not one female caregiver did this bonding activity.


At least two caregivers’ message can be heard of out of the five caregivers. The rest of the caregivers, while they talked to the children, were inaudible at two meters distance from them.  There is also the element of uncontrolled noise inside the school canteen with approximately 140 tables. The way the caregivers talked with the children differs among relative and non-relative. The former appeared more intimate and friendly when they talked while the latter seemed to limit their conversation and did not show endearment.


The caregiver relative, a grandmother with one schoolchild, whose language was heard of, spoke in a soft but firm voice that the child obeyed.  Her behavior is similar to what she usually does even in their house. The rest of the caregivers spoke in low tone so they were difficult to decipher or lip read.


The caregivers stay proximate with the school children they attended to during lunch.  While eating, either they are seated in front or beside the school children. The distance between them sheds off when the caregivers touch the school children’s back to check on possible wetness.

Though there is similar distance among them, it is notable among the relative caregivers to naturally close the distance between them and the children through their hugs and kisses.  These are missing among the non-relative caregivers who seemed formal and distant from the children even when they are physically close to them.



Caregiving activities towards school children are commonly done by relative or non-relative senior citizens. They brought home-cooked food, water, and set the food in front of the children. Anticipating needs during the lunching process, the carers handed utensils and drinking water whenever there is a need, despite non-request from the children. These senior citizens show proficiency and mastery in caring for the growing schoolchildren. All of them periodically checked and wiped the backs of the children. These caregiving activities are expected to be carried out towards the children and everyone did so naturally.

Slight differences lie on the language spoken, though not audible from two meters distance, the relative caregivers spoke to the children in a sweet way showing more intimate relationship between blood-related than those who are not. There was a notable formality in how the non-relative caregiver dealt with the children.  There seemed to be the presence of an invisible barrier between them.

It was notable that despite the grandfather’s presence, there was a mother for the two children during lunch time. This led to the minimal activities the grandfather could do compared to the grandmothers. The grandfather’s presence suggested a supporting role for him in caregiving since the mother is there. Although, the grandfather took time to have a short bonding in the swing with the grandson that not one of the grandmothers had done even to their granddaughters.

The grandparents showed natural intimacy towards the children, like meeting them as they arrived inside the school canteen, talking to them in a buddy manner.  The children showed more listened to their own grandparents than their nannies.




This section presents in detail the five observational sessions at the school canteen in a span of ten days. Every session, the focus is on one caregiver to have an undivided attention towards the subject during the whole period.

Observational Session 1

Actor: non-relative, female

Episode 1: Tuesday, 5 January 2016; 11.00 AM – 12.30 PM

At 11.10 in the morning, this actor, who looks like in her mid-60s, entered the school canteen carrying a large brown tote bag. She was dressed in a loose gray shirt on top of a loose below the knee brown skirt, and a pair of slippers. Her hair, black with streaks of white, is like that of a man’s usual cut, up to her nape. She has a light brown skin complexion; her facial expression is that of a no-nonsense person, not friendly or smiling, just a civil one. She headed towards the farthest left table in the school canteen. It’s the left most table in a row of 17 tables near the canteen counters and food displays.

This short-haired grandmother sat on the table, facing the canteen entrance, her back on the counters.  On the table, in front of her, were 3 yellow Tupperware glasses, one 2-liter Coleman water container, three food containers. She sat there waiting for the learners to arrive.  The setting in front of her appears so ready for lunch eating.

At 11.17 in the morning, a girl of about 6 years old, in ponytail approached the actor’s table and directly sat down on the bench facing the actor. The actor opened one food container and placed it in front of the girl. The actor then handed the girl spoon and fork. The girl began eating her lunch. The actor seated in front of the girl saying nothing, alternately looked at the girl and around her where other schoolchildren also ate. The actor poured down water from the Coleman into a yellow plastic glass and placed it beside the girl’s food.

As the clock ticked 11.50 near noon, learners emerged out of their respective classrooms; most were headed towards the school canteen. While the girl continued to eat, a boy of about 11 years old approached the table and sat down beside the actor. The actor opened a food container, placed it in front of the boy and handed him spoon and fork. The actor poured down water from the Coleman into another yellow glass and placed it beside the boy’s food. The two children ate in silence and the actor simply sat there, observing them. The girl finished her food, drank water and stood up.  The actor stood up too and checked on the girl’s back and adjusted the girl’s ponytailed hair. Then off the girl she went out of the school canteen and headed back towards her classroom. The actor placed the used spoon and fork inside the used food container and placed inside a large brown tote bag.

At 11.55AM, an adolescent boy of about 15 years old approached the table and sat down where the girl earlier sat. The actor opened another food container and placed it in front of the teener. This time the school canteen was filled with noise from simultaneous chatting of diners and clicking of utensils.  One cannot anymore hear someone’s voice if not seated on the same table. The younger boy was done eating, pushed his food container towards the middle of the table and stood up.  The actor stood too and checked on his back and he hurriedly left the school canteen, walked towards a three-floor building where his classroom is on the second floor. The older boy continued eating while the actor poured down cold water from the Coleman to another yellow glass and placed it beside the teener’s food.

The teener ate for only 6 minutes and when he was done, he pushed his empty food container towards the center of the table. He drank water, continued to sit there and faced the other diners, probably his classmates, seated on the next table. The actor placed all the used spoon and fork inside the used food containers. Then she put the covered food containers, Coleman, plastic glasses inside the large brown tote bag. At 12.12 noon, she stood up, picked up the bag, said something to the teener in an expressionless face, and left.

Observational Session 2

Actor: relative, female

Episode 2: Wednesday, 6 January 2016; 11.00 AM – 12.30 PM

This actor, with looks of someone in her late-60s, entered the school canteen at 11.20AM with a black shoulder bag on her right shoulder and a white eco-bag on her left hand. She wore a red floral polo, brown slacks and a pair of an inch elevated sandals. She has a fair skin with visible light brown pigmentations on her arms. Her hair is colored light brown and shortly-cropped. Her face has that smiling and friendly countenance.  She proceeded to the farthest table to the left side of the canteen. She put her bags on the table and sat down. She opened her black shoulder bag and took out beauty product catalogs and handed them over to other women caregivers nearby her. She chatted with the possible customers for minutes.

At 11.50AM, when learners emerged out of their classrooms and headed towards the school canteen, a boy of about 9 years old approached the table where the actor is. The boy looked robust. The actor stood up to meet the boy. She examined his clothes, took off the boy’s upper white uniform polo, retained the white undershirt, and wiped off the boy’s back with a hand towel. She placed a hand towel at the back of the boy’s undershirt and led him to sit on the bench. She took out the food container, opened it, took out spoon and fork, and handed them to the boy. The boy started eating, but after just three spoons, the boy got up and roamed around talking to other school children nearby.

The actor called the boy, “ali ngari, tiwasa ni imo pagkaon” (come here and finish your food), and the boy went back to the table. He stood in front of the table and opened his mouth as the food was spooned into it. Then the boy roamed again. The actor answered another caregiver beside her, “mao na siya, bisan sa balay, mag-lakaw-lakaw bisan nagkaon. Mao hungitan na lang gyud para segurado mahurot ang pagkaon niya… Oo, apo nako na siya, anak sa akong nars nga anak.” (He is really like that even at home, he keeps on walking while eating. That’s why I just feed him to be sure his food are all eaten.. yes, he is my grandson from my daughter who is a nurse).

The rest of the lunch was eaten in that manner, the grandmother spooned food into the boy’s mouth then he would roam around. The grandmother opened a water container and let the boy drink water from it. She took out another food container and ate her lunch. When she was done eating, she called the boy, took out the hand towel from his back and let him wear his white polo uniform. She also put talcum on the boy’s back, briefly hugged him and bade him goodbye as the boy went out of the school canteen. The grandmother packed all the used food containers and utensils, put them back inside the eco-bag. She said she would go to her direct-selling business establishments and would come back later to fetch the boy.


Observational Session 3

Actor: relative, male

Episode 3: Monday, 11 January 2016; 11.00 AM – 12.30 PM

This tall 6-footer, handsome grandfather, who looked like in his mid-60s, arrived inside the school canteen at about 11.30 in the morning. He wore a cap on his head, a white t-shirt, gray knee-length cargo pants, and thick black slide sandals. He carried a small eco-bag with visible water containers inside. He proceeded to sit in the middle section of the left side of the school canteen. At 11.40AM, a woman entered the school canteen, approached his table and handed him a brown paper bag. He placed it in the side of the table and sat there with the woman sitting opposite him.

At 11.50AM, when learners entered in the school canteen, a boy of about 9 years old approached them. The boy is undeniably overweight. The boy took the woman’s hand and placed it on to his forehead. He did the same with his grandfather. The woman was the grandfather’s daughter, the boy’s mother. The woman took out the cartoon boxes of food containers from the paper bags – McDonald’s take-outs. The grandfather took out the water bottles, a 750ML green bottle and a 1-liter violet bottle. Then the three of them ate their lunch together. They looked like they were eating inside their own dining table.

After 5 minutes, a girl of about 11 years old approached their table. She also did take the elders’ hand just like her younger brother. The grandfather took out the last McDonald’s pack from the paper bag and handed it to his granddaughter who sat beside her mother. The grandfather attended more his grandson while the mother attended the girl. He checked on him now and then while they ate. He adjusted the hand towel on the boy’s back. He shredded the chicken on the boy’s lunch box.  He opened the water bottle for the boy, poured out water on the bottle’s cover, and handed it to the boy.

After they have eaten, the grandfather and the boy went out of the school canteen and headed towards the swing. There they sat and spent the next 10 minutes together swinging. Then the bell rang, signifying the learners’ return into their classrooms. The grandfather brought back his grandson inside the school canteen. He removed the hand towel from the boy’s back and let him wear hi white polo uniform. Along with his sister, the children proceeded back to their respective classrooms. The grandfather stayed for 10 minutes more after his daughter left.


Observational Session 4

Actor: relative, female

Episode 4: Tuesday, 12 January 2016; 11.00 AM – 12.30 PM

At 11.20 in the morning, this actor entered the school canteen and proceeded to the mid-section of the left side of the canteen. She settled on a vacant table. She appeared to be in her later 60s.  Her shoulder-length hair is well dyed in black color, waves of curls were clearly well tended, and the front sections were neatly clipped to the upper sides of her head.  She wore a black blouse with half-inch diameter of white polka dots, black slacks and a pair of 1-inch black sandals. She carried a black shoulder bag on her right shoulder and an insulated lunch box on her left hand. She put the lunch box on the table and proceeded to the school canteen’s food counter. After 5 minutes, she brought two bowls of food, a bottle of iced tea and two bottles of water on a tray back to the table. She placed the tray on the table and sat on the bench. She seemed busy arranging her things inside her shoulder bag. She checked on her cellular phone and attended to it in the next minutes.

At 11.52 in the morning, a boy of about 8 years old came to the table.  The actor stood up and in smiles hugged the boy and asked the child how he is, to which the child answered that he is okay. She checked on his back and placed a hand towel there. Then the boy was seated beside her. She opened the lunch box, took out the two-piece food containers, opened them and placed both in front of the boy. From the bag she took out two pairs of spoon and fork for the both of them. She asked the child to say the grace for the food and boy recited a short prayer for the food. Then they started to eat their lunch. She opened the iced tea bottle and gave it to her grandson. She opened the two water bottles for each of them. As the child drank the iced tea, she checked again on the boy’s back, adjusted the hand towel and wiped the child’s head. The two conversed in a friendly manner, like they are good buddies.


Observational Session 5

Actor: non-relative, female

Episode 5: Thursday, 14 January 2016; 11.00 AM – 12.30 PM

This actor, who looked like in her early 60s, arrived at the school canteen at around 11.10 in the morning. She wore a loose yellow-black stripe blouse over a loose gray knee-length skirt and a pair of slippers. Her straight black hair with streaks of white passed below her nape. She carried a black medium-sized eco-bag and proceeded towards the middle section of the canteen. She put the bag on the table and sat down on the bench, waited for her ward to arrive. She seemed amused as she watched the various activities around her.

At 11.55 in the morning, a girl who looked like 10 years old approached the table where the actor is. The girl sat down on a bench in front of the actor and the latter immediately checked on the girl’s back and wiped the insides with a hand towel. She tied the girl’s hair into a ponytail then took out a food container from the eco-bag, opened it and placed it in front of the girl. The actor handed the girl spoon and fork and child started eating. The actor watched as the girl ate her lunch.

While child ate, took out a water bottle, poured water into a cup and placed beside the food. The actor attentively watched over the girl as the latter continued to eat her lunch. After the girl finished her food, the actor checked on the girl’s back again and fixed the girl’s hair. The girl remained seated while talking to another girl on the next table. The actor then took out from the bag another food container and ate her lunch. When was done eating, she packed everything back inside the eco-bag. She sat there watching the child until the bell rang and the child went back to her classroom.

The actor went out of the school canteen and proceeded to the waiting area inside the school campus, at the right side of the main gate.  In this area, there are about twenty caregivers seated, waiting for their wards until end of classes in the afternoon, between 3.30 and 4.30 PM.



Burton, Erlinda M. 2016. Lecture Notes on Qualitative Research Methods. Cagayan de Oro City: Xavier University.

Fuller-Thomson, E., Minkler, M., and Driver, D. 1997. A Profile of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in the United States. The Gerontologist, 37 (3):406-411.

Merriam-Webster. 2015. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.  USA: New York.

RA 9994. Expanded Senior Citizen’s Acts of 2010. Republic of the Philippines Congress Records.

Scommegna, Paola and Mossaad, Nadwa. 2011. The Health and Well-Being of Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren. Population Reference Bureau Report.

WHO. 2016. Definition of an older or elderly person. World Health Organization. Retrieved on 15 October 2016 from WHO webpage:

Saving the Self: Fears of The Predator and the Prey

Today, I am a prey that turned into a predator, to save myself.

Seated in front of my netbook, I was set to do my exercises in data management and  processing in social research. But something moving under my bed caught my left peripheral view. I literally and intentionally froze myself to allow its graceful passage, without a bit of a disturbance. It glided in a grand fashion looking as if it owned the place. It held its head high and with eyes alertly gleaming, scanning the surrounding as it guided its full length towards the wide open door. It did not, however, passed through the door. It appeared to not like the open space. It headed towards the door hinges leading to  dark corner of the room, where I piled up my used clothes for laundry.

As if regaining my sane self from a temporary trance, I took my cellular phone and dialled the number of my knight in shining armor. A slight fear had managed to creep inside my gut as I spoke, “hon, there’s a snake that just crawled inside the room!” At that moment, I just wanted somebody else to know what I am into. So, I felt a great relief when at the other end of the telecommunication line, my knight said,  “I am going there now.” Oh. How could I not expect that. Because he is always preoccupied with multi-tasking at the workplace, I did not think he would, that’s it.

I started to carefully take out things that cover the view of that corner. There was the black laptop and its wirings. A black bag and the kids’ notebooks from last night’s assignment making. The kids like to make their assignments in my room, it’s always like that. Where their mom is, the children follow. They have their room with study tables and bright lights installed, but they wanted to crowd into my space. Well, watching a snake crawl on the floor where my precious kids usually sit sent chills my spine! ewww…

So, I browsed through the internet to have wise steps on how to deal with snakes in the house. Yes, I believe it came from the grassy lawn outside. And, because of the heat, it looked for a cool place to hide. Surely, a house is not a desirable habitat for snakes. Well, I fear its poison, just in case. It fears bigger predators like humans. That is why I did not move a muscle then while it passed before me. But, in this life, whoever has the bigger fear has the bigger stake. Between us, I have the bigger stake, so it seemed. I am sorry I d o not know the snake-story. The internet said not to try to hit it, just open the door and guide it out. Call animal control. Oh, these are rather easier said than done! Guide it out! So, that was our goal then. But, as we saw it and its fighting stance, we decided to just immobile it. I said, “sorry snake, but we can not take our chances here.” Really sorry.

I realized that fear for our life make us act accordingly to save it. And having a knight is really something so comforting, not just to the heart, but also to the mind.



Mom, Her Girls & Pokemon

Pokemon maker
Controls the world
Sam astound, what?
Hmmn, at least
The players’ universe
Well, the “haves”
They make Pokemon
They sell, they earn

Then most “have-nots”
Buy and lose money
Play and lose time
“It’s a distraction!”
Kim rejoined
“Truly they make
Yet they don’t use”
It’s all for unproductivity

Weee, yet you planned
To install the apps
“That’s before, not now”
Good thing you kids
Asked Permission
Even in Apps installation
And you obeyed
Your mom’s decision

Love Notes from a Grader Lagud

Lagud is a Visayan term referring to the youngest child. Sam, short for Symonne Mari, is my third and youngest child. She always surprises me through her hand-made, cutesy love notes that she inserts or posts in strategic places that are part of my routine.


Cover page of the latest love card

This is the latest love note she made, which she posted outside of the Big Box drawer where I put undies. She knows that I am going to open this drawer usually twice in a day.

And when she writes the note, she often includes the names of her siblings. I knew it’s her solo effort, but she includes them in the credit.

What she always writes particularly revolve around her gratitude towards me, towards us for whatever that we have done for her.  She alternately addresses her notes to me as lone receiver and to us both her parents.  She also expresses her love for us in her notes.


She usually sketches simple drawings of us as a family. Always five characters in the drawings. In the card above, she places herself in between her older siblings. She puts us her parents in the sides, thereby enclosing the children. This depicts safety that parents provide to their children, and Sam shows in her drawing that she feels secure being bounded by both parents on both sides.

Her gratefulness includes as far back her baby days. She thanks us for taking care of her as a little baby. In this note, she draws five faces in the front part. Again, exemplifying the whole family. Complete.


She inserted this note (third photo) inside my coin purse, first weekend of August. I wondered why there’s a paper inside. I put only coins in this deep, black purse given to me by a friend, Aileen Noval. It’s one of the goods for sale at her then Japanese surplus store. As my fingers dipped inside for jeepney fare, I felt this paper. Amidst the passengers-filled jeepney, I couldn’t help but smile when I read the note.

There are other numerous notes I have collected from Sam’s posts and insertions. I keep them like priceless treasures. There was one I found inside the back pocket of my jeans.  I found it when I arrived at Xavier University for the Social Structure class.

Some notes have been made by her when she’s younger. She is now 8 years old. A grade 3 learner in a school where her father works. My classmates at XU asked me how come my child is like this sweet. I don’t have a categorical answer, but I have a mother’s intuition. I never tire from murmuring through her ears while she breastfed then how I love her, how I thank God for giving her to me, and how she makes me happy. I repeat those endearing words up to this day.  I guess she may be filled with these words of gratitude and love that it is just natural for her to express them back.

But what about my older kids, do they do these love notes thingy (as my kids usually use referring to something). Yes, they also made love notes, though not as surprising and numerous as Sam’s.

Gretel Bon: Eager to Flap Her Wings

by Mary Ann

When our youngest child, Sam, turned three years old, we decided to engage a working student.  We believed that a working student could be better than a plain, full-time helper.  The idea was to have a better house companion who has a future to look forward to, aside from being receptive of instructions. Family Outing [10Jan2010] (10) - gigi ellen

From our hometown came two female teens who finished high school and were interested to be working students.  By then, our children were ages 3, 5, and 7 years old.  For a year, while getting accustomed with the new environment and tending to the kids, they reviewed for the collegiate entrance exams.  After taking the tests, Mei decided to go back home to be working in a city instead.  The other girl, Gigi, decided to stay and pursue college education.  She recommended a niece of her neighbor, Ellen, to replace Mei.  And so came Ellen from the province of Surigao.

Then came the enrollment period.  When Gigi was about to enroll at MSU-IIT, she backed out and decided to go back home to work as a salesgirl at a local town store.  Only Ellen was left who enrolled at St. Lawrence Institute of Technology (SLIT) under the 2-year HRM program.  One semester passed and Ellen’s grades were good.  But, her mother called and told us that the family will send Ellen to school this time, in a 4-year course.  We learned, lately, that Gigi already has a love child.  We do not have updates of Mei and Ellen.

Thanks to St. Michael’s Feast, at the Plando’s residence, we came across a teen girl from Bukidnon province who wanted to pursue college educatioImagen, even as a working student.  We agreed that she enroll at SLIT since classes can be arranged on weekends and she can tend to the kids during weekdays.  She chose the 2-year Management program.  She followed our suggestion that a part of her monthly allowances be saved at a cooperative bank. With her savings, she was able to buy Christmas gifts for her nephews and other family members every time she went home for a New Year vacation.

Her grades were good.  She graduated with honors.  She wanted to pursue a 5-year course, BS Accountancy.  While preparing for the entrance tests, she worked at BJs SteImageam and Grill. Her responsibilities with the kids were reduced to sending them off to school in the morning.  Then she goes to work.

Just this morning, she informed me that she preferred to work as a secretary at a shop along Tibanga hiway.  She will also stay at a boarding house.  Bon has decided to start “flying” her life with “her wings.” Isn’t this what we envisioned for our working students to be?  Yes, it is.  We feel good that we were able to assist her in a way to enable her “wings.”

Anyhow our kids are now 7, 9, and 11 years old. Last summer, we started training them how to wash their clothes using the Samsung Wobble 3D Technology washing machine.  Then they hang the washed clothes, fold them when already dry and put inside their individual clothes cabinets and drawers.  They also learned how to wash the dishes.  The 11-yo knows how to cook rice in a rice cooker.  Even the 9yo knows how to make pancakes, with supervision.  Well, the kids are now ready.  But are we?  One of our friends have to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to be able to prepare everything for her 3 school children and herself.  Well, we are about to join her in that set-up.  So, welcome us to the 4 o’clock waking up parents’ club!

Undeniably the Happiest Pinoy at Anytime!

by Mary Ann

He is the father of Brina Kei Maxino.


So, who on earth is  Brina Kei Maxino? The second child among three daughter-children of the father above, Brina was born with Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome BUT managed to emerge victorious despite the disability.

As just shown on Magpakailanman, a show on GMA hosted by Mel Tiangco,  despite her health condition Brina was able to enroll in school with the rest of the children her age.  And she graduated as high school Valedictorian!

I was really mesmerized as I watched the show and I couldn’t stop myself from googling about Brina and her father.  True enough I was able to see and read great stories about them and their achievements.

Undeniably, it is the family’s positive attitude, optimistic nature and joyful relationship that fueled Brina’s optimum development.

Parents can learn a lot from Brina’s story.  How crucial is our role as parents in allowing our children’s potentials reach the apex.  Unconditional love to our children is paramount. It is non-negotiable.  And aside from its natural existence within our hearts, it takes efforts for us to maintain it and manifest it in our words and actions on a daily basis.  This is true to children without any disability, truer to those with disability.

It doesn’t go unnoticed in the show how the family braved life’s challenges with strong faith.  Members of the family did not just depend on each others’ goodness and strength but more on the power above and beyond them.

The Maxino story should encourage every parent in the grueling tasks of parenting children in whatever situation they are into.