My Filipina Mama

By Leila Amerling


Mother’s Day. To my mom, and I’m sure to all moms, Mother’s Day should not be celebrated just ONE day a year. With an Asian mom, especially a Filipino mom, you’re bound to be reminded, or even guilted into thinking that you should show appreciation to your mother everyday! You readers out there who have an Asian mom know exactly what I’m talking about.

First there’s guilt...

An Asian mom will tell you that “nobody” (aka YOU) cares about her, just because you don’t call her every hour on the hour while you’re at work. She will “joke” about how YOU should be giving HER presents on YOUR birthday, because you should be celebrating the fact that she let you into the world. She will guilt you into saying that she makes the best adobo, which is actually true. No one makes adobo as well as your mom. But somehow if you want to eat out, she’ll make you feel guilty by saying that you don’t like her food. In fact, saying how delicious her food is only once in a day, means you really don’t like it very much and are just trying to be nice.

And if that isn’t enough, when having a disagreement with your Filipina mother, she will end the argument by claiming that “you are just like your father,” which somehow makes you feel terrible, as if being like your dad is a bad thing.

Then there are her awkward displays of affection...

She’s the mom who has a special way of kissing you by sniffing your cheek or your head.

She’s the mom who buys you clothes that are totally not your style but you’re guilted into wearing them anyway. But then your friends only compliment your outfits when you wear the stuff she buys you.

She’s the mom who while sitting in her room, or the TV room, will shout out your name repeatedly until you get to her, only to ask you, in the sweetest of ways, to pass her the remote control (that’s sitting right on top of the TV), by pointing at it with her lips, not her finger, and then rewarding you with another sniff kiss.

If you don’t answer your phone or get home right at curfew time, she will worry about you, but not in the way that other non-Filipina moms do, like maybe thinking you got into a car accident. She will worry that you’ve been kidnapped by a bunch of hooligans and sold as a sex slave to one of the drug cartels of Manila.

And finally there’s the brutal honest truth (many times told at inconvenient places) that you just don’t want to hear but really need to...

She will tell you if you’re getting fat, or if you’re too thin (although this will RARELY ever happen). She’ll tell you if your breath smells, or that you need to go see your dermatologist because you’re getting pimples again. She’ll tell you that your clothes aren’t “nice” or “sexy” enough when you’re going out on a date. But when you’re finally in a serious relationship, she’ll say that you’re too young to be in that kind of a relationship. And then when you’re getting older and are still single, she’ll try to set you up with the one son of Tita-so-and-so because he’s the only guy in her circle of friends that’s around the same age as you. She’ll start reminding you of your age and that you’ll need to get married soon because you’re getting too old and may not be able to have children. She’s the one woman on this planet (well besides your lola - grandma) that you can’t argue with and just need to accept the “fact” that she’s “always right.”

No matter what, we can’t imagine having another type of mother...

No matter how she shows it, she loves you unconditionally. Even if half of the things you do are done “over my dead body.” Without her, you literally would never have existed. You are at least half of her and hope that you’ve inherited all of the good Asian genes that she bestows (like looking like you’re 40 when you’re 60, or having a head full of luxurious black hair and golden, olive-toned skin that never burns when under the sun). You hope that someday, when you become a mom too, you will raise your child(ren) as well as your mom raised you. After all, you didn’t turn out so bad, right?

Nanay, Inay, Ina, Mama, Nanang, Irmat, Ma, I love you too!