My Mom, The Dreamer
I am a proud Atenean. Thanks to my mom who made this become a reality through her great sacrifices.
Prior to 1988, I never had an idea of what and where Ateneo de Manila University was. All I knew at that time was UP and PUP; UP because I heard that it’s a good school and PUP because one of my aunts worked there.
By no means, I was not born to a wealthy family. My dad was an employee while my mom used to be a housewife. I succinctly recall the times when we did not have our own TV or refrigerator. We used to place our food in my grandmother’s refrigerator, as a favor. Meanwhile, I used to watch TV beside lols (my term of endearment to my late grandma) or at my Ninong Sam’s house or even at Tito Glenn’s when they were at home. I still remember the time when we did not have enough money for more than a quarter kilo of minced meat and rice for dinner. My mom and I would walk to and from Q-Mart and purchase food items. We did not even ride the tricycle to save money.
During times when we had more money than usual (usually at Christmas time when my dad would have bonuses and incentives), my mom and I would go to SM Cubao to cool off or purchase some necessary items. My wife would always ask me why I have this preference to go to that place up to this day. Perhaps, my attachment to Cubao – more than because it is a place where I grew up – is that it has given me reprieve during the times when we had to endure.
It was tough before. Or maybe, it was just a challenge to be taken care off.
But one thing was for sure: my mom had a dream.
She clearly wanted to work at the Ateneo to provide for me (I was the only child at that time and it turned out that two of us graduated from the school) with a good education. At that time, I did not even know how to define what a good education was. Again, I only knew UP and PUP.
Then my mom got her chance in 1988 as a staff of the former Father Holscher and then Atty. Sanosa and the former Brother Dunn at the Ateneo High School Admission and Aid Office. The AHS became her training ground that would eventually propel her for more years in the Ateneo.
She eventually transferred to the Ateneo Grade School in 1989 where I continued my elementary education starting at Grade 2 and Taal was my section. I could still remember each detail in my head: Wake up at 6:00am, prepare, walk to the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Gen. Roxas (where Mercury Drug was located – and it is still there, by the way), ride a jeep going to Katipunan, pass by the grotto of Sta. Clara and look at the offering of flowers and eggs, walk along Katipunan, pass by the flower vendors, walk on the tarred soil where the vendors cook Japanese corn, pass through Gate 1, and to the Registrar’s Office to get my things. 7:15am. Traffic was not as bad as it is now.
I still remember, of course, the venerable, Mrs. Nilda Cortez, my first-ever Ateneo teacher and giver of my first Best in Filipino award. And as the years passed by, there have been so many encounters, so many faces that I have met one way or another (in no particular order): Ninang Bitchik, Mrs. Mallillin, two Miss Bermios, the former Mrs. Pacquing, the former Mr. Badiola, Mr. Antonio, Tess Michael, Tita Lucy, Tita Lilly, Mr. SIngson, Two Mr. Pablos, Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez, the former Atty. And Mrs. Maribojoc, Mr. Navarro, the former Tita Vero, Tita Olan, Tita Jessie, Mr. de la Trinidad, Ms. Palma (now Mrs. Alejo), Ms. Tapia, Mrs. Duenas, Ms. Mallillin (now Mrs. Borja), Mr. Borja, Sir Heaven, Sandy, Tito Nap, Mr. Crisol, Mr. Onse, Mr. Labayen, Mrs. Syquia, Mang Pinong, the former Mang Joe, the former Mang Abring, Larry, Mr. Tamidles, Mr. Bautista, Mr. Ortanez, Ka Roger, Dario, Buboy, Ms. Maisa, Sir Jong, Mrs. Pike, Ms. Peralta, Mrs. Reyes, Fr. Dacanay, Fr. Arcilla, Fr. Caluag, Fr. Benny, Fr. Nick, the former Fr. Unson, Fr. Cuerquis, the former Fr. Katigbak, Fr. Pabayo, Fr. Mangulabnan, Fr. Bernas, Fr. Nebres, Dr. Tejido, Dr. Locker, Dr. Sol, Dr. Ted and Dra. Martin, Dra. Ramos, Matt, Nurse Candy, Nurse Jane, Nurse Linda Lim, Dra. Agbayani, Big Boy, Tita Letty, and so on. There are so many names and faces. There are too many to mention.
Meeting all these people became possible because of my mom. So for me, my mom was the key for my discovery and encounters – of all good and bad experiences that made me stronger as a person. If not for her, the possibilities would have shrunk and my sails could have shifted to another direction.
I did not make a name for myself in the Ateneo. My mom did it for me. And I would like to believe that she did a great job. And that is why my mom is the edifying person for me.
Whenever I or my family would walk around with my mom, there was always a perennial “Hi, Mrs. Palma” or “Ma’am Malou, kumusta ka na?” and she would chat for a while with whoever that person may be. She knew so many people and has touched so many lives in the Ateneo. But one life she did touch will eternally be grateful: me. No words can express how much I am thankful for her love, support, and dedication.
My mom is now retired and is now a full-time grandmother to my child. I just hope that until my daughter grows up, my mom would also be an edifying person for her. And I hope her example can help me touch the lives of others as well. I may not be able to be at par because my mom is unique, but I do hope I could emulate even a small bit of what she did.
Adam A. Palma is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University. He is an educator and a student. He is a businessman and a worker. He is a father and a son. He is a brother and a friend. By all means, he is not perfect. But he is dedicated to do and fight for what is right and to continuously be a person-for-others.