Invoking mother-A A +A
Saturday, February 23, 2013
OUR cook is leaving in less than month. She’s a good cook. It’s a big loss. She didn’t exactly resign. She just said “Pauli-on ko sa akong mama.” Yes, that’s right. She’s been recalled to the province.
In our culture, invoking mama’s name is like invoking God’s name. When the maid says, “Pauli-on ko ni mama.” We have to give way. Nothing can take precedence in our culture than mama’s wishes. That’s just the way it is.
Our cook says she’s not resigning. In fact, she wants to continue to work for us. But she just doesn’t know when she can be back. The grapevine tells us that she is being recalled home to do farm work.
So now I know why with all her talents, she was unemployed when we hired her. How can you get a permanent job if your mother can simply recall you anytime she likes?
This situation is quite common among Filipino families. Filipino parents wield such a powerful influence over their children’s lives that often, children simply do as parents say.
While I think close family ties is not a bad thing, it can become bad if it hinders an individual’s capacity to make decisions independently. Because filial piety is so strongly ingrained in our culture, no matter how old they are, children are usually subservient to the parents’ wishes, no matter how inconsiderate or impractical.
Again, there is nothing wrong with filial piety. However, there is something very wrong when one’s responsibilities to one’s job have to take the backseat over parental whims. Obviously, children have to return home for family emergencies but often, children are recalled home to do simple household and farm chores which can actually be relegated to others.
It seems to me that in our culture, children are treated somewhat like farm animals. You know, they are simply production inputs. Their goals and dreams in life are irrelevant and cannot possibly take precedence over parental plans.
We do not bring lives into this world so our lives can be better. Your children are not your slaves. They are not your work horses either. They should not have to pay you back for the food, clothing and shelter you provided them. They didn’t choose to be born. You chose to give birth to them. The point of having children is to give life and to give meaning to these lives.
Unfortunately, this concept of parenthood is lost on many of us. While the “giving birth to work horses” mentality is more common in poorer families, the rich and middle class are not necessarily any different.
How are we any different when we ask our children to resign from their jobs to take over family businesses even when they are not inclined? It’s not terribly wrong but it’s simply more magnanimous for parents to allow their adult children to make their own decisions in life without any parental pressure.
As “mother” is a very powerful figure in our culture, her name is often used and abused by many to simply get out of boring, low-paying or unfulfilling jobs. The employee only has to say, “Pauli-on man ko ni mama.” Every Filipino employer knows when to simply agree and argue no further.
(Email: email@example.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2013.