Today, September 22, we celebrate the 64th natal day of our matriarch, Josephine Regala Catap. To honor her, I dedicate this column to her as she is the stronghold of our family.

Josephine, nicknamed as Joyce to her colleagues or Te to her older siblings, is the youngest daughter of Salvador and Consolacion Regala. My grandmother, Apung Conching was a meat vendor in the old public market this is why my mom have hundreds of memories related to selling pig meat and making tocino and longganiza at an early age.

My mother was in college when my grandmother died, leaving her older siblings to provide for her education. Though they were not a well-off family, it is good to know that all of them were able to finish their studies. Their eldest sibling Tita Linda was an Education graduate and became a teacher while Tita Senen

One of the inspiring stories shared by my mother was that even if she barely had the time to review for her classes as she needed to help in the family business in the palengke, she graduated with Latin honors. Unfortunately, during her review days for the licensure exam for accountants after her graduation, she did not pass the licensure exam to become a certified public accountant.

She joined the government service as a state auditor sans the CPA eligibility because, during those times, it was not a requirement for government accountants. Her stable job as a government employee supported our father's good compensation as an employee of a private company. Hence, I can say that we, as their children were able to enjoy a well-provided life. In fact, even up to this time, we still run to them for help in some instances.

As to her personal qualities, my mom is someone you cannot live without. It's funny how I get annoyed at her "kakulitan" most times especially when she complains about someone or something, she can't help but go over and over again just to vent out her thoughts and feelings. And not only that she needs you to listen to what she has to say, but you need to agree with her. However, when she is not at home or when she is in vacation and the house is quiet, we miss her presence. That's how forceful her existence is for us.

She labeled herself as the "Universal Genius" and that she is the most beautiful among us women in the family. When I introduce her to my workmates and friends, she would always ask them, "Ninu ing mas malagu kekami?" and since most of the time they are taken aback by this question and could not answer, she would reply and say "Aku diba?"

She always brags about her being more powerful than my Dad, that when they have a misunderstanding, she gives him the silent treatment and would wait for my father to do what we call a "small talk" which means that my father strikes an almost non-sensical topic just to talk with her again.

On a more serious note, my mom has always been the stronghold of our family. Ours may not be a perfect family, but her values and ways on how to discipline us has made all the difference. As I look back on all the challenges that she experienced in life, I can only feel but be inspired to follow her footsteps on how to keep a happy and healthy family.

On her birthday today, I cannot offer her expensive treats or gifts but what I wish for her is for God to grant her long life for her to be able to inspire us even more and hold us all together. Happy 64th birthday, Berat! We love you 3000!