How Filipina moms are marking Mother’s Day 2021 

FOR over a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging the way everyone celebrates events and holidays. The situation is turning a corner with the vaccination campaigns kicked off by various countries, including the United States.

This Sunday, May 9, Mother’s Day 2021 will be a different celebration for many compared to last year’s sheltering at home as restrictions have begun to ease in parts of the U.S., allowing families to venture outside and resume their annual traditions.

AJPress illustration by Jillian Peñalosa

Trisha Hebron, who runs Mommy Organized in San Diego, California, is looking forward to attending mass and dining out with her family, as restrictions have begun to ease in the region.

While Mother’s Day is typically about spending time with family members and being the center of attention, Hebron said it’s okay for moms to find a moment to slow down.

“My quick tip for all moms is to allow yourself the permission to rest.  Carve out the time and replenish your energy,” Hebron said.

But as the pandemic continues, celebrating this special day will still come with restrictions for other moms.

For Zeny Martin, a Filipina hairstylist based in the United Arab Emirates, celebrating Mother’s Day away from her family would’ve been okay if it weren’t for the threat of COVID-19.

“My colleagues [and I] celebrate in the restaurants. Nagbibigayan din kami ng chocolates and flowers noong wala pang pandemic (We also used to give each other chocolates and flowers before the pandemic happened),” she said.

But now? “Malungkot. May halong stress at takot din kasi, kahit mahirap sana ang buhay at malayo sa family, kung walang ganitong pangyayari sa paligid natin, okay na sana. Pero paano ka magcecelebrate kung may health crisis (It’s sad. There’s also a mixture of stress and fear because, even though life is hard and I’m away from my family, if there wasn’t a pandemic happening, it would’ve been okay. But how can you celebrate when there’s a health crisis),” explained Martin.

“‘Saka na lang magcelebrate pag okay na lahat. Hindi rin naman makakapagcelebrate sa labas ngayon dahil bawal ang gatherings (We’ll celebrate next time when everything’s okay. We can’t celebrate outside anyway since gatherings are prohibited),” she added.

Working overseas means sacrificing time with your family in order to provide for them.

Missing milestones and celebrating family-oriented holidays without them are things you need to accept. Still, it’s never easy to shake off the loneliness.

“Celebrating Mother’s Day alone is really hard,” said Badah Corpuz, a Filipina stylist in Hong Kong. “For decades, living abroad knowing that you don’t know what will happen next is tough as a mother longing for her family.”

“Usually, I deal with it by hanging out with friends and workmates. I try to cherish the moment of the special occasion with them and be happy while away from my family,” she added.

Corpuz admitted that the pandemic has given her anxiety over the safety and well-being of her son in the Philippines. “In this challenging time that we have right now, I feel worried about my son. I want to comfort him and tell him not to be scared of this pandemic,” she said.

“My means to communicate with him through the phone is the only way to see him and hear his voice. I’m just praying to God that my family is giving him protection and guidance on what’s happening,” she added.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the pandemic may not be keeping Joyce Domingo apart from her son, but it’s still posing problems for her as a single mom.

The country remains under lockdown, which means plans to go out have to be pushed back. Schools are still closed, and everyone is advised to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus.

“Bonding lang sa bahay (Just bonding inside the house), like lunch with family,” Domingo said when asked how she will celebrate the occasion this year.

However, she has more pressing things to think about other than celebrating amid the pandemic.

“Yung pandemic talaga yung may malaking epekto especially sa mga bata. Kasi since last year, hindi na sila nakakaalis sa loob ng bahay, hindi na nila nagagawa yung mga nakasanayan nila gawin before like pamamasyal sa mall and sa mga theme parks (This really has a large effect especially on kids. Because since last year, they haven’t been able to go outside of the house, they can’t do what they used to do before like going to the mall and theme parks),” she pointed out.

“Because of this, bilang isang mommy, kailangan mo din magisip ng ibang ways para magkaroon ng ibang entertainment yung mga bata aside from panonood ng Youtube (As a mommy, you need to think of other ways for the kids to have other forms of entertainment aside from watching YouTube),” she added.

Domingo admitted that her responsibilities as a parent have increased because of the pandemic.

“Medyo depressive sa mga bata yung mga modules nila from school. And pati na din sa amin na working-from-home parents. They kept on asking din if kailan sila makakapunta ulit sa mga malls, or makakatravel abroad (The modules from school are kind of depressive for the kids. And also for us, working-from-home parents. They also kept on asking when would they be able to go to malls or travel abroad),” she said.
“As a parent, kailangan mo ipaintindi ng maigi yung situation natin ngayon. So in short, naging mas mahirap ngayon compared to before (As a parent, you have to really make them understand our situation today. So in short, it’s harder now compared to before),” added Domingo.

For Eunice Mallari, another single mom, the pandemic has given her more time with her son since she started working from home.

“Selfish siguro nito, pero nakatulong yung lockdown for me to spend more time with my son since I’m working from home since last year April pa. Mas natututukan ko yung anak ko (It’s maybe selfish but the lockdown has helped me to spend more time with my son since I’m working from home since last year April. I can focus more on him),” she said.

“Ang struggle ko ngayon since four years old na siya, nahihirapan ako magdecide kung saan siya ieenroll since nakaonline class lahat baka hindi siya makapagfocus pa (My struggle right now, since he’s already four years old, I’m having a hard time deciding where to enroll him since everyone is having online classes, he may not be able to focus yet),” she added.

Mallari also admitted the pandemic has given her the opportunity to celebrate Mother’s Day since she was not able to celebrate in the past years.

“Hindi ako nakakapagcelebrate every year talaga kasi kadalasan may pasok so sobrang dalang yung kakain sa labas para magcelebrate ng Mother’s Day (I’m not really able to celebrate every year because oftentimes I have work so it’s so rare to dine outside to celebrate Mother’s Day),” she explained.

But this time, she will be celebrating with her son and her parents. “Simpleng handa lang since hindi kami makakapamasyal (We’ll have a simple celebration since we can’t go outside),” Mallari said.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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