By Lanieta Tamatawale
In 2003 I met a wonderful lady named Andring Naliponguit whom I fondly refer to as 'Nanay' (mother). She was 74 years old then. She was an exceedingly kind woman who welcomed me with open arms and open heart into her family. This month of February, she is turning 92.
Nanay Andring is the mother to seven children, four boys and three girls. When her youngest child was just one year old, her husband passed away suddenly leaving her to raise her children all by herself. Nanay Andring is a woman of faith and passionately believes that God has helped her raise her seven children. She worked several jobs, selling vegetables, fruits, washing clothes for neighbors and other decent and honest jobs just to earn money to feed her children and send them to school. Her older children also helped by working while studying as a means of helping their Nanay take care of their younger siblings and put food on the table. The little food that they have is always shared equally among each other as a family.
Nanay has kept her faith in God, never missed Sunday mass, taking her children to mass and teaching them about the faith. Her children are so grateful to her for all the sacrifices she made to keep them alive and sending them to school until college. Her older son became the breadwinner helping Nanay take care of the younger ones go through school. This older son settled down in his mid-30's once the youngest one finished college and got a job. At present, six of her children are married and have their own families, all living nearby to Nanay. One daughter is not married and lives with Nanay.
From 20023-2006 I lived with Nanay Adring's family. I was very blessed because they made me feel like I belonged to the family. Nanay would scold me as she would her own child whenever I came home late at night. I remember the first time i came home late and found that the door was locked. It was midnight, we had finished a youth meeting and were just hanging out afterwards. Some of the youths accompanied me home. When I found the door locked, I walked around to the window and called the name of her daughter who lived with her. To my surprise, Nanay answered. 'What time is it? Where were you?' She interrogated as a parent would their own children if they came home late and not letting her know where they were. At this point I knew I belonged to the family because she scolded me, but for me, it was okay. I felt she cared about me and I appreciated her worrying about me being in a foreign land and taking me under her care.
It was with Nanay Andring's family that I became fluent with the Visayan language and learned more about the Filipino culture. I used to spend every birthday celebration, fiesta, Christmas, New Year with all the family members. Nanay would never speak to me in English, only in Binisaya so that I could learn faster. Everywhere I went in Mindanao, whether on vocation campaign or being assigned to Ozamiz on my second term, people were always surprised to discover that I was fluent in the language. Even when I was assigned in other Region/Mission Units I could stll remember and maintain my fluency in the Visayan langage. People are surprised that even for almost 10 years being away from Mindanao, I still haven't forgotten the language. It's because of the love and care of Nanay Andring, my greatest teacher. She made me feel like her own child, and always claimed that I am her imported daughter.
Furthermore, her faith is God in raising seven children inspires me a lot. She is greatly loved by her children and grandchildren. Sometimes, I am ashamed living with Nanay because she would attend morning mass everyday at 6am while I would only attend Sunday masses. She challenged my faith. I am deeply grateful and blessed having met this amazing and wonderful woman. I am glad to have a second family. Now that I am re-assigned to Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, it's nice to have a family to go home to every once in a awhile, and enjoy the company of God's people. During my free time, or on special occasions, I always look forward to spending time with Nanay Andring and her family. It is nice to have a home, where I feel comfortable and welcome. A special gratitude to Nanay Andring and the Naliponguit famiy for adopting me as part of their family. To God be the glory.