"From her I learned that I must love and support my children even when I do not agree with them."
Last March 1, my mother Lourdes Maestrado La Viña, Inday to all her friends, celebrated her 90th birthday. There are lessons to be learned from a life of a woman who has lived this long.
Although born in Manila when her father was a Congressman in 1930, Mom grew up in pre-World War 2 Mindanao with roots in Camiguin Island and Cagayan de Oro.
Her father Silvino Maestrado was from Camiguin—a lawyer, politician, and farmer. From my grandfather, a passionate nationalist, my mother learned how to think independently and critically, to debate and argue, and to stand for one’s principles regardless of the costs.
Her mother Josefa Chaves Maestrado belongs to prominent clans in Cagayan de Oro.. From her, my mother learned how important it was to be loyal to family and to God. To this day, as Lola Pita did, my mother goes to mass at the Xavier University Church or Saint Augustine Cathedral daily. Between the two of them, mother and daughter, they have been going to these churches more than 150 years.
My mother had one sister, Carmen Maestrado Velez. Through the years, Mom and Tita Nene fought many times—sometimes petty quarrels, at times serious ones that would last for years. It was a very big grace that in the last years of Tita Nene’s life (she died nearly 20 years ago), they reconciled and never fought again.
I cannot of course tell the story of my mother without writing about my father. Gabriel La Viña, Jr was a lawyer, a graduate of Letran College and San Beda College of Law. My father was brilliant and well-read, and while they both loved art, literature, and traveling, Dad was very different from Mom. He was an introvert while Mom was an extrovert. He was reflexively conservative while Mom dared to cross boundaries. But whatever my mother did, as bold as it was, Dad supported him. From their relationship, I learned how important it is to accept and support each other, to allow one’s partner to push boundaries, and to be always there—yes, for better or for worse.
My mother is a good mother. It is not easy to raise six children, all of whom inherited her intensity. From birth, all six of us were independent-minded and opinionated. Meals were always loud and road trips frequently erupted into fights—when we were younger for trivial reasons like who could sit in front or by the window but as we grow older for more serious reasons like our political differences and disagreement on values and priorities. From my mother, I have learned that I must love and support my children even when I do not agree with them.
My mother’s loyalty to us also extends to her in-laws and to her grandchildren. They even extend to our friends—in my case, for example, Mom is Gilbert Teodoro’s and Fr. Jett Villarin’s greatest defender in Cagayan de Oro.
My mother was active in the resistance against the Marcos dictatorship—joining the ticket of Nene Pimentel in 1980, winning as the first woman councilor of Cagayan de Oro. She joined cause-oriented organizations and did not hesitate to put her name and our family’s resources to the service of the struggle.
From the first few weeks of martial law, Mom was also brave enough to regularly go to the detention center in Camp Alagar, the Philippine Constabulary Headquarters in Cagayan de Oro, to visit a political detainee who was a son of a friend.
My mother was conscious that she was breaking new ground as a woman. That was why it did not surprise me when she told me a few years ago that she had always voted for Gabriela as her party-list choice.
Today, my mother is one of the oldest appointees of President Duterte being currently a board member of the National Museum. She is for sure qualified for this position having served for many years as the Chair of the Historical Commission of Cagayan de Oro. Suffice it to say that my mother and I do not agree on the Duterte government. But that does not bother me. After all, she raised me to be principled in my politics.
Through the years, I have seen my mother forge bonds with strong and wonderful women. They have been the anchor of Mom’s life—relatives, childhood friends, classmates from Saint Augustine Schools (predecessor of Xavier University and Lourdes College), Immaculate Concepcion College in Ozamiz, Saint Scholastica, and Saint Theresa’s, poetry reading group mates, Ikebana and Zonta friends, business colleagues, bible study companions, friends in politics, etc. You have to live for 90 years to have so many people love you.
My Mom’s biggest sorrows was to lose her son Cacoy, my youngest brother, so young at 32 years old in 1995—followed a year after by my father who died too soon at 70 years. She would not have been able to get through that grief without her friends.
In the stories of a life lived for 90 years, the love of the Almighty has never wandered far from Inday La Vina. I thank the Almighty for His protective embrace, for the call and many opportunities to live a meaningful and consequential life, and for many close and beautiful friendships gifted to Mom that made the suffering that comes with being human more bearable.
Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina