Page last updated at 04:26 UTC, Thursday, 08 August 2019 PH
Another nephew of mine, who gave the eulogy during the funeral of Meding, had a more extensive description of the role that their second mother played in bringing him up and his six other siblings. In his words: “We are all grateful that we were raised by two mothers—Mama Tessie who was the Soul of our family and Tita Meding who was the Heart of our family. Tita Meding bathe us, fed us, took care of us when we were sick. She made sure that we said our evening prayers. She walked us to school, rain or shine, and waited patiently till we were dismissed. She sacrificed her vacation time when Papa and Mama would be out of the country. She watched every TV show with us. She loved the PBA and became the biggest fan of Toyota. In turn, we watch all her TV shows as well. She loved John and Marsha and Principe Abante. I guess that was her way of releasing after having to deal with running a household and taking care of all of us at the same time. Tita Meding loved us all as if we were her own. And we all deeply felt that tremendous affection.” I must say that Meding had a lot to do to nurture in this nephew of mine the leadership and entrepreneurial qualities that he is now showing as one of the owners and top managers of the Nike franchise in the Philippines.
Another niece remembers how her Tita Meding had such a strong but silent impact on her life: “When I was dating, she would be my chaperone, quiet and discreet but with an ever watchful eye. When Tita and Lola took a liking to my boyfriend then (who became my husband), I felt assured that I had found “the one.” On the eve of my wedding, Tita Meding along with my sister, kept me company to calm the jitters of a nervous, excited bride all throughout a sleepless night. After I got married and had a house of my own, she would visit us, bringing my favorite “nilagang mani” or adobo peanuts which she had freshly cooked. Whenever we gathered for family celebrations, she would be amazed at seeing our own kids growing up, and she would take pride at how she had a major part in raising us. She was a sentimental person who treasured mementos, and as we discovered when she passed away, even notes we had written as kids were tucked in her albums and our First Holy Communion stampitas proudly displayed on her dresser mirror. Tita Meding was always my “kakampi”, the balm to any hurt feelings I had. She had deep empathy and was always sensitive to our feelings and needs. She would comfort us when we were sick and console us when we were sad. Remedios was her name, and that was what she was to us—a remedy to our pains, physical or otherwise, and a constant presence of love in our lives.”
As our country transitions to First World status in the next twenty to thirty years, will the Cleos and Medings of the world disappear? What is obvious is that there will be fewer of them. In fact, the married millennials (those over thirty-five today) are already finding difficulties getting even part-time domestic help. Fortunately, modern appliances and the proliferation of fast food, laundry and cleaning services are enabling the young couples of today to cope with running a modern household without the traditional yaya. It is inevitable, however, that the male spouse should carry a greater load of housekeeping and child rearing. In fact, most married couples of the younger generation will have both husband and wife pursuing their respective careers, especially considering the clamor for gender equality in the various professions. The greater presence of the father in the family may actually be healthy for the overall character formation of the children of Generation Z (those born after 2000). Many psychological disorders are usually attributed to the absence of the father in the family, especially during the early years of childhood. The difficulty of getting household help may actually be a blessing in disguise.
A new profession, however, seems to be filling part of the vacuum left by the traditional domestic helper. As one can observe in highly urbanized and industrialized societies like Hong Kong and Singapore, there are professional homemakers who can be contracted for a few hours during the week to do household chores like cooking, cleaning and laundering. These professionals have lives and families of their own and are not stay-in workers. In fact, there are already TESDA-type technical schools that are producing this new type of professional workers. They need not have college degrees as long as they are steeped in the science and art of home making. Examples I am familiar with are the Punlaan School in San Juan, Metro Manila, Anihan in Calamba, Laguna and Banilad in Cebu. Their services become even more relevant as more and more middle-income families decide to reside in the hundreds of thousands of condominium units being built by such companies as DMCI homes, SMDC, PHINMA Properties, Megaworld, Landmaster, etc.
Some fortunate couples, however, may still be able to continue availing of the services of the traditional Cleos and Medings, especially if these couples have the generosity of raising a large family. There will always be some females like Meding who will decide that God is not calling them to the vocation of marriage. As long as they are considered as part of the family in which they will help in doing the household chores and child upbringing, they can still find fulfilment and happiness in being silent nurturers of the future leaders of our society. It is up to the new generation of married couples to create a climate in their homes that will attract the future Cleos and Medings of the twenty first century. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.