Bernardo M. Villegas
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Mothers and Gross National Happiness (Part 2)

           Mothers play a very important role in building a compassionate society.  As Pope Francis wrote in “The Joy of Love,” “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism…It is they who testify to the beauty of life.  Certainly, a society without mothers would be dehumanized, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength.  Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn…Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth…Dear mothers:  thank you!  Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world.” 

          This indispensable role of the mother in humanizing society applies to all cultures and religions.  This struck me when I enjoyed an Indian film that was a hit all over the world.  “English Vinglish” is a 2012 Indian comedy-drama film which revolves around a housewife who enrolls in an English-speaking course to stop her husband and daughter mocking her lack of English skills. Despite the ill treatment that she gets from her husband and daughter, she stays faithful to them and does everything possible to gain their respect.  In the climax of the film, the housewife, Shashi, gives a toast to her newly married niece and her husband.  In her speech, she extols the virtues of being married and having a family, describing the family as a safe space of love and respect where weaknesses are not mocked.  Shashi’s husband and daughter regret treating her with disrespect.  Her English teacher, David, declares that she has passed the course with distinction and issues her the certificate.  Sashi thanks Laurent (a Frenchman who tried to woo her without success) for “making her feel better about herself.”  Shashi’s family return to India (from New York where the wedding of her niece was held).  During their flight home, Shashi asks the flight attendant in fluent English whether she has any Hindi newspapers in Hindi version.    This is a “must” film for those who enjoy comedy with a big dose of family values.

          In developing the human capital of any country, mothers play an indispensable role.  Without them, it would be very difficult for children to grow into mature and responsible adults.  As Pope Francis wrote:  “A mother who watches over her child with tenderness and compassion helps him or her to grow in confidence and to experience that the world is a good and welcoming place.  This helps the child to grow in self-esteem and, in turn, to develop a capacity for intimacy and empathy.”  For this reason, it is important for those concerned about the quality of future generations of Filipinos to help the mothers of today to cope with the many challenges facing them in the upbringing of their children and of striking an optimum balance between their duties in their work place and in the home.

     Let me cite at least one initiative with this important mission.  Close to the University of Asia and the Pacific where I work is the Pasig Center, owned and operated by the People Engaged in People Projects Foundation, Inc.   The Center’s mission is to form and mentor women—as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters—so that they can play a vital role in caring for the family and the home.  It carries out its mission by engaging women in personal, professional, family and home enrichment activities.  By enriching the lives of those who are called the “heart of the home,” the Center enriches the lives of entire families, redounding to positive change in society as a whole.

          The direct beneficiaries of the Center are wives, mothers, business women, professionals, university students and school children who attend regular activities in the Center or at partner sites.  These women come from Pasig, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Pateros, Antipolo, Taytay and Tanay and are from all walks of life.  Each has a personal mentor who takes care of the mentee’s individual growth through personal friendship and trust.  Needless to say, the members of the households of the women who are formed and mentored in the Center are the indirect beneficiaries.  Through the virtues and skills acquired in the formative activities of the Center, the participants contribute significantly to create in their respective families a “bright and cheerful home.”  Surveys after surveys of Filipino consumers indicate that the greatest source of joy of a Filipino is a happy family.  Those who are interested in the program of activities of the Pasig Center may contact 0917 881 5060 or 0917 794 1058.  The email address is For comments, my email address is