Courageous Mothers in Baguio

For some, motherhood extends from their family to the sectoral groups they work with. Consider the stories of these mothers in Baguio City whom I interviewed for this article on this important day.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 14, May 11-17, 2008

May 11 is Mothers’ Day, when fathers show mothers their appreciation for their partnership in bringing up their families. For sons and daughters, it is a time to greet their mothers and express their gratitude for their guidance and love.

For some, motherhood extends from their family to the sectoral groups they work with. Consider the stories of these mothers in Baguio City whom I interviewed for this article on this important day.

Struggle for better-trained health professionals

Dean Ruth Thelma P. Tingda is a wife to an Ibaloi husband and a mother of three – a son and two girls. She is a pillar of the nursing course in one of the oldest educational institutions in this city, when the program was opened just five years ago by another mother who may have had a vision that the course would gain ground as a fad among students.

Tingda, an active officer of the Philippine Nursing Association (PNA) in the region, was among the professional nurses who were at the forefront of the fight to investigate the nursing board leakage scam that happened a few years ago.

She cared so much for her extended family – the graduates from her institution. She wanted them to have the best training. Dean Ruth, as she is fondly called, started last school year the Enhancement Program as part of the program of the College of Nursing. This actually was a review, where the students were “rehearsed” in preparation for the Nursing Board Exam. What made it different was that the fee charged for the course was less than half the amount charged by the well-advertised review centers.

This writer learned that the program was proven fruitful. Eighty-six percent of its graduates who took the exams passed. This put her school in the rank of number 10 of its class in the country. In the December exam, 84 percent of examinees from their school, Easter College’s nursing school, passed.

Asked what made their Enhancement Program different, she said there was none. “All of the reviewees have the same lecturers, same review package, un-arranged sitting arrangements,” she said. To her nurses, she made the difference, she was a mother to them in school.

Press freedom fighter

Kathleen T. Okubo is a mother of two gentlemen and a lady. A long-time media practitioner inclined toward indigenous peoples’ interests, as she is an Ibaloi. She is unquestionably one of the media practitioners advocating press freedom.

She is active in her media organization, the Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), as a vice-president taking on media workers’ issues. In the north the organization is at the lead of the campaign against media killings and extra-judicial killings.

Recently this April, her organization climbed Mt. Pulag, the second highest mountain in the country.

“The climb was actually meant to strengthen the camaraderie of media practitioners in Baguio City,” explained this tutor to young journalists. “It is also a means of calling attention and raising the issues of environment and press freedom before the international community.”

Militant trade unionist

Nida Tundagui
is a mother and a labor union organizer in the region for fifteen years now. It is a wonder she can keep the balance between her role as a mother and her organizing work.

“Quality time is important for me in fulfilling my role as a mother in the family,” she said. Yet she claims too that she and her children do not always have the luxury of time together as she also has to be in the workplaces for trade union organizing.

She experiences the demand of her work.

She remembered a time this summer when one of her children informed her to be at their school closing program. “She cried when I told her that I had a prior commitment and arranged for her father (also a union organizer) to be with her.” She then comforted her promising they would have a simple gathering with the whole family after instead. She smiled telling the story.

“It is always important for us to explain our limitations for our time with them,” she added.

I asked her how their situation is under a woman president wjho is also a mother. Nida said mothers are now in a worse situation -facing an economic crisis. Almost all basic goods increased in price. “It is hard to buy rice. The LPG and gasoline prices increase almost weekly since the last two weeks of April,” she said.

There must be a parallel increase in wages, she said, but the administration has no political will. She said that the P125 daily wage increase bill was passed by the House of Representatives in December 2006 but some Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allies blocked it.

“In fact, the P125 daily wage increase now being pushed by Rep. Crispin Beltran through House Bill No. 1722 House Bill No. 1722 is not enough to enable us to cope with the present crises,” she said.

“GMA as president never performed her duties as a mother to the nation. It is under this administration that we have felt the worst crises. She and the members of her family were exposed as having been involved in graft and corruption. Every mother must act for her removal from the presidency as she is just causing hardship to mothers like me,” she said. Northern Dispatch / Posted by (

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