A mother of two who sent her children to a private Catholic school wouldn’t be able to afford it. She wasn’t able to finish her last year in civil engineering because of an unplanned teenage pregnancy. She built her dreams for an accident instead of building hers which has been built long before.
The lovers turned into foes. They haven’t enjoyed their youth. Their children (7 and 5 years old respectively) came to know what a failed marriage was all about. My mother, an undergraduate with 2 mouths to feed, resorted to being a street vendor selling repacked goods like garlic, pepper, and even “tawas” to name a few (hence my poem “Ang Bawang Ni Nanay” when I graduated cum laude in college).
Noble as it may be, it can’t earn two children a better education only shouldered by one–a weak shoulder to start with. She resorted to borrowing money and not being able to repay it. It was for a good cause, after all.
Growing up, and even until today, I’ve heard and still hearing people supposed-to-be understanding her plight name calling her: “estafadora,” “manggagantso,” “manloloko.” She’s been the female version of Robin Hood. And she’s as Dua Lipa-ish when she does not give a fuck.
A few years later, my sister and I, growing the hardest way possible, continuously grow wings to fly to greater heights. I am never ashamed of my story and still credit to where and whom credit is due. Having an education funded by “estafa” by my mother because she doesn’t have a choice and me dating older guys during college just to let both ends meet. In fact, this could’ve been titled “My Education Was Funded By Estafa (by my mother) And Prostitution (by me).
When you contribute to the growth of a weakling, you take pride. But you don’t ask an eaglet, once he becomes an eagle, to return part of his wings because you provided for it.
There is a very thin line between repaying a goodwill wholeheartedly from asking for repayment for an un-wholehearted goodwill. And I take offense on the latter.
By this time, I’m as full-fledged like those who have helped me during my frail bygones. And I know how to pay it forward. After all, I learned kindness from so much unkindness. And I can’t see myself cold-heartedly staring a frail child that I once was.
I have always been holding onto my life’s adage: turn my scars into stars. And that will never change. Yes, my education was funded by estafa and other things you call it. But not anymore. Not today.
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