Happy Birthday Mama!

Mama with Mariel and us at Disneyland

Today, December 8 is Mama’s Birthday. Mama is none other than my mother, Concepcion “Conchita” Bello, of course Mariel’s favorite mother-in-law. (The favorite part is a private joke between them and is maybe worth retelling one of these days). You know, Mama was more than an “in-law” to Mariel. She had in fact considered Mama as her own mother, especially when her own mommy passed away a few years ago. Any happy news or event was never complete without her being able to share it with Mama. Mariel never failed to call Mama on the phone to “report” whenever Sam had received some notable commendation in school. More than that, she was also Mama’s personal fashion consultant and was always asked to tag along numerous clothes-shopping trips to give that all-important second opinion. As far as I can recall, except for a few awkward moments when Mariel and I were newly-weds, the two of them always got along very well. They oftentimes literally provided stereoscopic critiques of my many, many bad business moves. Even conspiring to keep me off my beloved high- cholesterol diet. They loved each other genuinely. That’s why I ended up loving them both doubly.

I’m sure Mariel would have been first to greet Mama a happy birthday today. So I had decided to share with you a short tribute which Mariel read to Mama two years ago on the occasion of her 70th Birthday. So, to Mama, this one’s for you. Always remember that we all love you always and that we appreciate much how you have constantly looked after us even to this day. Happy Birthday Mama! (To our international readers, please bear with the many expressions in our Filipino language. We will try to translate some of these for you sometime. The article was never really intended to be shared with a wider audience but we thought it may be a fitting tribute today to these two exceptional women.)

(UPDATE: Mama joined Mariel in our heavenly home on October 2010. They are both terribly missed)


By: Mariel Gina F. Bello

Why do I call her a woman for all seasons? Well it’s because she’ll always there for us in all seasons of our lives and when I speak of “us”, I am referring not only to us her children but to everybody else in this room and even to those who could not be with us tonight.

              She is there in the spring of our lives, when we feel happy or excited about something, when we are about to embark on something new, whether a job, the coming of a new member of the family- a baby or a spouse or a new suitor maybe- we always felt the need to share the news and the events with her. We are happy to share this feeling with her because she genuinely shares the feeling – “kinikilig” din siya pag may bagong suitor and sometimes even acts as a matchmaker.

               She is there in the summer of our lives. When we are at the height of our career, when we do well in school or business or simply running the household and taking care of the family well, she’s always there to congratulate us and tell us we’re doing a fine job. She basks in our glory and is eager to tell everybody of our achievements.. It is not uncommon for us to hear her say, “heto ang manugang kong cardiologist”, or ang apo kong pinakamarunong sa klase, ang kapatid kong director sa ATO, etc.,etc.

               She is there in the autumn of our lives. When things and situations are not going our way, she is there to listen to our woes and drama sa buhay. Daig pa niya si tiya Dely sa dami ng problemang narinig niya and sa dami ng taong pinayuhan niya. When we’re sick, una pa natin siyang tinatawagan kaysa sa doctor. Well of course lately, humina ang practice niya kasi may ka-compitensya na siya na talagang doctor. But if you shoud see her, murmuring on the phone – it just means nagpre-prescribe na naman siya pero mahina lang kasi baka marinig ni Baguie. Para ka na ring pumunta sa doctor kasi tatanungin ka muna ng symptoms, then kung kailan nag start, ilang araw na. The dun pa lang siya magpre-prescribe. Minsan, pag sinuswerte ka, may libre pang gamot ang consultation. If being a full-fledged doctor were only based on the number of testimonies ng napagaling niya, eh matagal na natin siyang dapat na tinawag na doktora.

And finally, she is there in the winter of our lives. When things are really looking bleak and there is no where else to go, she joins us in our prayers for whatever is ailing us. She is there to console, to listen, to lend a shoulder to cry on. She helps in whatever way she can. She is incomparable sa tiyaga niyang magbantay sa ospital ng maghapon, sa pakikiramay sa namatayan, or in just simply visiting a brother to offer companionship.

She is a woman for all seasons because she too had gone through and weathered the best springs and worst winters one can go through. Some of her best springs were when she was hailed as one of Isabela’s budding beauties- of course with brains to boot and when she had her three children, Bong, Toots and Alma.

All of us know that her worst winter is when Papa had a stroke and she was tasked to care and provide for the entire family. She was a plain housewife with no job, with a husband to take care of and 3 children to send to school. If she were made of lesser stuff, she would have succumbed to self-pity and would not have known what to do. But God in his infinite wisdom knew that He can give this woman her cross because He had blessed her with an indomitable spirit. Mama had to go on and go on she did. She used her gift of gab to sell jewelry. She was a very good salesperson, might even make you buy a bridge from her (joke lang). But seriously, she managed to keep house and provide for her family’s needs through sheer determination and a lot of prayers. To this day, she tells me na napalaki niya sila Bong na hindi nanghihingi kahit kanino. Her children turned out to be responsible, decent and kind individuals who can only wish to emulate her ways in raising their own families.

They say that when one marries, she marries not only her husband but his entire family as well. I am glad to belong to this family and am happier to have mama as a mother-in-law. At first, I was a bit apprehensive because of what she might think of me. Will I be good enough for her Bong? At first, I thought that nobody will, in her eyes, be good enough for her favorite son. But that was in the beginning when we didn’t know each other well and nangangapa pa kami pareho. But as time went by, I found out she can be the kind of mother-in-law that a daughter-in-law can treat like her very own mother. Oh di ba mama, ako ang favorite mong manugang, may kadugtong nga lang, favorite na manugang na babae dito sa Pilipinas (as if meron pang iba na ganun ang description). Just shows you how wacky and witty she can be. I love watching her in parties, being the center of attention, telling stories, nagpapatawa. Bong, noticing that I have been looking would tell me, O si mama, bumabangka na naman. She really is in her element during such gatherings.

I have lost my mommy last year and I still miss her a lot. But what eases the pain is knowing I still have a mama here with me who treats me like her very own. Mama, there were times that I know that you feel na parang we do not mind you as much but please know that we may not say it often, but deep in our hearts “WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH”. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS AND FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS.