A salute to all mothers in the world

Last Sunday, we joined Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Pakistan, the United States and other countries in celebrating Mother’s Day. Our day of celebration comes much later than the traditional Mother’s Day in the Gulf region that falls on March 21 of every year.

A male friend of mine described Mother’s Day as a creation of western capitalists to amass profits at the expense of matriarchs all over the world. Profit away, I thought. When else can I have people greeting me for doing such a great job as a mom? The sweetest tribute came from my only child, 28-year-old daughter Estelle, who said I was the best mom ever. Of course, no one else can challenge this statement, as I am her only mother, so she has no point of comparison whatsoever.

Mother’s Day for the UK and Ireland is on March 30, while France, Sweden and Morocco have designated May 25 as Mother’s Day. No matter what the date is, it is always good to set aside a special day to honor mothers around the world. If you dare disagree, please be bold enough to explain why to your own mother.

Some say, of course, that one does not need to set a day aside to honor one’s mother. As the vessel of life, and the light of the family, mothers must be honored every day. But how can a celebration stand out as a declaration of love when it is quietly done in isolation, without the rest of society, if not the world, knowing about it? Mother’s Day enables children and grandchildren to say thank you, to the mothers that gave birth to them and nurtured them through the years. It is a celebration for mothers to boast about, long after the day is done and over with. Here in the Philippines, a lot of families celebrated Mother’s Day without the celebrants physically present. As a labor-sending country, we have mothers scattered around the world, with a great number situated in the Middle East. These mothers are far from their children’s embrace, tending to the kids of other nationalities, in order to pay for the education of their children back home.

Some of these Filipino mothers are working in government hospitals and clinics in the Middle East, valiantly keeping up a brave front amid rising cases of MERS-CoV. Their children must be worried about them but their vocation as medical workers and hospital staff comes first.

In Hong Kong and Taiwan, we have mothers working there as caregivers and nannies, loving the people they work for and with, as much as they love their jobs. Most Filipino workers especially in hospital care are quite known for their compassion and generosity of spirit, going beyond the call of duty to make sure that their patients are comfortable and well taken cared of.

It is important to see the multiple roles attached to migrant workers regardless of nationalities, especially if they are women. Discrimination and sometimes, oppressive behavior, are directed at these women who have to battle unkind human behavior on many fronts — as women, as foreigners, as migrant workers, and all three combined in the case of overseas domestic workers.

Whether it is Mother’s Day in your country or not, let us remind ourselves that these Filipino women toiling overseas are not commodities to be traded, or slaves to be kept on a leash or shouted at or abused at will. They are mothers, daughters, sisters — the sun and stars of their families — part of a global sisterhood that knows the highs and lows of life, as women often do. Mother’s Day is especially for them, too.

Arab News Link: A salute to all mothers in the world

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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