Voice of the Brethren: Ka Lowell Menorca II
Letter to his mother. Please take time to read and feel every word from his heart for we are all sons and daughters of our mothers. How do you treat your mother?
Dear Ka A.E.,
I know you have many emails and exposé to publish, I would just like to send you this letter and if ever, can you please publish it so that it will reach my mother. Thank you po. ~ Lowell Menorca II
My Letter to my Mama,
One of the things I’ve learned in life is that we are products of the choices we made, but more importantly, we are MOLDED by the things we didn’t choose, to be exactly the person we are now…
I dedicate this letter to Ka Fredisminda Robosa Menorca, Ka Minda to most people, Nene to my Papa, and simply Mama to me, Anthony and Liza.
My mother by any standard, is a strong woman. She braved the hardships and poverty of her hometown in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. Growing up in a traditional world bound by common provincial mentality, she was made to stop her studies simply because it was a common practice that girls will only end up as a housewife so there is no importance in pursuing higher education. At a very young age, she was very strong-willed and nothing stopped her, she worked and strived hard to continue her studies and eventually made it to be the oldest student to enter high school in her class at the age of 17, but she ignored the insults and ridicule and pursued her studies. Despite the odds and financial constraints, she was able to study midwifery and was able to go to Amsterdam to work as a Nurse. She battled homesickness and fought the urge to go back home in hopes for a better future for her and her family back in the Philippines. Every paycheck, she would only keep a very meager allowance for herself, and send every cent to her family back home so they could continue their studies, all 7 of them. She later on moved to Canada because it has a better citizenship program and she wanted to petition her whole family. She later on became one of the pioneer members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in that part of the world. Many years later, she was able to petition her mother and siblings to Canada. Fortunately (according to my dad), unfortunately (according my mom as she always joked about it) she went home, met my father (3rd Year student inthe Ministry), got introduced to Ka Erdy as my father proposed marriage, she accepted, they got married and lived happily every after, or so the fairy-tale says.
I could only imagine how torn she must have been when she had to choose between the comfort and luxury of living abroad, enjoying the fruits of her labor, or the hardships of living back in the Philippines, inside the Ministry. There was one night when I heard my parents fighting (actually it was just my mom shouting while my father patiently waits for her to calm down, she had a bit of a temper that’s why) and my mother said “Nagsikap akong makaalis ng Mindoro dahil ayaw kong maghirap, pinilit kong makapag-abroad para sa pamilya ko. Ang sarap-sarap sarap na ng buhay ko sa abroad, maayos ang kinikita ko, maalwan ang buhay ko, tapos pinabalik mo pa ako dito, tapos ganito lang pala ang magiging buhay ko…” (I strived to get out of Mindoro because I don’t want to live in poverty, I tried to go abroad for my family. I had a good life, I had a good salary, I had a comfortable life, then you asked me to go back here and now this is the kind of life I have.) Whenever I remember these lines I would think that it’s a scene from a Susan Roces tele-serye. That argument ended… my mother still furious, my father would embrace her silently until she would quiet down, they sat down by the bed, my mother still in tears, my father would gently talk to her and tell her… “Huwag mong paghinayangan ang mga bagay na iniwan mo sa abroad. Ipinaranas sa iyo yun ng Ama upang makita ang laman ng puso mo kung alin ang pipiliin mo, ang ginhawa at marangyang buhay o ang buhay sa Ministerio gaano man ito kahirap. Basta tulungan mo ako sa aking pagtupad ng aking Tungkulin at ang lahat ng pangangailangan natin ay pawang idaragdag ng Ama sa atin at higit pa, iyan ang sampalatayanan mo.” (Don’t regret the things that you left abroad. God allowed you to experience all of thet so He can see inside your heart and see which will you choose, the comforts and luxuries in life or the life in the Ministry no matter how hard it may be. Just help me fulfill my divine Duties and all of our needs, God will provide and so much more, have faith in that.) Then they saw me peeking from the partly opened-door, also crying because my parents were fighting, my father called me over, picked me up and let me sit on his lap, he explained to me that what happened was only normal to every couple and that it does not mean they do not love each other. They both hugged me and explained to me what happened and then my father prayed. That moment marked my heart on the kind of parents I have and imprinted in my mind to what kind of husband and father I want to be someday. And when I was older I asked my father if there was ever a time that he got so fed up with my mother’s temper that he lost it and hit her? My father looked at me straight in the eyes and told me that no matter how upset he was, he never laid his hands on my mother and told me to make a promise that what ever happens, I will never hurt nor lay my hand on a woman, my mother, my wife or my daughter, because hurting other people, especially women is NOT a sign of strength but a sign of WEAKNESS. I gave him my word which I will keep until the end.
I call my Mama, a SUPERWOMAN. Why? Because she is the strongest woman I personally know. She stood by my father through thick and thin, and supported him without any reservations. She was for me, the best mom. She was a strict disciplinarian (can’t emphasize enough) and never spoiled me eventhough I was the only child for a long time. She had to do a lot of compromises in terms of luxury and comfort (which she was accustomed to because of her life abroad) but she never compromised on my education, she put her foot down when she insisted that I study in UP Diliman during my elementary years, (considered the best school back then). So even if we were assigned in Taytay Rizal, she insisted that I finish my studies there, meaning I had to wake up at 4AM everyday, commute by jeepney 5 rides total going to school and 5 rides again going back. Due to financial constraints, it would be my mom who would be sitting on the Jeepney bench and I will be sitting on my lunch kit in the middle and end of the aisle. At a very young age, I was already big-built so you can only imagine how strong that lunch kit was and the kind of mockery I had to endure. Even if I wanted to sleep, I couldn’t, because I was in the middle of the aisle, and all those passengers fare would eventually be handed to me, so in effect I was the “konduktor” (man in charge of receiving jeepney fares). I remembered that I only had my lunch kit and a basket filled with vegetables and fruits like Papaya, mangoes, bananas (bought fresh from the market) and my mom would also be carrying a bag full of children’s dresses. Why? Because my mom would spend the whole day from morning til afternoon and wait for me in the waiting area where the other parents or yayas waited and she sold fruits and vegetables and baby dresses which we bought in Divisoria for fare money going home and a little extra for food when we get home. You maybe asking why I didn’t have a school bag. Because books then were very expensive and notebooks too and we could not afford them so I waited for hand-me-downs from those who were ahead of me in school. The rest I will only get to read when I’m in the library. That is why after classes, I would always end up going to the library to do my assignments and advance reading. I knew back then that we had a poor life, but my Mama never made me feel that we were deprived. We didn’t have television, so I was one of those kids who went to our neighbors and peek at the open door just to see a television program. At a very young age, I would go to the nearby cafeteria near our house and I volunteer to clean the floor, wash the dishes, pick up the used plates and even clean the surroundings in exchange for food which I can bring home. It was just me and my mom at home because we can only see my father during the weekends since he was assigned as the Coordinator Minister in Cavite. There was one time when the owner of the cafeteria didn’t want me to work because I was sick and instead only wanted to give me food so I can bring home to my mom. But as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t accept it. I don’t think it was boastful pride, I just didn’t want to think that I was begging for food. I remember being teary-eyed that time because I felt so helpless. The owner of the cafeteria saw that I was just silent but was already in tears yet I did not accept the food and she probably knew how I felt so she went ahead and gave me a light work load. I knew that I was only a boy then but I had to work like a man for my mom who was also working hard for us since my father’s allowance was barely enough for his own daily needs there in his assignment. Back then, ministers’ wives were not strictly prohibited to have a livelihood so as long as it did not interfere with the minister’s duties and will not put any disgrace to the Ministry.
There was a time when we had to go to Divisoria to buy her supply of baby dresses which she sells to her patrons. She would leave me in a “carenderia” (food stall) while she goes around the different stalls to buy her supplies. Most of the time we would miss our meals but I never complained. I would carry all the plastic bags with supplies and had to walk fast, because my mom walked fast. She told me that time is precious and should always be maximized. One of those times, I was already so hungry and I saw a signage of Jollibee from afar and glanced at it at the corner of my eye. I guess my mom saw me glancing and we stopped walking, she asked me if I wanted to eat at Jollibee, I said no because I knew that we couldn’t afford it. She repeatedly asked me if I wanted to eat there and I always said no. But she insisted we go there and I just bowed my head (because I was sorry that my mom may have felt compelled to take me there). She asked me what I wanted, I said I didn’t want anything and would just like to drink water. I went to the counter, asked the lady for a glass of water while the family beside me in the line was ordering burgers and chicken and ice cream and they were so happy that their parents could buy them everything they wanted while I was there pretending I don’t want anything but water. I didn’t want to add to my mother’s worries. I savored the few minutes I was near the counter to smell the freshly cooked burgers, gulped my water and returned to my mom with my freshly eaten imaginary burger. But to my surprise, my mom was already seated, a tray was on the table, I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a burger, a small cup of softdrinks and a small pack of fries. I guess my eyes popped wide open with joy because I saw a smile on my mother’s face that only a true mother would feel whenever she sees how happy her child is. I asked her where her food was, why is it only one meal. She just smiled and I knew that it only meant she could barely afford it. She told me to pray first before I gobble the whole thing down. I was the happiest kid that time. I gave her the burger first and asked her to cut it in half, she just bit a small piece and told me that she didn’t really like it so that I will eat the rest, and I nibbled on that burger like I never wanted the day to end, savoring every small bite, every piece of fries, every sip of softdrinks. Looking back, I can see how much my mother sacrificed for me. That is why even up to this day, I would surprise my mother and take her to Jollibee and order a burger meal and we would share it and I would never fail to tell her that story to remind her how much I appreciate her love for me and that I am forever indebted to her for bring me out into this world and raising me the best she could under the harshest of conditions and I promised her that I will never fail to remind her how much I love her back and let her know that her sacrifices were not in vain for I grew up with God’s help and guidance to be the kind of son that they have always hoped for. Then my mom would tell “Anak, iang taon na ang lumipas… maghahati pa rin ba tayo sa burger na ito? Eto ang pera, bili ka na ng isang bucket ng manok oh.” (Son, it’s been so many years, are we still going to share a burger, here’s some money, buy yourself a bucket of chicken.) That’s how me and my mother would joke around whenever I would take every opportunity to take her out and make “pasyal”.
Even during my adult life, I would always be close to my parents. I would never be ashamed to hold their hands, embrace them and always kiss them on the cheeks even in public, because a son or daughter’s love for his parents, especially his mom is nothing to be ashamed of. That is why I hate seeing other people talk back or even shout at their parents or become mean to them especially in their elderly days when they are already weak and helpless. I guess it will be God who will punish those who mistreat and neglect their parents, for it is my personal belief that if I cannot even love or show compassion to my own mother or father, how much more can I proclaim that I love my brethren or even God without sounding like such a hypocrite? But that is just my own perception. I would never do that to my parents nor my sibling, no matter what because there will always be room for LOVE.
Now you might be wondering why am I saying all of these NOW… Because as of today, my mother is already in Canada and she left without me being able to see her or even say goodbye.
My mother who is already very elderly (but still looking very beautiful! She might strangle me with that statement) is a vital witness on how we were detained there in Central because she was also in a way detained, unable to leave and go wherever she wanted without asking permission (usually denied) and without the company of 4-6 guards. Imagine that! What will my mother do? Put her wheel chair to fifth-gear and do a gone-in-60-seconds escape? As much as we wanted to take her with us when we were rescued, she begged off due to her health conditions. That is why as painful as it was, I had to leave her knowing atleast that Ka Eduardo nor the Sanggunian will not harm her because she has nothing to do with their crimes against me. But since she’s the only one left in the house, with one caregiver (who reports to Sanggunian) and 6 guards guarding her 24/7, I was afraid that depression might make her condition worse. That is why I asked my sister Liza, who is in Canada to get our mom and take Mama with her to Canada where she could be taken cared of. Even with much hesitation, I was able to convince my mother to go to Canada and leave everything behind, atleast for the moment, because I don’t want to worry about her especially when things get harder and tougher with the court trials coming up. This is definitely going to be a long battle.
The most painful part was that I couldn’t even see my mom or send her off at the airport because of all the death threats and frivolous libel cases charged against me and questionable arrest warrants in order to harass me to stop the cases against the Sanggunian. I got this picture this morning when she was already in their Taiwan stop-over going to Vancouver, Canada.
I’m am just glad that my mother is already safe and that she refused to be used against me because she knows the truth. And even if the time comes when she will be forced to go against me, I am prepared for whatever they throw at me. I will not budge for as long as those people who did those unimaginable crimes to me and my family are still free and at large and are not held accounted for their crimes, I will continue this FIGHT. That is my solemn promise, to bring the truth out so that justice will prevail. Again, my FIGHT is not against the CHURCH, it is against those who broke the law and committed the crimes. Don’t confuse yourself.
My message to my beloved mother: “Mama… I just want you to know na mahal na mahal ka namin. You are always in our prayers, and for as long as I live, I will make sure that we will be together again… You raised me to be the man I am now and you know the things I have gone through and the things that I still have to go through, that is how you know that I will always uphold the values you instilled in me, and I will always stand for the TRUTH and what is RIGHT. Please be stronger now Ma… I need you to be stronger now than ever before, because I will not back down, I will FIGHT HEAD-ON, because this is the greatest fight of our faith and we will not FAIL. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH PO MAMA…”
Your loving son who misses you so much,
Lowell R. Menorca II
And to those who may be using the social media (cloned accounts, hate mails, threat accounts) to make a mockery out of me and my situation or those who aims to discredit me and humiliate me, my message to you is this, “Do what you must, but don’t expect me to do the same. You may not know everything or anything about me that is why I don’t expect you to understand what I’m doing. I don’t resort to name calling or cheap shots because my mother did not raise an uncivilized son. My words you may refuse to believe, but my actions will prove otherwise.”
Thank you for sharing a very personal part of you to the rest of us. Although a lot of people would probably be quick to judge for what you are and what you are not, but rest assured that those who really do know you, will never think less of you. Please continue to share these things to us for more and more people in the church right now are losing hope in humanity because of the many atrocities perpetrated by the very Ministers who were supposed to shepherd and guide us to the perfection of our faith. Let your message resonate throughout the hearts and minds of the people, especially the people who are still blind to the TRUTH. Thank you for all your sacrifices and your unyielding stand for the TRUTH. God bless you and your family always, especially you mother who is now far away from you, but never far from your heart.
“They tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds.”
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