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Defining the modern Pinay mum

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Having been away from the Philippines since 2008 to pursue what I thought at that time was the “greatest adventure of my life” in New Zealand and extending that dream for a “more exciting adventure” in Australia 10 years later, I have almost completely forgotten what my life was back in the Philippines as a mother and a homemaker.

My parents and mother-in-law were my primary support network in raising the children; secondary were our household helpers to help with the rest of my duties at home. I had a very hectic academic career back then, teaching, researching and doing community work, and it necessitated all the help I could get.

My husband was equally busy trying to make a living as a farmer-business owner until it became too much for both of us due to burnout and financial worry. We both could not understand that despite all our efforts and plans, we could not seem to advance in life. We wanted out, and we wanted a new life for our family with very young kids back then. 

Now, reflecting on these life experiences and how different my life is, away from what is truly “home”, I wondered if other mothers felt the same. I wondered how other Pinoy mums see themselves as a “modern Pinoy mum” – in my definition as a woman now away from her motherland and living a new life in Australia in the midst of modernity and advancement. I think about how they could navigate living in a different country, finding ways to balance work and home for those who earn a living, and for those who are homemakers, would their routines and concerns be the same. I wondered what their priorities were and what their immediate aspirations or thoughts were about their situation. 

Here are some very interesting insights from different women that I interviewed.

Lea Marinas

Healthcare Worker

Lea Marinas with her sons David and Joshua
Lea Marinas with her sons David and Joshua

For Lea, “A modern Pinay Mother is versatile, persistent, and consistent with everything. She must have a good heart, body and mind; be healthy to be able to do everything with faith and believe in God that everything is possible.” Lea advises other mothers out there: “Just be yourself, stay strong, do the right things and believe in yourself.”

Lea also believes that “if others can do it, then of course we Filipino mothers can do it too because we are blessed with everything. We just need to practice getting everything right and should always be honest and have integrity. She has a full-time or part-time job and can work not only on house chores but also on house repairs (DIY skills). A modern Pinay mum can also be a Dad, brother, sister tutor, friend, and playmate for her children.”

Loida Ramos Benson

Full-time Mother

Loida Ramos Benson and partner Edsel with children Eryx, Eryl and Eryn
Loida Ramos Benson and partner Edsel with children Eryx, Eryl and Eryn

Loida’s situation is quite unique, as she had given up a lot of her working life in the Philippines and decided to be a full-time mother here in Australia. My takeaway here is that a modern Pinay mum is ready to pivot and make a lot of adjustments for her family. 

Below are Loida’s words:

“I wonder whether you need to have work to be called a modern Pinay mum.

I was a businesswoman in the Philippines before we decided to migrate. I owned a pre-school and was also a Special Education (SPED) teacher (Readathon Playschool). We also had a coffee shop (Miao Cat Cafe), and I served as a clothes designer and procured ‘taga bili kuno’ in our garment factory.

Life was really busy. But then we closed everything because my husband decided to emigrate and bring the whole family. We needed to do it for his career as a mining engineer. I am a supportive wife. And it was also our wish that our children would be able to study here in Australia. I have not worked for four years now and decided to be a full-time mum.

So, when I encountered the question about what it is like to be a modern-day Pinay Mom living in Australia and read all the comments, I had a big question in my mind. Out of all the answers, mine does not fit nor compete with what everyone has become after migrating. I became a full-time mom and a wife. Nothing fancy. Cooking, gardening, sending kids to school, washing clothes, cleaning house and all other things a mom will do, not ‘modern’, not ‘working, not ‘super’. But this is what I decided to be!

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For me, a Modern-Day Pinay Mom living in Australia is a typical Filipino mom who makes sacrifices every day, choosing to give their loved ones a good life and ensure they have a better meal, a better home, and a better family. Different sacrifices in different circumstances, yet the same goal: We just want to be the greatest mom!”

Rayding Bensani

Working at the Philippine Consulate, Solo Parent

Rayding Bensani
Norayda ‘Rayding’ Bensani

Rayding, for me, shows a lot of courage and resilience. Her story is below.

“A modern Pinay mum is comparable to a jack of all trades. She works not only for house chores but as well as the house repairs (DIY work) She can also be a dad, yaya (nanny), tutor, friend, playmate etc.

Unimaginably much of a stronger wonder woman, emotionally, socially, mentally and physically!

As I said, a Pinay mum is comparable to a ‘jack of all trades’ because a Pinay can do anything for her children. Regardless of the location naman ang mga Pinay mums, here in Australia or anywhere else, may kasabihan nga tayo na isusubo na lang eh ibibigay pa sa anak. I came here to Australia in 2020, during the pandemic, and was deployed by the Department of Foreign Affairs as a Consular Assistant. I am with my two children. The kids easily adjusted, but not me kasi from scratch ako. It is difficult at first because I started from zero e, wala akong gamit so need ko bumili at mahirap maghatid sundo sa six-year-old kid sa school.

I struggled when I first came to Australia with my two children, not financially but struggling for my time and adjusting to another culture. Things like how to manage my family and work, from dropping my child at school and going to work. I’m a single mother with sole custody of my children. So, obviously, I’m the mother and the father at the same time. As a Pinay mum, I may say that she is comparable to the jack of all trades because she has all the work, from easy to hard work. It is like a transformation of one person to another person, a profession to another profession.

A modern Pinay mum is no longer a typical Pinay mum. She now excels in her new and own style without having trouble getting her hands full. Let us just say that in the technology industry, we have smart appliances, so Pinay mums are smart mums. Cheers to all modern Pinay mums.”

Emille Roxas

Disability Support Worker currently on maternity leave

Emille Roxas and partner Emmanuel with children Ishmael and Iris
Emille Roxas and partner Emmanuel with children Ishmael and Iris

I sense that Emille’s thoughts centred on self-care and not being guilty about it. This is Emille’s take on the modern Pinay mum:

“A modern Pinay mum living in Australia is a mum who’s working an 8-hour shift and still has time to take care of the kids and the house. A mum who won’t feel guilty about putting her kids in childcare and ordering Uber eats for dinner.

Being a modern Filipina mum means being able to take care of her children even though she somehow forgets to take care of herself. Everything we do as mums is focused on our kids to the point that we sometimes forget about ourselves. For this Mother’s Day, I hope we can find time to give ourselves a chance to enjoy it even without our kids.”

Ruby Toal

Stay-at-home Mum to two kids under 4, former Aged Care Worker

Ruby Toal
Ruby Toal

I love Ruby’s perspective in the sense that she wants to continue providing a bridge between cultures of the “now” and the culture of where her family came from. 

Ruby has this to say:

“For me, a modern Pinay mum living in Australia is someone who teaches Filipino values to her non-PH resident children. It may also include introducing PH culture, traditions, food and language. I also believe that a modern Pinay mum has an open mind to learn and understand about other cultures, especially from her other half and from the country her family is living in, which is Australia. I believe that a modern mum has a discussion with her partner if she has one, on which parts of the family’s different cultural backgrounds work for their own family rather than being a stickler to just do everything that she was brought up with.”

In conclusion, while each mum’s situation is different, they are thriving, and they are innovating, they are ready to embrace change. They are strong, they are still family oriented but still outward looking, selfless and always willing to serve others. They are truly our heroes.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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