Thursday, December 13, 2012

Petronila’s parenting

SIATON, NEGROS ORIENTAL -- On the first day of November at sitio Agbagacay in the seaside barangay of Bonbonon in Siaton, Negros Oriental, all children and all those who have experienced being her “children” came home from all over the world to be with their beloved mother and grandmother, Petronila Gadiana Jaugar-Palalon, born Nov. 1, 1916.
It was afterall Petronila’s birthday. The special day overshadowed the Halloween, All Souls’ and All Saints’ holidays for it had become an annual homecoming for this huge clan. Petronila’s household is home to children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren from her own immediate family, to that of her brothers and sisters. With a very sharp memory, Petronila enumerated them from the oldest: Basilisa, Valeriana, Ponciano, Premitiva, Eleuterio, Cornelio, Roberta, Atelana, and the twins Eugenio and Bernardina. Petronila is the youngest, and admits to be pretty but she said, “…not as popular as Valeriana as she was taller, slender, and really more beautiful with natural curls in the crowning glory. Am really the not-so-pretty-one when compared to my sisters.” People around her always disagree. Petronila survived them all, and has remained oh-so- beautiful at 96. On her birthday morning, as she was serenaded by her children and “children”; as she was looking regal in emerald green. I love the sharp European features softened by the Asian lineage, so evident on Petronila’s lovely presence. She told me that the Jaugars are of Polish origin. She said, “Wanti’s grandfather was from Poland.” Proof to this good-looking lineage is the fact that two of the Island’s beauty queens come from the fifth Jaugar generation: Miss Negros Oriental Centennial Theoliza Jaugar Quilnet, and 2007 Ms Silliman Sarah Jane Martin. Wanti, the great great great grandfather of the Jaugars, is Siaton’s legendary man. Known not just as the town mayor but as the one with the extra ordinary powers that drove all pirates away. The creek near the old seat of government was named Wanti in honor of his heroism. Wanti’s legend comes strong in Petronila’s total being. He was her hero, and she understood much her father Jose’s authoritarian discipline as all stemming from the original “superhero” of the family. Why this much love for Petronila? Our birthday celebrator is fondly called “Mama Itdol” or “Lola Itdol” by everyone here in Siaton. Lola Itdol is well-loved as she was their very loving mother. Her niece Rosario Jaugar-Quilnet, former supervisor of the Department of Education here in Siaton with much sense of pride to her close connection, recalled that she was the baby who brought Mama Itdol home. The Jaugar sisters were forbidden to be with any of the Palalon boys. The sisters’ father Jose told them that he did not find a goodlooking one in the Palalon pedigree. But the Palalon boys were so obsessed with the Jaugar sisters that everyday, they would wait for any of the girls to be on the road. In the olden days in this town, the men would get their women by force, and it was for this reason that women would have a lanot (woven chastity belt) under their long skirts. Two of the Palalon boys successfully won over two of the Jaugar sisters, and Jose was already at war with the Palalon family. It came as a shock when the youngest Itdol, 24 years old then, eloped with a young tailor named Hilario who turned out to be another Palalon. Itdol was disowned by his father and so Hilario took his young bride to Bacolod. But Jose’s favorite daughter-in-law Isak, the Spanish mestiza wife of Cornelio, died while giving birth to Rosario. Jose had no choice but to ask Itdol to come home and breastfed baby Rosario. Itdol had her two-month old baby Librada, her first, when she came home for baby Rosario. It was through the need for parenting that Petronila was reunited with her beloved family. And it did not just end with Rosario. With enduring life lessons, she became the mother of all the children in the Jaugar clan. Generation to the next generation, she became the “mother” with much wisdom for life’s survival. Petronila was as hardworking as her husband Hilario. She was her husband’s assistant at the tailoring, and proved to be a good tailor herself. She would join him in their cornfields, and in the evening, they would go fishing as they had their own bungsod, a traditional fishing gear. Petronila and Hilario then went into copra-trading, and she became more entrepreneurial in spirit with a lot more sources of income including cattle and goat raising, piggery, poultry, rice fields with carabaos-for-rent, a sari-sari store, sound system rental for benefit dances and other public events. Petronila taught her children to work as hard. The children only had the helpers of the copra business looking after them while their parents were busy working. The Palalon kids learned to do household chores at a very young age, and became helpers themselves to their parents’ various undertakings when they reached their teenage years. With their mother’s emphasis on the importance of education, some of left Siaton to find work in Cebu to sustain their respective dreams of schooling. Petronila now takes much pride in her children’s success stories: Librada is an elementary school teacher in General Santos City, Edilberto is a professional driver in Toronto, the late Julian was a Philippine Navy coastguard, the late Jaime was a nautical engineer, Lydia is an agriculturist who opened the door for her siblings to find opportunities in Canada, Tommy is an electrical engineer in Toronto who is studying in a flying school to become a professional pilot, Teresita graduated with a secretarial degree, Rodrigo finished Commerce and is also working in Toronto, and the youngest Maria Elena graduated with an accounting degree from Silliman University and now also works in Canada. All of them are thankful to their mother Petronila for teaching them the value of hard work. Petronila’s way to good parenting was not to manicure the road-to-success for the kids to have a smooth life, but to teach them the value of work and good manners when with other people -– the best keys to face the realities of what she remembers as pait nga kinabuhi. “Life can be bitter, and so children must learn to work for their future sweet life,” Petronila says. What was awesome in the birthday gathering were the testimonies of sweet life that all came from being with Lola Itdol, their “world’s greatest mother”, according to world-traveler grandson Jeferson who grew up under Lola Itdol’s loving care because his father had died when he was yet a little boy and his mother went away with another man. Thank God for a great blessing named Lola Itdol.

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