Saturday, June 20, 2020

An Open Letter from a Mother to Her Firstborn


Dearest Akira,

If you’re reading this, my son, you're probably in a better state than where we are right now. I know you won’t remember anything about this, but you survived the CoVid-19 Pandemic that has made the world unconceivably shut down for months.

My love, you came to us a week earlier than expected one morning last September, and to say that we had challenges during your first few months is an understatement. The pain of giving birth was unimaginable but the irony of it was, it’s the best pain I’ve ever endured. I have you. Thank goodness you won’t be experiencing childbirth in the future—unless you go with your future wife in the labor room, like what your tatay did.

The three of us went home the next day and we were happily stuck during the four months of my maternity leave. Not knowing what to expect, the Internet was our very best friend during your first month in this world. We embraced the fear of the unknown and prevailed—you never had any major sickness during those times. It was our first taste of a complete lockdown as a family and we managed to take care of you all by ourselves, no hired help, whatsoever.


It was already January when I went back to school and we conquered yet another challenge—we wanted to exclusively breastfeed you so I constantly pumped milk to store for you while I was away teaching other kids. After a week of re-acquainting myself with my students, I got the groove back at work. With the help of your tatay, we worked as a team, perfecting the routine of me going to work while you two shared your time together.

It was in March when an announcement from the president came—classes will be suspended for the next four days due to a virus, the novel coronavirus. At that time, I was happy that we had so much time to spend together—selfish, I know—but you know what, that day was also the last day I saw my students and co-teachers.

In idea, it was a lockdown, but they dubbed it as a Community Quarantine—which was extended a number of times, up to this day. They used different terms—which added to the confusion—to determine how severe the cases are in each city or province. Safe to say, the whole country is in confinement to prevent the spread of this new virus.


We all had to stay home—no work, no school, no nothing. It’s like a few years’ worth of holiday vacation, all squeezed into one. But in reality, it was far from being a holiday, my dear. People were getting sick, even nurses and doctors were not exempted. People are losing their jobs and there is no way they could cope but to expect help from the government. Sadly, not everyone received the much needed help.

I felt the same fear I felt when we were taking care of you during your first month. Not knowing what to expect. It felt like a zombie movie. We didn't know how the virus will be transmitted from one person to another. We were living in that movie, and it was scary, anak.

Everyone became germophobes and believe it or not, there are some people who would hoard alcohol and hand sanitizers at the grocery like they were gold. It became too much that stores started limiting the number you can actually buy. And hand washing became king—it was on TV every ten minutes.


Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. It seemed like things are getting worse each time we turn on the news while we spooned oatmeal-carrot-malunggay-banana-chicken puree (which I make fresh every three days) to your mouth. We had no choice but to face the fear of unknown. The whole world is facing the same problem and even some of the first world countries are having difficulties dealing with it.

Akira, I can still remember your first mall experience. You were a month old then and we needed to go to the grocery, so the three of us went. An old lady sat beside us and asked about your age. Imagine how shocked she was when she learned how young you were. I received some nasty remarks from her on why I brought you to the mall but I didn’t answer back and accepted her comments. She will never understand our reason—you have to learn to choose your battles wisely. Her concern was major though, you could easily catch any disease. You're still this cute, fragile baby with nary a vaccine on your name yet. But you survived that first mall experience, my son.


Your tatay and I had great plans for your first ever summer. We planned on bringing you to a beach to frolic all day. I can imagine your first reaction as you dig your feet in the sand, as you hear the crashing of the waves, as you taste the saltwater in the air—all your senses confused, in a happy way. But none of that happened, we had to stay at home.

Now, as we are facing this crisis, I have fears like any mother would have; the fear of you getting sick, the fear that we will be stuck at home for the next couple of years—your tatay and I were backpackers, the thought of not being able to travel is simply unthinkable, and the fear that you wouldn’t be able to experience life as we know it right before this Pandemic. The fear of the unknown is killing me sometimes, anak.

Malls and other non-essential stores are closed and simple things like a haircut seemed to be a luxury these days. I don’t have any clue on how to cut hair so your tatay asked me to just shave it all off—he just couldn’t stand his unruly overgrown hair. It turned out great though, apart from the fact that it took you so long to recognize your tatay after his haircut.


I became more hands-on in the kitchen, Akira. Aside from preparing your food, I always look for other recipes online to perk up our meals. But sometimes, the craving for outside food became too great, so we sometimes had food delivered to have a sense of normalcy. When you grow up, anak, you should learn how to prepare your own food too! And we will go around the Philippines, we'll let you appreciate the flavors of your own country.

We do not own a car yet and commuting is non-existent during the stricter parts of the Community Quarantine so your tatay and I have to walk a couple of kilometers just to get to the nearest grocery. We'd leave you with your granny, along with bottles of frozen breast milk. Returning, we'd immediately take a bath to sanitize. You don't even recognize us as we arrive back, as we’d be wearing face masks. You see, not wearing one was prohibited, a few who were caught not wearing masks even went to jail for it—yes, it was that bad.

Some trivial items at the grocery like flour, cornstarch, and baking powder are now considered hot items—always out of stock—everyone seemed to have found cooking and baking as their new hobbies. People became passionate in the kitchen and some even use it as an opportunity to sell online to earn a little. Akira, it is important for you to chase your passion. It may not come to you right away but you have to work hard to find out what suits you in this world.


We had plans on visiting parks regularly where you could crawl or run freely. But that, of course, didn’t happen. So what we did was to have mini adventures for you to look forward to every day—like an afternoon stroll around the village and our bedtime story-telling session which you totally love. The mere sight of a book makes you go crazy—we hope that you find joy in turning actual pages of book and not by scrolling the screen of your smartphone which you could have when you reach high school, yes, we're strict about gadget-use.

Your tatay and I love to hang out with our friends because it is important to surround yourself with positive people. Luckily, we both share the same set of friends and they know you since day one. We helped each other during these times, no one ever felt that they were alone. Akira, believe me when I say that it’s okay if you do not have a lot of friends as long as the ones you have are worth keeping.

Unfortunately, our favorite watering hole—yes, we do love beer, and you could also have it when the right time comes—owned by two of our friends closed permanently due to the Pandemic. The last time we saw them face-to-face was the night before the first Community Quarantine. What we do now is meet online, an e-numan session—wine and beer while on a video call. It may not be as fun as before because of poor internet connection but what’s important is that we always find time to check on each other.


School is on hold for now, my dear, and plans of having distance or online classes are pushing through. I've been dealing with a number of work-related matters right now as I am, like most people, on a work-from-home status. I feel bad for my students though as the need to interact with their classmates will not be fulfilled. Akira, when you reach school age, remember that the aim of school is to prepare you for adult life. Do your best in every situation and do not be pressured to finish on top. Do not listen to other people when they tell you that you should have excellent grades because your nanay is a teacher. We will guide you every step of the way to whatever path you may want to pursue in the future. Like I always tell my students, you should remember that success is not defined by the amount of money you have in the bank but in pursuing what you love and doing it with much gusto—just what I have been doing for twelve years now as a teacher, and your tatay as a photographer and online storyteller.

We have been reading so much about politics lately and it’s the worst time. When you reach the age when you can vote, please do. It will spark hope, not only for you, but to your whole generation and the next ones as well. Respect other people’s opinion but please speak up when you see the need to, not only for you but for other people as well.


I couldn’t imagine getting through this time without the love of your tatay. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life than him. We may have our share of conflicts but we make it a point to resolve those right away. It is important for you to find your soul mate, anak, never settle for the wrong reasons. You may ask me about it when you feel that you found the one. And please, remember that you are not the part of a whole and you never completed our being. Your tatay and I are strong as individuals and stronger as partners. And now, we’re a team of three with the same vision without sacrificing our individualities.

I envy you, my son. You have both your parents for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Not everyone has this opportunity and all of your milestones, we happily shared. We were never given the chance to have that privilege as your grandparents were all working when they had us. The pleasure of seeing both of us the moment you wake and right before you sleep is a luxury that no one could ever buy with money. It’s a blessing for us too.

The Pandemic brought about so many changes in the way that we live our lives and you have absolutely no clue yet as it happened. The innocence and love of life that you’re showing even at your tender age gives us hope, lightening the burden that we feel right now. You wouldn’t remember this but I whispered something to you the moment I held you in my arms for the first time—you came through me, but you are not from me. And though you are with me, you do not belong to me. You are a son of the world, Akira. I am not asking you to be perfect, but all I ask is for you to be honest, loving, and kind.


It’s five in the afternoon now and you’re oversleeping, again. At eight months, you're quite big for your age—you seem to enjoy anything we give you to eat, which, I guess it's something you got from your tatay. I'm inches away from you, typing on my laptop, trying to finish tons of work. I know you need me beside you, our bond increasing a hundredfold as the days pass. And I wish I could tell the world how precious this time is, amidst everything.


                                                                                                                                       Love,

                                                                                                                                                 Nanay


This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”. The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Blog Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet and Teleperformance.







54 comments:

  1. Lovely letter! Reading this was a great breath fresh of air most especially this trying times. Makes me realize to be more grateful for all the blessings that we have right now. And also, such a cutie Akira!

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  2. This pandemic won't last forever. Just preserve your health, and this too shall pass. I miss you guys!

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    1. Yes! And we'll see each other right away after all of this :)

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  3. a motherly love...unconditional love shows how thoughtful you are

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  4. Perhaps one of the best effects of this pandemic is that families get more bonded with one another, and your wonderful little family is no exception. Surely, Akira, will grow up to be a beautiful person because he got you as his parents. May this letter always remind him that no matter what happens, he will always have you supporting and loving him. God bless you and your family! Keep safe! πŸ₯°

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  5. Akira is blessed to have you as his mom. I'm sure that he will grow up to be a fine man.

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  6. Hoping to play with u soon, akira!!! Godbless sangoyo fam we love u all.

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  7. You calling him "Anak" says it all.

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  8. Hoping to see you soon, akira! ΓΌ

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    1. Yes, KC! We will see each other after this :)

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  9. I feel you. These momma fears are real. May the Universe always guide and protect Akira and your beautiful family, Carla.

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  10. Awts! Miss the High Gardens. I hope this blog stays until Akira reads the letter.

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  11. This is so inspiring Carla. Akira is so lucky to have u and Christian as his parents. �������� Bebe Akira, see u the soonest.

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  12. see you soon, akira!! ����

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  13. A mother's best loving and touching story to her loving first born child, Akira. GOD bless you Akira and to your Nanay and Tatay.

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  14. Awwwww love you guys! Carla, Christian, and Akira boy!!! - uncle muj

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  15. I'm sure Akira will be proud calling you his nanay and tatay. <3

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  16. Super cute Akira! I hope this pandemic will be over soon so I can finally fly home. Akira, when the time comes for you to study World History in school, please consult us, your Titos and Titas, and we'll enthusiastically tell you our POV of what happened in year 2020.

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  17. Love the story.. tama we have the pandemic, but we have each other... Our family and friends . Sila yung ngpapawala ng stress mo! kundi saboh n utak mo.keepsafe everyone godbless n goodhealth to us

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  18. Blessing si Akira pati sa amin mam, napapasaya kami makita lang pics and vids nya. πŸ™‚ We will get through this pandemic. I’m sure proud si Akira pag nabasa nya to in the future.

    P.S. Ang cute ni Akira 😍

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  19. Ang tagal naming hinintay to see you become nanay rin!! Eto na nga❤️thank God ang haba ng oras mo na alagaan ang cute na batang hindi ko pa nakukurot ang pisngi!! Yaaaaaaakap higpit!! Soon maglalaro na tayo sa beach kasama si Akira

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    1. Yes! Siyempre dapat ang first beach niya sa Cabangan :)

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  20. Good to see that all are fine in this pandemic. Take care of the baby. LoL

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  21. sooo touching! Welcome to the world of Moms cuz carlots. Thank God for a healthy and cute nephew, akira, welcome to the Mendi Family anak :) <3

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  22. Sobrang ganda Carla! ����
    - Billy P.

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  23. Nakaka inspire naman ng letter mo Carla para kay Akira. It has the family values and discipline as well. God bless your family Carla.

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  24. This is such a beautiful read, Blissfulguro! It so touches the soul. Akira is so blessed to have such loving and responsible parents.
    I, unfortunately, wasn't able to meet Akira because of the lock down. After all these,I'm sure to meet him, and by then, Akira would be a big boy! Just please promise me that I'll be his dentist too (clue). God bless and keep you all safe. Much love...

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    1. Awww. Thank you po, Tita Nina. And yes, you will be his dentist po, for sure. Hihi. See you soon, tita and keep safe :)

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