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Family over career? No regrets

04:10 AM October 20, 2019

The Inquirer published a news report on  Oct. 3,  2019, citing the findings of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) that women aged 25 to 29 “now choose to build a family rather than their career.”

This finding of Neda validates the choice I made 65 years ago, when at the end of my foreign service studies at the University of the Philippines, I decided to “build a family rather than a career” in foreign service diplomacy.  I agreed to get married secretly to my boyfriend, whom I considered to be very serious in life and responsible in his work ethic.

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My change of status from a student to a married person necessitated, of course, a lot of changes in my life. I learned to apply all the lessons I learned in our limited training in home economics, and learned how to cook.

When my eldest son was born, I learned how to take care of babies first-hand; I breast-fed him, even when there was no law yet at the time dictating breastfeeding. I learned that mother’s milk is indeed the best food for infants up to two years. Applying my knowledge in health education, I became a nurse whenever my child had health problems. Multiply the above situation when the other children were born, and mothers like me became 24/7 working mothers.

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I developed the ability for time management and multitasking, now favorite catchwords for those in corporate career work. And as the children were growing up, I took another job as their mother and mentor when I started teaching them lessons on good manners and right conduct, which I first learned while in elementary grades and were bolstered by my teachers in high school, at Colegio de Santa Isabel in Naga City.

My husband and I have raised all our eight children (six  boys and two girls) under the guidance of God, coupled with strict discipline at home. And they have grown up to be responsible adults, caring for and helping one another and others.

They all witnessed how their father, lawyer Mafeo R. Vibal, worked so hard, taking multiple job assignments so that they could all finish college. Our efforts bore fruit, and they are now all professionals, teaching their own children hard-core lessons in life that are not found in schools.

Having witnessed how hard their parents worked, our children have learned to respond to the needs of our family. When our eldest son Victor got a job, he gave me his take-home pay to add to family expenses, retaining only a “commission” for his own use. The others followed Victor’s practice. Ching, the second eldest, also turned over part of his pay to me; Toti, who worked as a detail man before entering medicine, did the same; Marissa, who finished hotel and restaurant management at St. Scholastica’s College, gave her share of the “for the boys” tips from the five-star hotel she was working at; Jose Noel also pitched in; as did Val, from his pay at an airport brokerage firm. Peachy, our second girl, responded adequately when she put up her own PR outfit. Incidentally, her father was one of her professors in public relations at St. Paul’s College Manila. Marlo, the youngest, gives his share in dollars.

One of the most pleasant surprises I got as a mother was Victor’s turnover of a College Assurance Plan for our youngest son Marlo, who would finish his college course at the University of the Philippines Los Baños using the educational plan. Marlo is now a US citizen and a vice president at the Bank of America in Concord, California, in charge of the antimoney laundering section.

I read in an article that the hallmark description of a mother is that she is the epitome of TLC—tender loving care. I believe the TLC I showered on my children has reaped dividends, to borrow a corporate phrase for us parents who pursued family care instead of corporate careers.

To me, as a mother, the dividends from my family career are (1) familial love and respect;  (2) cooperation and concern; (3) contribution and solution to the needs of family elders. My children and I have agreed to ask my husband, now 86, to rest from his corporate and legislative work. The children backed up that suggestion by augmenting his pension with their contributions.

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Some of our children offered us a house and lot. Ching endorsed to us his house at Camella Springville, Marissa and husband Cesar a new house at Alta Tierra in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite, and Peachy and husband Rene a new house at Heritage Village, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

If the corporate world and the academe give awards and doctorate degrees for meritorious achievements, motherhood should also be given a commensurate award, because it is the “Mother of all Professions.” Still, award or no award, as a mother, I have no regrets that I chose family over career. After all, our grandchild Angeli has awarded my husband and I a cup each, captioned “The Greatest Lolo” and “The Greatest Lola.”

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Zeneida R. Vibal, is the mother of eight children, grandmother to 17 grandchildren and great-grandmother to three, the youngest of whom, Ann Patty, was born on Oct. 5, 2019. She and her husband belong to the Couples for Christ community.

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