Mother’s Day


A friend often talks about how the Satawal men navigate the open seas while the mothers are left behind to suckle the young. When not listing in the rough winds and typhoons, boats often are in warfare at a drop of a slight, or a tarnishing of honor. Either way, mothers are the symbols of life while the men’s seeding is best tested on the high seas odds.

American women took to vote almost a century ago, though suffragettes and feminists claimed their place in the social order long before the legal mandate to vote was passed in 1920.

However, the word “Mama” is universally uttered once a child learns to say, “mum mum” when the desire for milk strikes the abdomen. But women had not always received their due in social status. One of the enduring wonders of Malala Yousafzai’s longevity (she resisted the Taliban’s prescription against female education on the northern province of Pakistan for which she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel prize) is the fact that there are still many parts of the world whose patriarchy forbids woman liberal education. Women are trained in the rites and rituals of subservience to the male of the specie if trained at all.

Women’s month was observed in March and though the glass ceiling still prevails in many corporate offices relative to female advancement in roles as well as equity in pay, matriarchy’s deeply engrained in Micronesian society is no longer confined to breeding, but also to commensurate social responsibilities, income and status.

A female colleague on Saipan once kept her marital status “single” for the simply reason that she did not wish to have her family land tarnished by the CNMI legal requirement that once married, couples have joint conjugal properties. It is within the law that properties are joint when gained after the marriage began but she did not want to take any chances. She wanted her family’s real estate to carry her name, while common law arrangements made her conjugal relations legit.

But that is not why we bother with Mother’s Day, celebrated the second Sunday of May. This one is a modern celebration foisted on consumers to buy gifts and greeting cards, flowers and perfume, for one’s own mother, not unsimilar to Father’s Day when they get their tools, or their extra massage for the day, or to Sibling’s day, Granny’s, etc., all created compliments of the good folks at the Chamber of Commerce!

Of course, with the seeming naughtiness of the times (a rather mild description), where another colleague at a staff meeting on a heretofore controlled disease rearing its ugly head on island revealed that there are currently incidences of sample vials of perfumes sent through the postal service of poisonous substance masquerading as promotional product. Targeting Mother’s Day, a proliferation of the dangerous materials allegedly abounds. How sick can a mind be? Added without evidence (not surprisingly), is the quick attribution to a violent arm of Islam. Duh!

This last one would qualify for the brothers’ mother-effing word on the Westside of Chicago, surprisingly a part of our grade 1 students’ vocab, thanks to the popular rap music they hear elders and the radio. They probably do not say it too often, but one boy had the f-word on the front of his class’ workbook where I asked them to draw favored figures, finding some stay with the black-and-white style, and though erased on urging of a classmate, the telltale indentation remained visible.

Having lived in areas where the f-word was bantered up down sideward even in circles that considered it “chic” to be contemporary, the f-word does not have the sting our ears earlier had been trained to avoid.

Mothers added features. I watched the young child of a Pinas Mom alight out of a car from a visit to the park Sunday, and the lad not yet past Kindergarten was the last out of the back seat. He handed two electronic tablets to Mom, bounced empty-handed out of the car without any worries or responsibilities while Mom tagged along with the tablets, the child’s backpack spilling out with toys, a smartphone, plus bags of groceries she and her husband pick-up on the way home while he carried the sleeping 2-year-old in his arms.

I think I missed that part of childrearing. I played Mr. Mom on the outskirt of DC to a program officer for the Agency for International Development at the State Department in the ’90s. But that’s another tale for the telling. For now, it is mothering of the female specie.

Good feelings toward Mom is the intent of the day, hopefully, enticing all to buy at slightly adjusted prices and deliberately enlarged sizes, the bouquet of roses with the matching box of chocolate nicely on display. Restaurant’s seats are at a premium on Mom’s Day.

My Mom at 95 years spends her remaining days at a hospice in Honolulu. Nursing a broken hipbone, she slumbers her days when my daughter goes calling. Mom really does not care to dine out anymore, but to me, Sunday will always be hers. To the Moms!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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