Text and Photos by: R.b. Jane
It is a common scene to witness a hardworking father doing everything he could to provide for the family’s needs. But seeing a mother doing the same is more than a heart-melting feeling.
Knowing a story of a life who has been through not one but multiple struggles, hardly rowing the boat of life, left and right, to make it steady, to make her boat still floating, continuing, living.
Pastil, a ready to eat a meal with a cup of rice and a portion of sautéed meat wrap together in warmed banana leaves sold for P10.00 pesos each. This is what Nanay Nenita does for a living.
At 4’oclock in the afternoon, Nanay Nenita and the whole family and other hire helpers will start to prepare her stall. A little portion in Rizal Avenue’s street, the nightly food hub is open for business from 5 pm to past midnight. Her regular customers for the affordable dinner are the students and employees.
She also sells a variety of barbeque products, (it is a coal roast chicken portions on a stick) a very well know street food in the place. It will take hours to prepare everything. From market time to the whole day process to organize for all the necessaries.
Her small business is the main source of income, which covers daily expenses to monthly bills, not just for her family but also for her hired helpers.
Tale of 2019, 3 earthquakes shook the Islands of Mindanao, and the City of Digos experience the shock, the distraction, and the aftermaths of the quake. Nanay Nenita’s home suffered the wrath of nature, which disrupted her whole kitchen that lied in an open shack to her main house.
Six months after, in June of 2020, a flash flood happens, leaving many family homeless and needs to be immediately evacuated to the city gym.
On the dawn of the 29th, after the floodwater dispersed, the Sumaya’s residence was full of flood muds, and all their business utensils and equipment are nowhere to be found. Neither clean clothes nor any of her hardly purchased material things was kept safe. Everything was soaked in floodwater, and some are was washed away in the span of hours.
In tears, Nanay Nenita tries to make a move even if things are in chaos, not knowing where to start and what to do. She cannot ask for help from neighbors, knowing that they are also suffering from what the flood has done to their properties like them. Somehow, she starts to look around picking things that still can serve their purpose, gathering as many as she could after all her family needs her to provide something, even fresh clothes to be worn was a problem to be solved.
She asked for help from her sister, who gave her family a much-needed meal of the day, thankful for the solicited in kinds and helped them come back from those who know what her family experienced. She cried when one of her acquaintances lent her an old pot for cooking and kilos of rice.
“That rice serves my family a couple of meals.” She said.
Looking at her family, with children dress with what was lend to them, they received used clothes from different donors and felt so sad upon seeing what happen to them and how will she make it to rise again.
Struggling to be back to her normal business operation for months, trying to get and replace what was lost from the past, then pandemic arrived worsen the situation. When the government implemented business restrictions for the people’s safety, her business was once again forced to close and stop operating.
The multiple struggles darken everyone’s daily lives by the situation as it runs in months and nearly a year now.
How can a family provider still sway to the music of life following the guidelines yet while still needing to meet the daily increasing requirement of money and expenses?
Loan dues from different money lenders and agencies, online student school fees, monthly bills, and the never-ending money requirements.
Today, while the covid-19 restriction is still implemented to all businesses, she still has her stall, and business operation is still going on. It opens daily from 4 pm and closes at 8 pm, the maximum time for curfew.
They have to prepare and precooked everything before the stall open. The food industry is suffering mostly felt with small operations in the street, but nevertheless, she continues to fight; it is what she will do for her family, to provide.
Her ride, gently rowing the streams of life, not knowing what tomorrow would be like, is what defines life.
Perseverance, a mother’s heart.