A mother’s letter

By Angela Librado-Trinidad

Editor’s Note: Atty. Angela Librado is the Philippines’ Labor Attache to the United States and is based in Washington. She is a former three-term City Councilor in Davao City and mother to Iza, Enzo, Ina and Kico. 

Dear Iza, Enzo, Ina and Kico,

I thank you for your greetings today and I am flattered that you called me the Best Mom in the Universe. For years I can humbly say that I have tried my best to showcase that brand of mom quite different from the rest. That I can work and discuss during our world history homeschooling session the analogy and irony between “polo” or forced labor during the Spanish colonization and POLO’s (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) role in protecting workers overseas, bake and conduct teleconference meetings, simultaneously, prepare all your favorites or desserts in one sitting, or multi-task generally, is not  what I am referring to.While I am pleased with  how I can whip up a healthy meal in an hour , trained you how to clean up your bed , pack away your toys and fold your clothes habitually or make you sit to read and read until it completely relaxes you,  these are things most, if not all of us, mothers do. We multi-task because we can.

Historically, that has been our strength, us, women, including mothers.But I take you to each significant moment that I had with and because of each one of you.

Iza,        

When I was pregnant with you, I walked hours and spoke hard about my proposed legislations, including that which caused the creation of the Integrated Gender and Development Office (IGD0) in Davao City meant to ensure that the rights and lives of women including mothers, are upheld and protected.Enzo,         You came at a time that my office led the crafting of a law that assures the urban poor communities in Davao City that they would be relocated in communities with basic facilities. The policy the Davao City Council successfully pushed  for was “no demolition if there is no relocation”  But did you know that a month before your birth, we had to move out of our Tahimik house because armed men came looking for me after  I consistently called for an investigation of reported human rights abuses by private armed groups, then?

Ina,       

I was 7 months pregnant when my own church accused me of promoting abortion. Ironic, indeed but real.  I mean, the threat to ex-communicate me was as tangible when church officials flocked the city council to  stop me and my colleagues from enacting the Women’s Health Clinic and the Local Development Plan for our Children (LDPC). Both would provide our people, including children, more access to health reproductive services, including information. Fortunately, both became law.Kico, 

I was breastfeeding you when I was elected Barangay Captain. I was criticized for failing to mount curtains in my office . A few media personalities probably found it in bad taste that i was nursing while meeting with barangay residents but it was all “in the exigency of service”. People must not be made to wait but you should not starve, too. So, I double-tasked.All the strengths I mustered with and because of you. These are not the only reasons why I am writing you, today. Those things are immediately verifiable.During the last few weeks, we have painstakingly talked about scientific inquiry and its steps and repeatedly discussed how this procedure is widely relevant in our every day lives. We pose questions, formulate theories/ hypotheses, we try to answer them but not without evidence or proof, validate and so on and so forth.

I now write with the hope that my reliance on scientific inquiry and investigation in everything that we do is what characterizes my parenting style. By now you realize how we should attack with equal care and attention world history and Spanish colonization and the mongos we planted on cotton and soil, some of these we placed under direct sunlight.It is challenging I know but let me illustrate it further by answering the question you asked “why did you sign up for this?” when we first arrived here in January 2018. My quick reply was “because it is the government’s job to protect its citizens”. The answer was proper but largely hypothetical.Thus, in the last two years, with the help of all my colleagues, we have worked judiciously to substantiate my hypothesis that our migrant Filipinos still need government protection because they are suffering from different forms of abuse. And guided by the principles of scientific investigation, I offer you quantitative and qualitative evidences:

1. Through interviews and meetings, we have confirmed that a significant number of our work permit holders in the Caribbean are victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking. Additional proof are the cases filed and warrants of arrest issued against these recruiters.

2. A large number of these workers were via third country recruitment, which means that they previously worked/deployed in other countries and where recruited there. Additional proof is the record of such individuals in our government, POEA intra.

3. We also have J1 participants, who complained of abuses committed by local agencies in the Philippines and third parties  charging them as much as $12500 dollars or more or illegally exacting fees while in the United States,  which is far beyond the charges and fees indicated in the official government websites. Our proof can be found not only in the complaints filed by our j1 participants but in some investigations held in the last years. Let me add that because of these concerns both the US and Philippine governments have been working together since 2019 to address them. Additional evidences are in the official websites of both governments.My dears, there are one hundred and more evidences, but my point basically is to be scientific, at all times. Back your arguments and statements with facts. Formulate your answers solely on the bases that are certifiable using your five senses.In as much as you have seen much of my videos in public search engines either in a press conference, talking or doing lectures, making speeches, you will soon be reading about how I was recently accused of being idiotic, or lately being a communist labor attaché. I forbid you to make hasty generalizations, baseless accusations or engage in the same form of mudslinging.  They are not only careless, they are weak.

Your Lolo Nonoy once told me, “people resort to name calling when they are losing an argument”. But let me also tell you this, “you win an argument when you make the other believe that he can just wing it”I end this with a prayer that we continue to learn with and from each other and that we use this knowledge in empowering ourselves and the communities we live in.