It is quite easy to see the contributions a public school teacher, a social worker or a government physician does for the country. It is not quite so with an ordinary work-at-home mom and homemaker like me. I go about quietly in my little nook of family responsibilities, at times oblivious and indifferent even, to the goings-on in my country.
But oh, I do teach my children to study hard, work hard and obey forms of authority. I tell them to occupy themselves with the tasks at hand. I am pretty sure this will leave them little time to gripe and rant. I had this aunt once who so buried herself in so many little tasks around our house that when she left, we realized she had done so much and so many – a bedsheet here and a placemat there, a rug and some planters there and sparkling clean everywhere. She worked so quietly her accomplishments were the only things that were loud.
I maintain a flower garden and a vegetable patch. Plants are my complementary lungs. They absorb noxious gases so we won’t get sick very often. Plus they perk up my mood. And give me avenues for exercise. And of course, lots of foods and herbs. An agricultural scientist told me it takes only 25 square meters of land to supply food for a family of 5. I’m not quite bothered about the slowness of the land reform program. I have more okra and eggplants and bok choy and moringa and basil and 15 other vegetables than I can find time to cook. Why, I’m even giving away vegetables to neighbors. All these food from only a 1×5-meter patch of land in our rented area.
I get along with my husband and kids, even with my tween. We do not own a house yet. Our car just broke down. We make do with whatever we have. We lead lives that are so simple we do not owe a soul a thing. Sure, we sometimes wish the government has a rent-to-own housing program but we leave it at that and just move on.
We put a premium on learning. All of our three kids learned how to read before they turned 4 – at home, with nothing but china-made alphabet posters and stuff as implements. My pastor-husband literally prayed down from heaven a laptop and tablet for our kids and scrimped money just so we could buy them books every so often from Booksale. Part of my motivation in working as a freelance copywriter is so I could keep the internet going for my kids. Well-monitored cyber learning is amazing for kids’ education. Plus I get to learn lots of DIY and urban farming tips.
When I was in college, a couple of student activists tried to recruit me into their ranks. I turned them down politely. I am helping my country, thank you. We do not need a change of government — only a change of individual hearts. Even the leftists are contending with corruption within their ranks. Jesus and the disciples lived in an era when Israel was occupied by Rome. They did not rebel but went about doing good and even finished the Bible.
An important aspect of our ministry is teaching kids in the slums during Saturdays. Mothers who are busy – with either work or mahjong — would love the idea of their kids being taught for free for about 2 hours. In one such class that I was teaching, I asked, as a way of introducing the life of Joseph, how many of them have gone to see a prison. Almost all of them raised their hands. And in characteristic innocent child-speak, they said they regularly visit their dads or brothers or uncles and even mothers in the jail. I told the life story of Joseph rather emotionally that day. When I asked them during the closing prayer if they would like to be kept out of prison, all of them raised their hands.
This is really just my long-winded way of saying that the one thing I can give to my country is my quiet but no less earnest commitment to be a good citizen. With what I have and who I am, right where I am and right every moment, I would like to think I’m giving my country a gift everyday.
Disclosure: This post serves as my entry to the #GLOBEProjectWonderful2014. Should I win, I would get an iPad air to further my family’s cyber learning. And if you, my dear readers, would answer this question in the comment below, you’ll get the chance to win an iPad mini2 courtesy of Globe.
So do take time to answer this question: “If there is one thing you can give to the Philippines, what is that gift?” Answer in the comment section below and you’ll have one entry to the contest and a chance to get an iPad mini2.