Proper Dues

By Ruth M. Floresca


“It’s your government-given right!” I’d always point out every time one of my sons tells me a tricycle or jeepney driver hadn’t given him the correct change.

It irritates me that we have a law indicating that students are entitled to a 20% discount on public transportation fares and yet there are still drivers who choose to ignore this directive. I am all for paying the right amount for fares and services. I even return money to drivers and bus conductors every time I receive extra change. But I am not in favor of having my kids pay more than what they are supposed to.

Three of my boys take public transport when they go to school. I really dislike it when drivers insist that students don’t get fare discounts when there are no classes. Even though I still don’t get why not (since their status as students doesn’t change just because it’s Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday), I pay full fare for my boys when we ride PUVs on those times and during summer vacations just  to avert unreasonable arguments.

But now that classes have resumed, I remind my boys to insist on their rights. “Imagine poor kids who can’t afford to pay regular fares. If you let drivers think it’s OK with you if they don’t give you the correct change, you are doing a disservice to many other kids, especially those whose parents can’t afford to pay extra.”

I also tell them to compute how much they’ll be able to save in just a week, in a month, and in a year if they pay the discounted amount every day. That got them thinking, particularly my firstborn who’s already in college and is more conscious nowadays when it comes to budgeting his allowance.

To avoid hassles as much as possible, hubby and I save the coins we get as change whenever we go out. This way, we can give our kids the exact fares they should hand over to drivers so they won’t have to insist getting the right change every time they pay.

I believe that what I’m doing is one way to teach financial responsibility. Alas, honesty should go both ways. Still, it’s always better to stay upright on our end even if there are others who refuse to do so. While they are young, I want my kids to always remember that.


Not a Lot of Second Chances

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


It was humid last night and my skin felt sticky. Hubby opted to spread a mattress on the living room floor to escape the heat from our bedroom. As I remained in bed to keep an eye on our child with special needs, who was watching TV, my youngest son jumped on the bed and snuggled against me.

“It’s hot anak, we’re both going to sweat more if you hug me like that,” I admonished.

My 12-year-old, the one who’s the smartest aleck of all my sons, didn’t let go. Instead, he softly replied, “You know Mom, when I’m all grown up and working in a faraway place, you won’t get as many chances to have me by your side. By then, we’ll just get to talk and see each other on Skype.” So much for guilt trips; I was the one who got hit, hard.

“Fine,” I said grudgingly, suppressing a smile. When I tried to move a little and get more comfortable, my not-so-little boy tightened his hold and whispered in a singsong voice, “Chance.”

As we watched TV, I said a silent prayer of thanks for having such a sweet boy who has this ability to utter retorts that sound way beyond his years.

Five minutes or so later, my son got up. I guess he also realized he can’t stand the heat. “What about the chance?!” I protested.  He smiled his mischievous smile and said, “It will come again tomorrow night.”

Every day, I am constantly amazed at what my kids are capable of, in a good way. I just hope that I remain observant of those precious moments especially the ones that pass by only once.  Happily, I got one of those chances last night.


Ladies First

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

For the past couple of days, I have encountered several ungentlemanly men who seem to have no regard whatsoever for women. For instance, I rode a service van provided for event attendees by a very considerate PR company. After most of the passengers have gotten off, the last guy left forcefully “suggested” to the driver to drop him off at his office first despite the place being farther than my destination.

When he got out, he immediately walked away and left the van door open for me to close. I had to laugh when the driver said, “Buti sana kung gwapo, pwede pa sigurong maging bastos. Kaso, hindi!” It may be a little thing to some, not worthy of attention, but the action spoke volumes about the guy’s character. And I haven’t even told you the other things he did that irritated other passengers earlier.

Then there’s the waiter who kept serving food and drinks first to my male friend who’s seated beside me at a media event. There we were, two women at the table, and we had to wait for five minutes or more before the waiter came back to serve us.

It’s also sad to see women giving up their seats on a bus so that a pregnant lady, a mom with a small child, someone with a disability, or a really old person could sit while dozens of uncaring men stay put, pretending not to notice.

On the other hand, the past two days also found me in the company of considerate guys who opened doors for me, assisted me in getting on and off a boat, and insisted I get in line first at the buffet table. Those are the kind of men I want my sons to be like when they grow up! The kind of man their dad is to women he interacts with every day.

I hope that the good examples they see and the frequent reminders they’re given on practicing gentlemanly ways all the time will stick in my boys’ heads. I pray that those would help mold them into men whom women would be proud to know.

Chivalry is not yet dead. There are still a handful of boys and men who know how to pay respect to women. I just wish there are more of them.

Mommy Sorority

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


It’s weird (in a good way) how a lot of women, who have met for the first time, could easily click and bond with one another when they find out they’re all moms. Having children, after all, can immediately spawn dozens of stories in a heartbeat. This is more true when moms of kids with special needs meet. I have found so many kindred souls online who know exactly what I have gone, or are going, through with my son who has cerebral palsy. There are dozens of them I have yet to meet face-to-face but I feel this strong connection every time we exchange e-mails or comment on each other’s Facebook statuses. I always know they “get” me the same way I “get” them.

A forwarded e-mail in one of the e-groups I belong to affirmed that we are members of a very elite sorority. “Some of us were invited to join immediately, some not for months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse membership, but to no avail,” wrote the anonymous author.

All of us have one thing in common – we are mothers of children with special needs. And regardless of how different those needs are, we have mutual respect and empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes. I found myself smiling when I read, “We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with whatever materials we could find. We know ‘the’ specialists in the field, ‘the’ neurologists, ‘the’ hospitals, ‘the’ wonder drugs, ‘the’ treatments. Without formal education, we could become board certified in neurology, endocrinology, and physiatry.” Indeed, I was once mistaken for a nurse after fluently explaining my son’s condition to a new doctor.

Since our journey began, we’ve greeted each morning wondering how we’d make it through another day and rest each night not sure, but marveling, how we were able to do it.

As moms of special needs’ kids, we have learned to deal with anything life throws at us because we’ll never stop believing in miracles, that the potentials of our children know no bounds and that, with faith, we will always be given the strength to survive one day at a time.



Constant Change

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


“Clouds that move across the skies are changing form before our very eyes…Have we outgrown our Peter Pans and wings? We’ve simply grown too old for tales of knights and kings. Cause life’s a constant change and nothing stays the same …”

I have always loved Jose Mari Chan’s compositions – they’re so poetic, very meaningful, and have wonderful melodies. My roommate in college had Chan’s albums and I would often borrow them to listen and unwind to. Up to now, thanks to his soothing voice and beautiful music, I feel peaceful every time I hear his songs. The poet in me appreciates the way he had strung words together to come up with thought-provoking lines.

Often I would find myself mulling over the lyrics of “Constant Change.” There is so much truth behind those words. More and more, I see grownups no longer having time to enjoy the simple things in life; adults who wouldn’t dare have fun walking under the rain without an umbrella or people over their 20’s who would never let themselves be caught sitting on a park swing flying with such joyous abandon. Nowadays, most grownups seem content to lead their busy lives, acting on what they think of as adult behavior and missing out on a lot!

I’ve found out that having kids is one great way to relive one’s childhood. In fact, I know people who became more laidback and “cool” when they got to be parents. As the song says, we shouldn’t let go of the capacity to have fun in childlike ways. In my case, enjoyment of life didn’t diminish but was amplified when my four sons entered the world.

To date, I can proudly say I know around 50 or so Barney songs. I can recite the titles of shows (and even sing their theme songs!) in most of the cable kiddie channels. Quiz me about Spongebob and High School Musical and I’d probably answer everything correctly. And yes, I tap my toes too when my teenagers listen to songs by Boys Like Girls or Hale, and whenever they watch Glee. I can even beat them on some computer games!

A friend of mine and her husband take time during weekends to play games like patintero with their three children. From what I see, they are a family whose bonding got better and better because the kids know that their parents understand them and are willing to go down to kid-level to show their love.

Sure, we do change. Everyone changes. But wouldn’t we be happier to go changing for the better without losing sight of the things we enjoyed when we were children? Lick an ice cream cone, turn cartwheels, or giggle like a preschooler. Bring out that child inside of you right now. No matter your age, you will never be too old not to be able to! In return, I’ll bet you’ll get to smile more often. I do.


Soul Nurture

By Ruth M. Floresca


We live in modern times. Despite being labeled as a third world country, the Philippines cannot be said to be behind other countries in terms of technology and lots of other things. In fact, if we look around, there are so many indications that we are not as backward as people of other nations might think.

Unfortunately, as we continue to travel the path towards modernization and, if I may add, sought-after sophistication, many Filipinos barely notice how much we are going farther away from things that should matter. I’m talking about culture, particularly, Filipino values.

It saddens me these days to see and hear young people scarcely showing respect to others, especially their elders. I grew up in the province and was thoroughly instilled with the importance of family ties, saying “po” and “opo,” and speaking in deferential tones when conversing with older people.

My husband and I are doing our best to raise our kids the same way. Thankfully, most of the things we keep teaching them seem to be sticking. If they sometimes forget, they get reprimanded and reminded. Truthfully, if there was one thing I would hate hearing about my kids is that they were not raised to practice good manners. On the other hand, I’d usually get surprised and mildly offended whenever some of their friends or classmates address me like a peer with matching authoritative tones to boot. I have to admit that there were times I imagined washing their mouths with soap if I could.

I understand that there are parents who believe in equality and mutual respect. Well, when I got married and had kids of my own, I saw my relationship with my parents veer in that direction. But I don’t think that kind of association can be, nor should be, applied yet to parents and very young children.

Many foreign and local TV shows, music, and movies don’t help. Young people nowadays are bombarded left and right with role models who are not very good examples to begin with. Which is why we parents should doubly focus on correctly teaching our kids who and what to believe in.

We Filipinos are known for our hospitable nature. But I hope that we can also become known as a people who are raising children who don’t talk insolently to adults as if they have every right to do so; children who’d rather be with their families instead of bonding with their friends majority of the time; and children whom other parents would speak well of for being raised properly.

In her book “Anything We Love Can Be Saved,” author Alice Walker writes about soul nurture as “that infusion of spiritual carrots and spinach that one’s own culture can give, and that the dominant culture under which we live cannot.”

To those of us who proudly say we are Filipinos, whether we still reside in the Philippines or have chosen to live in another land; whatever outside influences have come into this country and into our lives; however Americanized (or Europeanized, etc.) many of us have become; and whether we allow these factors to seep into every facet of our being or not; I  hope we can all continue to strive to keep intact what good Filipino values we intrinsically have and treasure them because they are, to begin with, part of who we are.