A calloused hand cupped my face and the other hand struggled to keep hold of a 12-kilo trolley bag in the middle of the chaos that is known as Mongkok. A kiss was planted on my right cheek and instantly, I smelled home some 1,132 kilometers away from a house occasionally devoid of a profound light. As suspected, the trolley was for me, my siblings, and my niece, and was filled with odds and ends: coffee sachets and two cans of chocolate mix, a perfume and a tank top, a doll and a pail – don’t ask, assorted paper and plastic bags from fancy and cheap stores, and two Ziploc bags full of Lego. It was more than enough to bring back to the Philippines.
When I was a child, my mother used to cook at our family restaurant hidden from the main street of our village. My father had modest earnings from his private architecture and drafting practice and was working independently. Both businesses were doing well, but when my sister and I started big school and my brother followed soon after, the money just wasn’t enough.
I cannot even remember when my mother went to Hong Kong to work. Yes, we were that young. But over the years, our small space was converted to a three-bedroom house. After my father died, we finished school and somehow, despite our mournful loss, found our physical needs fulfilled. Even after several instances of my mother quitting her job overseas, she always goes back to Hong Kong out of, let’s just say, old people’s need to constantly have something to do. As proven anywhere in the world, no one argues with their mothers and win. It would be my greatest feat if I ever convince her to come home and live the comfortable life she deserves out of all her hard years of work; although, I am resolved to wait a few more years.
Sunday Morning in Mong kok
It is through her calloused hands that I learned the value of noble work, that no work is too small nor too big, if only for the sake of one’s family. And that no matter how little one may have, help can always be given to those who are in dire need. My mother taught me to be steadfast, that even if there are people pulling you down, we must always trust the goodness of others and our own capacity to be genuinely good so we may heal without retaliation. And love, I am lucky to learn from her the meaning of pure and unconditional love that only mothers know how to give.
For a mother who works as an OFW, she did a very good job of teaching her children of flight and pursuit and how distance can bring closeness, after all.
Early Morning in Mongkok
A few cups of tea and several hours after meeting, it was time for me to go. The same hands that cupped my face are now behind me, pushing me closer to the embodiment of home. And for that brief moment, I was home and I could not ask for more.
Monette and her Mom
Going back to the Philippines after a few hours of precious time was the hardest part of my recent trip to Hong Kong. It wasn’t because I was not able to shop and go on food trips, nor was it because I still have not seen Victoria Peak even after so many times of going to this country. It is because this trip will be the last time I will see my mother in the next couple of years, if not for a long while. I will embark on a journey, much farther than I’ve ever been from her. Perhaps, one day, I will embark on a journey my mother also did 31 years ago, although I don’t think I’d ever perform as better as she does. As I wait for this, I’m sure the coffee sachets and two cans of chocolate mix will last me for a while.
Monette’s Mom on the left and her Aunt
I wish to thank AirAsia and Out of Town Blog for bringing me to Hong Kong on their maiden flight and reuniting me with my mother for this year’s Mother’s Day celebration. The crew may have given the mothers on board the flight a rose to honor their selflessness; and despite me being not one, received the most precious gift of all, a few hours spent with my mom.
AirAsia Manila – Hong Kong Flights
AirAsia now flies from Manila to Hong Kong and vice versa every Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. Promo fares to domestic and international destinations from as low as 99PHP (base fare only) are now available at www.airasia.com for guests traveling from June 15 to September 30, 2015.