Thursday, October 8, 2009

Filipino Single Mothers: The Pillar and Light of the Filipino Home

The Filipino family allegory sees the father as the pillar of the home while the mother is the light. The children bring joy to the family.

However, thanks to the western influence of divorce, the foundation of the Filipino concept of family has also crumbled.

Kathy an unwed mother has gone through a lot of tough times trying to raise her son all by herself. She did all sorts of odd jobs until she got work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong and later in Bahrain. Torn by the need to earn money for her son's needs she realized that her growing son also needs her personal touch more than ever. She was blessed to have been accepted to a teaching job decent enough for her to send her son to the same private school and for her to earn the respect of her peers.

The father of her son? He was her first and only love being neighbors of the same community. But he never acknowledged his son who looks much more like his father than his mother. The father may never have thought that his life would soon be over by cardiac arrest while waiting for their police patrol to arrive.

Sad to say, the son never got the much needed financial and moral support from his father and Kathy continues to struggle all the more economically to support her son singlehandedly as she always had.

Kathy's story is becoming more and more common as the number of single mothers continue to rise.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that single-parent statistics show that 84% are mothers and 16% are fathers. These figures alone make me wonder, where did all the male counterpart of these 84% mothers go? Where did the 16% counterpart of these 16% fathers go? Why are there a great number of men contributing to their partners' being single mothers?

The same study concludes that almost half of these single mothers are either divorced or separated (44%), and the rest are single (33%), remarried (22%), or widowed (1%). Which brings me to the thought that a large number of men causing women to be single mothers are alive and out there, leaving the moms to take care of their children alone. On the other hand, widowers are only 1% of the number of single dads.

Which means, the single mother has to have a career or some sort of employment to support her child. In fact, 79% of these women are working mothers.

While most single moms are young, 37.7% of these are 40 years old or older, and usually have only one child unless she has remarried and had children by another union, and all her children usually live with her.

In the Philippines, many single mothers are not yet aware or have not yet realized the full benefit afforded them of RA8972 or the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000.

Sad but true, if the same U.S. statistics more or less represents the same picture of the modern-day Filipino family, it only means that the role of the Filipino father, held as the pillar of the Filipino home, is now also singlehandedly carried by the mother. The Filipino single mom is now both the pillar and the light.

Thus Filipino single mothers, having become the Pillar and the Light of the Filipino Home by force of circumstance, and because of her characteristic Pinoy resilience in the face of challenges such as single parenthood, she has evolved into a new symbol -- the lamp post. Both a pillar and light to her children, her family.

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