My mother is modest. She was never attentive to designer labels or overseas travels. Not luxury cars or big houses with walk-in closets and large kitchens. She has always been self-assured and has always known what she wanted. And the things she wanted were simple.
The third among four siblings, my grandparents raised them in a modest household, where giving is a mandate and food is always shared. I have never seen my mother — or any of my uncles and aunt rather — want more than what they can afford. What they have always taken pride in was the fact that their family was raised by parents, who never even made it past grade school, that worked hard for them to finish college.
My grandfather passed away some years ago, but my grandmother just turned 90 this year.
My mother grew up in a household where cousins and second cousins stay and go for free. They have shared clothing, housing, food, basically everything, without expecting anything in return. They are the model family of selflessness; they are the change they wished to be in the world. They have worked hard in making sure that we, their children, become as giving as they are. We hope to never disappoint them in that respect.
So when we realized our mother is turning 60 this year, we only thought of one thing to give her: an iPad. She looooves the iPhone I handed down to her when I upgraded to the iPhone 5. She uses it religiously, playing Candy Crush to relax after a long day at work, streams iWantTv whenever she misses her soaps. She doesn’t really use it for the purposes it was originally intended to be — managing contacts, businesses, emails etc. — but it’s her source of entertainment. And it’s such a small screen.
The iPad is the perfect gift for her. Because she will never get one for herself. Because she will just keep saying she doesn’t need it. That it’s too expensive for her. That there’s no need for it really.
But there is a need. We need to make her happy. We need that validation that, in spite of the emotional roller coaster of the past year, we can make her so damn giddy still. That we can get her something she finds expensive. That we can take care of her whims as she grows older. That she can have whims now as we are here to get it for her.
AND IT WILL BE A CHALLENGE TO SURPRISE HER BECAUSE SHE IS A DETECTIVE TO THE BONE. My brothers and I worked extra hard to keep the gift under wraps because the woman that is my mother — or rather ALL mothers — have this uncanny manner of finding out everything effortlessly.
My mother loves Japanese food so we took her to Mangetsu in Jupiter Street, Makati for dinner on her birthday last May 15. She was completely unsuspecting.
I love the food here, and I’m happy that my brothers trusted my taste. I ordered for everyone on the table. Prepare to drool.
My brother couldn’t wait anymore. He was too excited.
So I handed over the gift box that she opened ever so slowly. Ted captured it all on video: Nanay and her iPad.
I have never seen her smile so big in her life. Moreover, WE MANAGED TO SURPRISE OUR MOTHER. That is the true accomplishment for the night.
We filled the iPad with her favorite apps: Facebook, Candy Crush, iWantTV. Now, she wants Clumsy Ninja installed also. We even arranged it in order of priority. Hahaha. We set up her Apple ID and put Facetime right on the first page so she can call our relatives in New Jersey whenever she wanted.
And of course, every single photo of our father that we can scour.
I think to date, she’s still in awe that we gave her something like that. I mean, for some people, you’d think that a gift like this is easy peasy, but not for my modest mother. She wouldn’t even think of getting one for herself. It’s too much for too little a function for her.
But then, we all know mothers more than know better. They deserve the best.
Happy birthday, Nanay. You do not look a day over 40.