“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – President John Quincy Adams.
This Mother’s Day, we would like to recognize the woman who inspired us to be where we are today. Our Mother, our “Shero”. She is the light behind Buri and Beach. The image of her carrying straw bags when we were vacationing in the islands influenced the products we carry. Her elegance and relaxed attitude is the vibe we want to exude. However, it goes beyond that image. Through her support, persistence, encouragement and values, the backbone and mission of Buri and Beach were born. Her love and belief in her children are what continue to be our batteries. Our mom, who carries herself quietly with class, is a ball of fire and positive energy that ignites the light behind anyone’s dreams. Her friends know her as Bobbie; and her grandchildren call her Lola.
Bobbie is the youngest of four children and grew up in a family with a strong support system. Her parents were both educators in the Philippines. She grew up not knowing her father because he left right before her birth. Our grandmother worked hard to send her children to the best schools that suited each of them. They were well-rounded in academics, sports and music. Bobbie started school at the tender age of 4, skipped a couple of grades, and moved away at 10 years old to attend U.P. High School. She stayed with one of her aunts, while her mother continued to teach in their hometown. Finishing high school at 14, she went on to major in Speech and Drama in the University of Philippines, Manila, where she was an honor student and a member of the Theater Club. During her college years, she worked at a government broadcasting service with a worldwide audience, where she was a radio announcer from 4 o’clock to midnight. She spent her extra time volunteering to teach faith formation to children in disadvantaged areas. Her habits of going to early daily masses and volunteering her time to help others were cultivated from the time she was just a child. Her music performances and stage presence started at a very young age and continues to be a large part of who she is today.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
At 18 years of age, our mom married our dad, Ric, an engineer from The University of San Augustine. Together they had three children (Ray, Cookie and Ricky) by the time she was 23. While the nannies helped tend to us, she was helping our father write, edit and publish his book, which was used as a text reference at his alma mater. Wanting more for her family, she encouraged our dad to take this book on an interview with an American Oil and Gas Company that was visiting their city. A few months later, our dad was on a plane to Texas to work for Dresser Industries. After months of getting our paperwork done, our mom boarded a plane with the three of us in tow, to join our dad and start our new lives without extended family. Our memories of the Philippine Islands, from then on, came from captured moments of vacation visits during the summers. Though Texas was our home base, we had the opportunity to live in Singapore due to our dad’s work assignments. Vacationing in different countries in Europe and Asia started our love for traveling, textiles, food and unique qualities of different cultures.
Since our dad’s job required him to travel to different continents, our mom played a double role for many years. Not once did we ever hear her grumbling about her shuffling us to ball fields, ice rinks, gymnastic practice, cheer practice, dance studios, and tennis courts. We could always spot her at EVERY school program, talent show, choir concert, spelling bee competition, award ceremony, gymnastic meet, dance performance, tennis tournament, football game, baseball game. Volunteering her time at church and our schools, she set a standard of excellence for us to follow. She was that perfect mother, who made every day, every occasion special.
Encouraging us to dream big and to reach our goals, she established in us a mindset of discipline and strong work ethic. Her actions showed us that persistence during the toughest times gives strength. It’s still amazing to us how she made so many things happen for us.
In our college years, our mom finally went to work full time at a hospital to help pay for all three of our tuition and cars. She gave piano lessons on the side. We were unaware at that time that she and my dad weren’t just supporting us. They were also sending money to our relatives to help with medical bills and tuition; all the while, supporting a few seminarians with their expenses. They put their own material wants aside so they could uplift others. By the time we were in our twenties, our parents were assigned to another country for another job promotion.
In 1992, our parents moved across the world. Ray had just started his computer business in Houston. I was a newly-wed and running a wedding planning and calligraphy business. Rick was busy with college. Our parents were living a life of adventure that only pictures can describe. It took some time for them to adjust to this new culture that seemed so backward, yet full of interesting escapades. In the midst of dangerous exploits, they found comfort and peace by volunteering with the nuns of Mother Theresa. They lived on faith as they encountered events most of us only read about. One of the interesting stories was about a trip on the mountain, where Mom was sitting between the nuns and priest. Their car fell 20 feet off the side of the mountain. Other than being deafened by their screams, they and the car survived with only one flat tire. “Faith”, she says, “carries you through the scariest times”.
Our mom was also a member of the International Women’s Association and American Women’s Association, in which the expats raised funds to help underprivileged women. She thrives on the joy of giving, and always believes that what you give out, comes back around.
Upon the arrival of my first son in 1994, Mom headed back to the States to help me. She gained her title of Lola (the Filipino word for grandmother). Thirteen months later, my second son came along, and this time, Mom knew it was time to move back. When my third son was born in 1998, Mom was helping watch the boys while I worked at my wedding boutique thirty minutes away. My days started before the boys woke up and I came home after they were tucked in bed. Knowing that I was missing out on many moments with the babies, Mom would take the boys to the boutique every day to see me. She then presented an option that would change the course of my career. She said “you can continue to work overtime and regret the time you lost with your babies; or you can give up your boutique for now, stay home with them, and be involved with their activities. Build your skills, continue to learn… You can always go back to work one day. But it’s harder to live knowing that you gave up time with your kids that you can never get back”.
PRIORITY AND PERSISTENCE
It was at that moment that I realized just how much this strong woman gave up to raise her own family. Our mother has always been a go-getter, a do-er, a solution seeker, and knows how to connect. No doubt she could have been anything she wanted to be. But she CHOSE to be a mother. Not just any mother, but one who never failed to be there, and one who continues to live by example. One of the hardest things she ever had to face was raising us during our teen years, with our dad being out of the country the majority of the time, and with no family around. Yet, she never gave up on us; she never stopped praying, and she never stopped believing.
Our mom just turned 72 on May 8th. What we once considered her trying to “control” us, we now know was guidance and persistence. Thank goodness, she persisted…no telling how we would have ended up if she hadn’t. Persistence is one of her greatest assets. She once told us that she would meet her role model, Pope John Paul II, in person. Her persistence in contacting the Vatican led her to two private audiences with him. After his death, she wanted to meet Pope Benedict. Out of the blue, she received a phone call from a girl in Dallas, who wanted to be baptized in the Vatican. Someone from the Vatican gave her Mom’s number. Two years of teaching faith formation long distance to this girl, having met her only once after that phone call, led to another trip to the Vatican where she was able to meet that Pope. Just another example of how persistence can get you what you want.
Mom now has seven grandsons (my six sons and nephew), and continues to be an active part of our lives. When she is not volunteering at the church, she and Dad find a way to make it to all their activities. Her days start with God, by going to daily masses and serving in different ministries inside and outside of our church parish. Her love for living intentionally and her zeal for life is contagious.
Mom taught us love by showing love. Her actions have encouraged us to be generous with our gifts, talents and time. Giving continues to be her passion, and she is always aware and grateful for every little blessing that sprinkles her days. She has given us values, taught us integrity, showed us perseverance, and helped us to build our character.
What our mother has shown is that women, or anyone really, can be an empowering source at any age and any stage of their lives. Seeing how she has lived her life, I have concluded that success is not measured by title and salary. It is measured by how many people we have impacted in a positive way. We love that she continues to help, inspire and empower us and many others without hesitation. But what we love the most is that she continues to bring us comfort no matter hold old we are. As Rick put it, “There is nothing more comforting than knowing that a mother’s love is forever”.