The kids’ Nanay Era is Miraflor Quimco, 41, who works in Batang Pinangga since May 2005 as house mother for the boys. She shares that being a mother to her own four children is hard but taking care of more than a dozen of neglected and abused children living in Batang Pinangga (BP) is even harder. As she is seeing it, the children in BP are not used to structures and routine.
“Wala man gud sila maanad anang magtoothbrush gyud inig human og kaon unya ma tug sad inig ka hapon (They were not used to brush their teeth every after meal and to taking a nap in the afternoon).” Nanay Era handles the situation by constantly advising the kids on what to do especially to the newcomers.
She said that caring for the children means a lot to them since they have not experienced how it is like to be nurtured in a home. She added that generally, they are loving and kind just like any other child but when tantrums strike, her patience is always tested. At times when she feels bad, she does not show it to the children and instead she hides in the bathroom to cry. When she came out, the children still knew she was crying, noting that the kids are sensitive more than we know it.
She learned that positive parenting works, affirming the positive sides of the children instead of focusing on their negative moves which in return elicit a good response from them. Finding a way to reach out to the children is better than criticizing them severely.
Nanay Era gets her strength and determination from the support of her own family-her husband that fills the gap when she is not at home, and her children who help each other in the household chores. She takes pride in her children’s achievements in school (all of her children are academic awardees). Without them, she confides, she could have easily given up on BP. Back home she brings the stories of the BP children, and on occasions brings a child or two to her own family.
Nanay Era has risen from the ranks of being ordinary. As the BP Executive Director puts it, she has seasoned as a house parent; she understands the deeper needs of the BP children; she knows what works best for each of her boys. One child calls her “my mother survivor”, because, while other house parents come and go, Nanay Era is able to stay until this time.
She shares in her children’s painful stories. To her they could talk of their past lives. To them she gives love and understanding, as a mother, as a best friend and confidant, for this is only what she could offer best. When asked what life would probably be after Batang Pinangga, she smiled as her tears dropped and said, “Dili gyud ko ka ingon unsay mahitabo human diri (I can’t really tell what would happen next after this).
(Shiela Pacinio and Katreena Bisnar, UP-Cebu Mass Com Students)