Awesome Women

Paz Sycip Yuchengco (Photo courtesy of Mona Lisa Yuchengco)

I never really realized the challenge of being a woman until I was in high school. Back then, I couldn’t go on dates unless my youngest brother accompanied me, and the whole evening was focused on pleasing him rather than my date. But my brothers never had such problems. Afterwards, I couldn’t go to the university of my choice for fear that my mind would be infiltrated with liberal ideas, but my brothers travelled to other countries to study. Later, when my marriage crumbled, I was expected to act like a dutiful and loyal wife, in other words, a martyr. But no one asked my husband to do the same thing. It was only when the “shackles were removed” and I took control of my own life without any interference from anybody that I began to realize the power of being a woman.

My two sons depended on me to feed and nurture their bodies (even with burnt food), their minds (with different perspectives) and their souls (with solid values). My children needed me to nurse their wounds and egos, to cheer for them as the best of anything. I had to set the example not only on how they should be good and productive human beings, but also on how they should treat the women in their lives. They learned that women, especially their partners and daughters, must be allowed to express ideas and emotions freely and be treated with the same respect and honor that they expect for themselves. It is only fair and just.

As I look back on my earlier years, it seemed like I always had to prove myself in everything I did because of who and what I am. I thank the women in my life, those who came before me, for paving the way despite the restrictions they faced. Inch by inch, their efforts did make a difference.

My awesome Filipina woman guest would be my mother, Paz Sycip Yuchengco, who died in 2004. She raised eight children, each one different and more stubborn from the next. I’ve been away from the Philippines for 31 years now, and I recently only discovered some things about my mom. I would like to know more: How did she cope with a bad marriage; why did she continue to live in the Philippines; what did she think about each one of us; what were her dreams, etc.? And finally, what is it like to be in Heaven?

To women everywhere, we are the icons of hope and the carriers of our children’s and grandchildren’s dreams--safeguard them well.

Mona Lisa Yuchengco

Mona Lisa Yuchengco