While children get their much-needed sleep, parents stay up late to make sure everything is ready for school the next day. Then they wake up very early to prepare their children’s ‘baon’ which includes not just the usual lunch bag and snacks for the day, but also an extra shirt, towel, and emergency cash to get the kids ready for school.
Parents unceasingly worry, 24/7. After the ‘baon’ is completed, parents move on to worry about their children being out of the house, far from their protection.
It is inevitable that children will spend more time out of their houses. Though a mother will silently wish for her child to be by her side, she knows that isn’t possible. She knows that there is a big world waiting for her child outside, and although that scares her, she has to let go.
Warlita King is like any mother who shares every parent’s concern. When her eldest son, Norman, was a child, she would follow him around heir village. “Paborito sya ng mga auntie nya. Madalas ko syang sinusundan. Pagwala sya sa tabi nya, hinahanap ko sya. Hindi ko kaya pinapabantay sa iba (He was a favorite of his aunts. I follow him very often. When he is not by my side, I look for him. I don’t allow anyone else to look after him),” she reminisced.
Warlita, 48, is a selfless, loving, and patient mother. She has dedicated her life to taking care of her seven children through every stage of their lives. That is evident in the life of Norman King, an Aeta, who pursued his dreams with his mom’s “pabaon sa buhay.”
In his moments of weakness, his mom was there to comfort him, sharing words of wisdom and family values that shall guide and protect him in life. Those “pabaon sa buhay” and his strong faith in God brought him to where he is now –a graduate of a premier state university in the Philippines, a dream he thought would never come true.
Pabaon sa Buhay
Today, Safeguard releases its film –“Pabaon sa Buhay (Protection for Life)” – that features Norman King and his mom, Warlita. The film highlights the words of wisdom of Warlita said to a young Norman. Though he might not have understood it then, Warlita’s words have been ingrained in his heart, serving as his “protection” all throughout his life’s journeys.
Here are some of Warlita’s teachings on life that helped Norman to reach his dreams with integrity:
1. Ang taong marumi ay ang taong hindi malinis ang puso.
Translation: The unclean person is one whose heart is not clean.
In this scene, mother and son are shown washing their dirty hands. The young boy (Norman) asks why the aetas’ skin is being compared to the color of dirt. Warlita replies that it is not important how you look like, but what’s in your heart that matters.
2. Alin ang karapat-dapat hanggaan? Isang taong madali ang buhay? O isang taong dumaan sa matinding kahirapan?
Translation: Who is worthy of admiration? One who led an easy life? Or one who has overcome extreme hardship?
This clip shows the young Norman being jeered at for wearing old clothes. When he arrives home, he suggests to his mom that maybe it’s time they buy new clothes. His mom asks if he is a shame to let people know they are poor. She explains that it’s the people who went through hardship who are worthy of admiration.
3. Kailangan ba talaga magbago para lang matanggap ka ng ibang tao?
Translation: Do you really need to change to be accepted by others?
Now a teenager, Norman walks into the house with afro hair and a bright hoodie. His mom reminds him that is not how aetas wear their hair. Norman explains that his friends understand him better with this look. But his mom knew that wasn’t Norman, making him realize that he does not have to change to be accepted.
Although this scene showed Norman rebelling over what Warlita imparted, the lesson had become ingrained in his heart. Over the years, he has come to terms with who he is, embracing his roots as an Aeta: “Ang turo sa ‘kin ng Nanay ko: kapag natanggap ko na kung sino ako, mas malayo ang mararating ko.” True enough, this can be seen in the video, as he goes up on stage to accept his diploma, in full traditional Aeta wear.
What’s next for Norman? He sees himself pursuing further studies in law school, to fight for his ancestral claim to secure their rights and for the betterment of the next generation of Aetas. Knowing he is equipped with his mother’s life lessons, his dreams aren’t impossible to reach.
Everything starts at home: words of wisdom, family values, and life teachings. Even the simple habit of handwashing can protect children from getting sick. Safeguard believes in the power of the “pabaon sa buhay” or life provisions that will prepare their children for life ahead. What kids learn at home protects them for life (ang natutunan niya sa bahay, proteksyon niya sa buhay).