Ode to perseverance
The love pulsated. St. Anthony’s Church was full of family and friends of Antonia A. Mabini. God was present, too.
I did not have the honor of knowing this marvel of a person, but I wish I had. I do, however, have the honor of getting to know her daughter, Sam.
It’s clear to me where Dr. Shirley Mabini Young gets her roots.
The mass booklet for her mom’s funeral mass shared their “Mom’s Herstory.” It is so compelling that I wish to share it with you. It is so inspiring and hopeful that it lifted me in many ways. Antonia Mabini’s story reminds us of what we can make of opportunities and how relationships matter.
The following piece, titled “Mom’s Herstory,” is verbatim.
“Mom, a.k.a. Tita Onie, loved family gatherings, social events and lively music. She also enjoyed cooking, preparing delicious Filipino dishes such as her famous pancit, and sending people home with “balutan.” She can also be remembered for adoring babies or small children who could not escape her hugs and kisses. She prided herself in dressing nicely when stepping out, adorning herself in her favorite perfume.
“What many may now know about Mom was that she grew up in the Philippines as an orphan from age 8, the youngest of six children. This was right after WWII, when her brother, a widower, took her in to live with his small family in their tiny nipa hut in Baayan, Batangas.
“Wanting to continue her education, she looked for ways to earn money to buy basic school supplies. Before or after school, Mom said she collected and cleaned used glass bottles to recycle. She also washed and ironed people’s laundry, resold vegetables bought from roadside farmers, or made sacks to sell to other children her age.
“With the small amount of pesos she earned, she bought her meals, a few pencils and some sheets of paper needed for school. Owning only two dresses, she would carefully wash and iron these daily to wear to school.
“For her school graduation ceremony, she had to bring along her own chair. So, she carried a wrought-iron chair from home to school. Alone with no family attending, Mom then proudly received her third-grade graduation certificate. This was the highest level of education she received.
“During her walks to school or jobs, Mom said she would always pass a large house and enjoy hearing piano music drafting from open windows. She had promised herself that one day she would own a piano and have her children learn how to play. This she did, with her two youngest daughters growing up as pianists.
“Mom happily married our father, Larry Mabini, when she was 27 years old. She relocated with him to Guam in the early 1960s, where they raised their growing family. Mom also worked to help her brothers, sisters and their families find their new home in Guam. While Dad worked for the U.S. Navy Civil Service, Mom sewed for a living. She gained many friends as a seamstress, sewing all types of clothing including wedding dresses and school uniforms.
“She fondly recalled one remarkable outcome from her sewing years from an unexpected conversation with the late Dr. Ernesto Espaldon. When he came to the house one day to pick up his kids’ uniforms, he noticed that Mom had a cleft lip and cleft palate. He asked why she had not received medical treatment, and she explained that they did not have the money for the expensive procedure. Dr. Espaldon said, “Nonsense,” and instructed her to go to his clinic where he practiced plastic and reconstructive surgery. He and his wife covered the costs of the operations and treatments for Mom.
“We will always remember the incredible kindness and generosity of Dr. Espaldon. Today, the Espaldon and Mabini families continue the friendship.”
“Mom’s Herstory” will continue in November’s Pacific Island Times.
For now, we give thanks to Antonia Mabini and her family for making Guam home and for spreading such loving goodness. Blessed Thanksgiving!
Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislatures. You may write to her at email@example.com.