Nanay with her children

Love and Care

By Lanieta Tamatawale

In 2003 I met a wonderful lady named Andring Naliponquit whom I fondly refer to as “Nanay” (mother). She was 74 years old when I first met her 18 years ago, an exceedingly kind woman who welcomed me with open arms and open heart into her family. In February 2021, she celebrated her 92nd birthday!

Lanieta and Nancy
Lanieta and Nanay

Nanay Andring is the mother to seven children, four boys and three girls. When her youngest child was just a year old, her husband passed away suddenly leaving her to raise her children all by herself. Nanay Andring is a woman of faith and passionately believes that God has helped her raise her seven children. She worked several jobs, selling vegetables, fruits, washing clothes for neighbors and other decent and honest jobs just to earn money to feed her children and send them to school. Her older children also helped by working while studying as a means of helping Nanay to take care of their younger siblings and put food on the table. The little food they have is always shared equally among each other as a family.

Nanay has kept her faith in God, never missed Sunday Mass, taking her children to Mass and teaching them about the faith.

Her children are so grateful to her for all the sacrifices she made to keep them alive and sending them to school until they went to college. Her older son became the breadwinner helping Nanay taking care of the younger ones and finish school. This older son settled down in his mid-30s once the youngest one had finished his studies and got a job.

At present, six of her children are married and have their own families, all living near to Nanay. One daughter is not married and still lives with Nanay.

From 2003 – 2006 I lived with Nanay Andring’s family. I was very blessed, because they made me feel like I belonged to the family. Nanay would scold me as she would her own child whenever I came home late at night.

I remember the first time I came home late and found that the door was locked. It was midnight, we had finished a youth meeting and were just hanging out afterwards. Some of the youths accompanied me home. When I found the door locked, I walked around to the window and called the name of her daughter who lived with Nanay. To my surprise Nanay answered my call. “What time is it? Where were you?” She interrogated me as a a parent would their own children if they came home late without letting them know where they were. At this point I knew that I belonged to the family because she scolded me, but for me, it was okay. I felt that she cared about me, and I appreciated her worrying about me being in a foreign land and taking me under her care.

Because I was staying with Nanay Andring’s family, I became fluent with the Visayan language and learned more about the Filipino culture. I used to spend every birthday celebration, fiesta, Christmas, and New Year with all the family members. Nanay would never speak to me in English, only in Binisaya so that I could learn faster.

Nanay with her grandchildren
Nanay with her grandchildren

Everywhere I went in Mindanao, whether on a vocation campaign, or being assigned to Ozamis on my second term, people were always surprised to discover that I was so fluent in the language. Even when I was assigned in other Region/Mission Units I could still remember and maintain my fluency in the Visayan language. Some people are surprised that after almost ten years being away from Mindanao, I still haven’t forgotten the language. It’s because of the love and care of Nanay Andring, my greatest teacher. She made me feel like her own child, and always claimed that I am her imported daughter.

Furthermore, her faith in God in raising seven children inspires me a lot. She is greatly loved by her children and grandchildren. Sometimes, I felt ashamed living with Nanay because she would attend morning Mass every day at 6:00 am while I would only attend Mass. She challenged my faith. I am deeply grateful and blessed having met this amazing and wonderful woman. I am glad to have a second family. Now that I am reassigned to Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines, it’s nice to have a family to go to every once in a while, and enjoy the company of God’s people.

During my free time, or on special occasions, I always look forward to spending time with Nanay and her family. It is nice to have a home, where I feel at home and welcome. A special gratitude to Nanay Andring and the Naliponguit family for adopting me as part of their family. To God be the glory!

Originally from Fiji, Columban lay missionary Lanieta Tamatawale lives and works in the Philippines.