The world defines success in many forms. Others view it as acquiring wealth, fame, and power. But for some individuals who had to strive every single day to provide food on their table, success is also determined on how they rise up from the ashes of their past and move forward to improving their well-being as a family.
The scenario is still very vivid in Mary Ann Mocot’s mind. In a quiet barrio in Polanco, Zamboanga Del Norte, a rumor about her started to spread like wildfire; it burns her and tears her up into ashes of shame. She was trembling, she was scared. Her hands were shaking as she bites her nails out of anxiety. She did not know what to do.
What if the rumor reaches her mother first? What if something happens to her mother once she knows about it? What if she will be kicked out of their house for disappointing her? Where would she go? These questions bugged her mind so much that she stayed quiet for a long time. She kept her secret hidden from her mother, Mila.
Mary Ann was a diligent student. She does good in class and presents a good standing in her school performance. As a person, she is sweet, friendly, and thoughtful. Her morena skin perfectly fits her Filipina attributes. No wonder she wins the heart of many in school, including Webster Mayormita, a former classmate who had his eyes on her since day one.
The two got close to each other and soon became an item. Their relationship grew and she became fascinated by the affection that they shared. And the rest was history.
She was sitting on a wooden chair with her boyfriend, Webster. Both looked as pale as a dove, their heads were bowed down, eyes were wet from tears that rolled down their cheeks.
“There is no turning back,” she thought. She can no longer keep the secret hidden. Her stomach already starts to show a bump as the life inside starts to grow. Still, her hands were shaking and she could not find the words to say nor she knows where to start. This was her sixth month as a pregnant, young woman.
Her mother was devastated upon hearing what was already obvious at that time. Mary Ann received a handful of reprimands, and so did her partner. Disappointment, anger, sadness, and worry were mixed up in her mother’s eyes. As a solo parent, Mila, her mother, questioned what she missed, where she lacked, and how she was as a mother.
She knew perfectly that she did not miss to remind Mary Ann to focus on her studies and make her understand the value of education, a right that they never enjoyed in their childhood.
As a consequence of her action, she needed to stop from attending school.
Grade 9 –such an immature time to stop. She could have done more; she could have achieved a lot more accomplishments in life. But given her situation, she needed to take care of her baby as well. One would think that it is easy. Take a time off, give birth, then get back to business. Unfortunately, reality is not as easy as that. The responsibilities will hold them back from doing more than they could have done. They will need to devote time as the baby grows into a kid –time that they will never get back once it was already spent. They will need to provide for the needs of the child: milk, diapers, vitamins, regular check-ups. How could they when they are both still students?
The anxiety started to kick in.
The fact of the matter is that it is their reality. There is no point for finger-pointing nor uttering more hurtful words. It is a reality that they needed to face and anticipate and plan. Mary Ann admitted that she is still in need of guidance for her baby and herself. Although still confused and quite lost, Mila and Mary Ann sought guidance from their Social Worker.
They were visited by the Municipal Link, Joe Anne Suizo, who conducted counselling and debriefing both for Mila and the young couple. They were asked what their priorities are. For Mila, she wants Mary Ann to finish her studies despite being a teenage mom. The Municipal Link checks on them from time to time to provide interventions whenever necessary.
Months have passed and the baby was born, thankfully, healthy. They knew that this is just the beginning of another chapter. Through the assistance of the Municipal Link, Mary Ann was slowly able to come back on track. They had completed a year in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and still waiting for the examination schedule. Mila recalls that one of her class teachers told her that Mary Ann did well in class.
Recently, Mary Ann was one of the completers among Grade 10 students and she is pursuing her 11th Grade at Polanco National High School. She plans to enroll in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand.
Mila, Mary Ann and Webster are now doing well as a family. She might have had it at the wrong timeline, Mary Ann said that it will not discourage her to pursue and finish school. With this experience, Mary Ann compares herself to a phoenix, one that obtains new life by arising from the ashes. She may have beaten by her past, but she will rise up again like a phoenix.