Mother’s will fords every stream

She is the epitome of Filipino mothers who will endure the most difficult challenges of life just to ensure the well-being and bright future of their children.

Merly Barbosa peels Indian mangoes that she sells in Urbiztondo, San Juan town in La Union. | PHOTOGRAPH BY Raffy Ayeng FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

“I will not stop until I make sure that all of my children reach their dreams,” is a vow common to all mothers, but an obsession for 48-year-old Merly Barbosa.

Barbosa, a mother of 3, is a vendor of Indian mangoes and bananas in San Juan, La Union.

She is the epitome of a selfless Filipino mother who will endure the most difficult challenges of life just to ensure the well-being and bright future of their children.

Barbosa, in an interview, said she toiled to allow her two children, an information technology specialist, and an elementary school teacher, to graduate from college.

“I did not finish high school because I married early to a farmer. I don’t want my children to suffer the same fate. But my husband made sure that we do not miss three square meals, even though until now, he is just a tenant farmer. He receives P400 a day during the planting season. Part of his earnings is one sack of rice that he harvested to sustain our family’s rice needs,” she told this reporter.

As they needed money to sustain the studies of her children, Barbosa said she decided to sell fruits that her neighbors harvested, for almost two decades now.

“Lakasan lang ng loob ang buhay. Magugutom ka kapag mahihiya ka. (Life is about being bold. You will starve if you will be shy).

It was the night when this reporter was eating in a ramen shop in Urbiztondo when Barbosa approached and offered her products – green mangoes and bananas.

This reporter at first denied her offer but when Barbosa said “Pagod na ako sir kakaikot, ginabi na po ako wala pa po akong benta, sige na sir,” (I’m so tired roaming around and I haven’t made a first sale, please buy sir),” she lamented, melting the heart of this reporter while his curiosity was pricked about her life.

She said she earns P500 on a good day, but if not, what she takes home is usually from P100 to P150.

“My youngest is still in her third year in college. I want to make sure that she will finish her studies. Although it’s a struggle, I will do my best,” she said.

She is lucky to have children who help them financially even if they have their own families.

“I think I raised them well. That is already a win for me as I knew that they love me. That should be the norm, that love and affection towards parents should not end,” she said.

Struggles of a family

Besides being recognized as the North’s surfing capital, La Union is known for agricultural yields such as rice, corn, coconut, mango, and banana.

Efforts have been made since the tenure of former governor Francisco Emmanuel R. Ortega III, now being continued by her daughter Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David, to make the province become the heart of agri-tourism in northern Luzon by 2025.

“Farmers’ life here is a struggle. Aid from the local government is scarce, especially when we were hit by a typhoon last year. We are just rebounding,” Barbosa narrated.

Last August 2022, the province was hit by Severe Tropical Storm ‘Florita’, damaging agriculture, fisheries, and agricultural infrastructures in the province amounting to P35.5 million as of Aug. 26, the Office of the Provincial Agriculture in La Union reported.

The OPAG said the majority of the crops affected were the palay or rice while for agri-infrastructure and the damage was more on the irrigation canals and some farm-to-market roads.

Subsequently, the Department of Agriculture Ilocos Regional Office said they have released 20,000 bags of rice seeds, around 2,700 bags of corn seeds, and 520 kilograms of vegetable seeds to be distributed to farmers.

During the awarding of the World Surf League-Asia Pacific, David revealed that DA will initiate more projects in the province to entice tourists and businesses to provide jobs and revenues, especially for the poor like Barbosa.

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