Supermom Lillibeth Abella: Abandoned Child Turned Volunteer Mom
There comes a time when you meet someone who’ll challenge the way you see and understand the world. Like motherhood for example, a concept which to most of us involves sacrificing everything for your own flesh and blood -- or in Mommy Beth's case, those abandoned or left behind by others.
Mommy Beth like most mothers has sacrificed a lot (including her own happiness) for her children but unlike most moms she didn’t carry her kids in her womb. Some were orphaned at a young age, others were given up by their parents. There are also those who were rescued from problematic homes (read:deemed unsafe)—all of them are not related to her by blood.
Yet she wakes up each day, plans her life around the children she cares for, in an effort to give them a place to call home.
“I can relate to them. I know what they are going through, I understand them because I was once an SOS child too, “ she reveals. Her mother a street vendor, gave her up when she was only 7 months old. She grew up with an SOS mom and her SOS siblings in a house in SOS Village Tacloban.
“I really thought my SOS mom was my real mom,” she recalls.
After a few years her biological mother came back to see her. “I was 12 years old that time, I didn’t know her so I kept hiding from her. I didn’t want to see her,”she shares. “Umiiyak sya kasi hindi ko sya kilala (She was crying becuase I didn't know her),” she adds.
Eventually after a couple of visits she got to know her biological mother, but deep in her heart her real mom was the one who raised her, took care of her, and gave her a home in SOS Village.
After graduating college she worked a few jobs until she realized she wanted to go back to her home. She started out as an SOS aunt. “At first I just wanted to see if I’ll like it. As an aunt, I was assisting other moms in the village in taking care of the children”.
She felt a connection with the kids there and eventually realized she had found her true calling, so she agreed to go through the SOS Mom training until she was assigned a house in SOS Village Manila.
In 2005, she became a full-fledged SOS mom and was assigned 12 children. One of which was a months old baby whom she is still caring for to this day. “Sa akin na sya lumaki (He grew up mine), he’s 9 years old now” she proudly declares.
These days, she’s busy caring for her kids, waking up early to prepare breakfast and prep them for school. “We send them to private schools in nearby Las Piñas,” she says.
The house is run just like any other home. Mama Beth assigns chores for her kids. “If they don’t finish their chores, I don’t let them go out and join activities with the other kids,” she answers when asked about her discipline style. “I remember my SOS mother, she was very strict! ...I think I’m different, I’m not strict. I just talk to them when they misbehave.”
She gets a food budget every month and goes grocery shopping with her small kids. "Sometimes, I'd have to shell out money from my own pocket especially when my anaks request for food that's not within our budget. Like sometimes they want to have chicken nuggets or pork chop. They go 'mama can we have pork chop?'," she chuckles.
Read more about this amazing supermom on the next page.
Describe you as a mom: As a mother, I am simple, not too strict, and understanding.
Why did you decide to be an SOS Mom? I grew up in SOS Children’s Village in Tacloban from seven months until I finished school, so I would like to give the same opportunity to children who had been orphaned and neglected. Moreover, being an SOS mom has made me happy. I can relate to my children and understand their longing for a mother figure. If they are happy, then that makes me happy.
Tell us about your kids! My kids are a blessing. They are good and obedient. But children are children and they may have different attitudes and behaviors, but they are all good.
What’s your secret to being a supermom:
My kids also give me strength, so I can provide for their needs. My kids make me feel good when they simply say, “Sarap ng luto mo, Ma.” Their happiness gives me strength.
What’s your me-time? I go to the cinemas, window shopping, or walking around the Festival Mall area. At home, I relax by watching talk shows on TV and reading magazines.
Your most heartwarming mom moment: There are a lot. When my children appreciate the little things I do, that alone is enough to touch my heart. I also appreciate it a lot when my children keep in touch through Facebook or text me even after they’ve moved out of the Village, or when they have moved to the youth facility—boys need to move to the SOS youth facility once they reach 16 years of age.
Your funniest mom moment: My kids are quite expressive, and whenever they’d ask me about my love life before I became their mom, who my crush is or if I had a boyfriend, for example, that would always make me laugh. That’s our way of bonding with each other.
What’s your proudest moment as a mom?
When my children can move out and can stand on their own, that makes me very proud, especially when they finish school. Another proud moment for me is also whenever I would get my kids’ report cards, and see that they’ve achieved the grades that they aimed for. They might not be that bright, but when I see them reaching their goals, that makes me proud. So far, I have two kids who graduated with a four-year degree, one in Communications, the other in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Did you turn out to be the parent you wanted to or thought you would be? For me, having children with different attitudes and being able to teach them the values that they need to learn -- it’s the same situation a real parent finds him/herself in. If I had my own children, I think I would raise them in the same way that I do my children now.
What about motherhood has surprised you? How has it changed you?
Every day I learn something from my kids. Akala ko sila lang ang matututo sa akin, pero ako rin natututo sa kanila. For example, at times, I get stressed, pressured; but they remind me, “Mama, chill ka lang.”
Sometimes I get paranoid or pressured, but they remind me to just relax, and then I realize that I really should just stay calm because there’s no reason why I should be stressing myself out.
What parenting issue are you dealing with right now and what you are doing about it?Teenagers can be a handful. I need to discipline them when it comes to using their cellphones or going on Facebook. But I manage by understanding this part of their lives. They even created my Facebook account.
It’s all about striking a balance. Also, sometimes they would answer back, but it’s still manageable. All I need to do is to talk to them and tell them what they did wrong, and settle things peacefully. Communication with my kids is very important.
What unique aspect of Pinoy/Asian parenting have you found to be the most helpful in raising your child/children?
My mother (in SOS Tacloban) raised our family as a family that prays together at 6 o’clock, goes to church as a family, nagmamano, and respects the elderly. I think these are very important values and I teach the same lessons to my children.
SOS Children's Village International is an organization that "provides stable, secure and loving care in a family setting for children who have lost their parents or cannot live with their biological family."
Find out HERE how you can help.
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