My Second Mother

Yes, I have a second mother. And no, she is not a stepmother.


I got to know her first as my English 1 teacher on my first year in college. Professor Jovita H. Orara was a very strict teacher. She was like a visiting professor from UP then. My classmates feared her because she would use her UP style of teaching in her classes. But later on, we found her very friendly especially outside the classroom. She was like everybody’s grandma.


After the first semester, she was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. During that time, there was no CAS existing in our school, and that meant that she needed to start her office from scratch.


That time, my parents have told me that our finances cannot support my nursing studies anymore because of the expensive tuition fees in our school. I was told that I should transfer to Bulacan State University, and shift to another course, hence I will not be able to continue my college studies. During that time, tuition fees in BSU was very cheap (as compared today) and so affordable especially for less privileged students. I felt terrible then, because I really wanted to finish what I have started, and become a nurse.


Having regarded Professor Orara as a friend, I told her about my dilemma during class cards distribution. She was quick to suggest that I work in her office so that I will not have to pay my tuition fees, so that I could continue my nursing studies.


My parents did not object, and I promised to them that I will try my best to balance work and studies in order to graduate in time. They supported my decision and believed that I could pursue the goals I had set for myself.


During my stint as a student assistant for Dean Orara’s office, I came to know a lot of things that I still value up to this day. My tight schedules taught me how to value time. I would wake up very early in the morning to study, and prepare for my nursing internship in hospitals. After my hospital duty, I would rush to Dean’s office to do some errands, and some paper works. Later, I would be seen attending my classes until 7pm. I would also accompany Dean Orara home, a trip from Bocaue to Quezon City (where she lived), and back, on Mondays and Wednesdays. I would be home by 9 to 10 pm.


Ma’am O (I got used to calling her this way) also taught me how to become organized.  I absorbed her system in running her office. I made sure memos were signed by receiving persons, corrected even the smallest typographical errors, and made sure files were labeled and in order. I was made to manage a small library, which further improved my organizing skills.


I was made to deal with people more often. I was a timid person initially, but got over it after I dealt with different kinds of people as part of my work. I helped in the enrollment process where I got to deal with students. I assisted teachers with their work. I circulated memos. I was made to visit teachers in their respective towns. I was introduced to the UP community. I got to watch quality movies, stage plays, and ballet performances.


My values enriched as she taught me a lot of life lessons. She would tell me stories about her struggles in life and how I should get inspiration from hurdles and impediments. She trained me to become a strong person, enduring the sometimes harsh realities of life.


After graduating, I was then absorbed by the same office as an Office Assistant. Later on, I found a nursing job, and I found it difficult to leave the place. But even after leaving my office work, Ma’am O  and I never lost contact and she remained my mentor for life. Whenever I needed to make tight decisions, it was her that I would consult. She considered me as the son that she never had.


She would also call me if she needed some help. And I would always come running at her doorstep. We started a unique friendship. When I went to work abroad, we remained in touch through phones, letters and cards.


When I was about to get married, I found it difficult to tell her. I knew I would break her heart, as real mothers would. And break her heart, I did. She felt so sad when I announced my wedding. But I knew that was just an initial reaction. I knew that she was just worried if I was making the right decisions in life, just like any parent would think in that instant.


She does not usually attend weddings, unless it is her daughter’s, I know that. But she attended my wedding. Mine was an exception to the rule, ah!


Today is her 81st birthday (Nov 15). We celebrated her birthday in her office yesterday, together with her faculty members. I think this is my first time in five years to be in the country for her birthday, so I really made an effort to be present. I bought her a cake from Red Ribbon. She just sent me a text message this afternoon telling me that there has been a lot of food during the day, but yesterday’s cake was still the best, not because of the taste, but because it has full of love. Whew! So inspiring…


I owe a lot to Ma’am O and words cannot just measure how much her contribution is to my life. She made me become who I am today and she will be part of who I will be tomorrow. I will forever be grateful for having been blessed with a second mother.

29 Responses to “My Second Mother”

  1. November 19, 2007 at 5:56 am

    Nice story bro. Keep up the good work!

    God Bless!


  2. November 19, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    you write so well. i enjoy reading ur blogs that is why i bookmarked your site. job well done!


  3. November 21, 2007 at 1:33 am

    tnx for the visit. this is such a good post. i hope Ma’am O could read this and just like any other teacher in the world this is the best gift that she would probably receive. i am deeply touched by your story.


  4. November 21, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Robert & Diego, thanks!

    Lirio yeng, I become more inspired to write when I know that I am able to touch other people’s lives. Thanks for dropping by!


  5. November 26, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    You are such a blessed person.


  6. November 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Sometimes we forget to thank people who has made us become who we are now. Nice post.


  7. November 26, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    nice topics, nice blog. you seem to be hard-working too so dont forget to give credit to your own perseverance…


  8. November 27, 2007 at 4:03 am

    william, neil and marcus, my big thanks for your nice comments!


  9. February 26, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    wow ang bata pa ni mam orara jan ah hehe. prof q din po siya s english 1 & 2. grabe dmi takot jan pero ang bait ni mam.


  10. 10 digitalcatharsis
    March 3, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    yup…the best talaga yang si ma’am o. we are lucky to have her.


  11. 11 axel a. sucalit
    July 11, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    . .. may i ask for a favor with regards to maam o .. there’s this book i borrowed from her years back, i wish to return it to her… if you may provide me with her tel no. or cel no. or address, it will be much appreciated… i used to visit her at up dilliman campus during my med student days at up-pgh.. i do hope she still remembers me…


  12. August 9, 2008 at 9:57 am

    hello. Ma’am O (i also call her this way) became my Filipino professor for four years. and i also owe her a lot. she seems like a grandma to our class. 🙂


  13. 13 digitalcatharsis
    August 14, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Dr. Axel and Kristine Mae! Thanks for coming here!

    I knew there’ll be lots of people out there who share the same love for Ma’am O. She’s over 80 years old now, but she’s still teaching. If there’s anybody out there who also became her student, show your appreciation by giving her a call. Leave me a message here and I’ll give you her number.


  14. 14 kristine mae betansos
    November 15, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    what’s her number? it’s her bday today! 🙂


  15. November 16, 2008 at 1:21 am

    yup it’s her birthday today! i called her this morning to greet her!

    i’ll email you her number later…


  16. 16 Irma
    March 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Well, this is a surprise! So nice to read a living tribute to my aunt. Hmm, I could not resist putting a comment here. Two of her children now live in America: one in NY, the other in San Diego, Ca. I also went to UP and finally, at the University of Maryland.

    I take it that you’re still in contact with her currently. I think I’ll forward your blog to my cousin and see what she says.

    (copy-paste from friendster post)


  17. 17 digitalcatharsis
    March 17, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Irma, thanks for dropping some notes. I just came back from my vacation to the Philippines and I was able to eat out with Ma’am O a few days before I left. She still teaches and is still very active at 83. Please do let her relatives read this post. I am sure they will be proud for having her.

    I’ll also let her know about you. Cheers!


  18. 18 Jasmin
    October 26, 2010 at 3:42 am

    You are very fortunate to be blessed with kindness by her. My mother, unfortunately, was not lucky enough to be one of the few recipients of her kindness. It was thoughtful and supportive of her to offer you a position in her office so that you could afford Nursing School. She however, did not show the same support to her own kin who wished to attend Medical school. But it is good to know that there is someone in this world that still loves and cares for her despite their lack of blood relation. Give my regards to my Grandmother (I’m the daughter of the son she did have), and please do let her know that I was accepted into Johns Hopkins Medical School (top medical school in the U.S), graduated top of my class (Suma Cum Laude) at UCSD for Neuroscience and Physiology…. All accomplished despite her snide words that I’d never become a Doctor, or close to it because it was “not in my blood” to become one.


  19. 19 digitalcatharsis
    October 28, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    HI JASMIN! Thanks for dropping some notes here. I am very glad that a relative of hers did find this old post of mine.

    Guess what, I just talked to your grandmother a while ago. I am on vacation to the Philippines and I managed to squeeze in today a chance to personally check how she is. I visited her in the school where she still teaches. I am very grateful for the many things she have taught me when she was younger, and so I always try to pay her a visit whenever I’m in the country. I mentioned about you to her and she was very proud of your achievements. She said you really wanted to become a doctor.

    I wish that despite your not being in good terms with her, you find in your heart to forgive her. She is still your grandmother after all. Your father was conceived by her. Her blood runs in you. I just hope that it does not get too late before you let her know about your forgiveness. She is 84 – frail and weak-looking. She was recently hospitalized and none from her family even found out. And yes, she still teaches despite her age – to make both ends meet, as she has nobody else to depend to.

    Please take the time and effort to speak to her. You might not get the chance again.


  20. June 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I’m glad that God helps us in times of struggles. In this situation, God has sent you your second mother 🙂 My professors are like that too, they are really strict, but when you really get to know them, you will learn a lot and you will be able to say that they are a totally different person. And I really felt it in your post that you are very grateful for her.

    It’s sad that she has no one to depend to. Maybe because she has not been in good terms with her family, but she does deserve some love. Helping you get through college might be her way of making it up to her loss.


  21. June 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Wow..yeahm your very lucky to have her..despite nga sa nabasa ko kay jasmin na parang she’s being hard to her family..

    Anyways, kuddos to you to all the effort and thanks to Maam O..


  22. June 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    wow! Your Ma’am is blessed to have you! you’re such a sweet and loving man.


  23. 23 kat
    June 28, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Ang swerte mo at nakatagpo ka ng katulad ni Ma’am O mo….tsaka nakitaan ka nya ng kagalingan so sayang naman if mag si-shift ka ng other course….


  24. 24 jamiejumaquio
    January 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    i miss Dean O. I’d like to see her again.


    • 25 nelson RN
      January 28, 2012 at 4:59 am

      Hi Jamie, I can tell you how you can see her if you really wanted to. She just moved to Antipolo this month. She is 87 and very weak. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you 🙂 Send me a private message through my email (nelson_0628@yahoo.com) so I could send you the details.


  25. 26 rachelle enriquez
    June 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    she’s a great person, and she will always be remembered, i miss her so much


  26. 27 Anonymous
    April 19, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Hi, I am one of her students way back then. She is one of my favorite professor during my college days, the same school from where you graduated.
    Your story is definitely an inspiring one. You are one of the luckiest student.
    I am sad knowing that she passed away. But, I know for sure that she is happy in the arms of Our Almighty. No more pain and sufferings.
    Keep on inspiring us with your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. 28 Alma Cielo
    November 2, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Nelson, thank you so much for writing this. I remember Ma’am talking about you when I came to visit after college! I was just searching for a photo of her to put on my altar for All Soul’s Day. I am so grateful!


  28. February 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Reblogged this on AuntyUta and commented:
    Nelson writes beautifully. I love this story about his ‘Second Mother’. This is why I reblog it here:


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