This is something I wrote for Gold Star back in 2009. When I wrote this, I was working for a BPO company as an assistant content writer. It was a job that allowed me to embrace one of my first loves – writing. My mom always encouraged me to keep writing.

In 2006, a month before she left us, she kept telling me to quit my teaching job so I could focus on writing. I love teaching but mommy knew how stressed and overworked I was at that time. I promised her I would heed her advice. After she died, I kept my promise and resigned from Philippine Southfield School. My mom was my mentor, my guide, and my inspiration. I talk to her every day, asking her to continue watching over us and to never stop guiding me.

I’m posting this here so I’ll always remember how passionate she was. So I’ll always remember how much she cared for and loved us. I know she still does. This is for you, Mommy.

Mommy/Paris, July 1996 (featuring Charlemagne’s statue at the back)

In February 2006, I witnessed both an ending and a beginning. On the 26th of that month, my mother, Chic Fortich, died. My mom was a writer. My mom was also 98% blind. This, however, did not stop her from pursuing her dreams. Back in the 90s, she had a regular column with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She also actively supported and worked for the causes of the blind. Mommy was passionate about everything and often, people misunderstood her.

Growing up, I spent most of my free time helping out my mom. As early as my high school years, I was already exposed to every activity that Mommy took part in. I would accompany her to seminars, workshops, parties, and other important functions. In Manila, when she did interviews for Inquirer, I accompanied her. Towards the last part of the 80s, she wrote and produced a Binisaya musical that was staged at the Dalubdulaan of the Meralco Theater. I played assistant to her. I practically grew up embracing the world where my mom moved around.

Mommy and Maia
Taken during my HS graduation – 1985

However, like most daughters, I refused to be compared to her. I didn’t want to follow in her footsteps. So even though I started writing poems and short stories early on in high school, I didn’t want to pursue a course in writing or journalism. I wanted something in line with tourism or hotel and restaurant management. Eventually, though, I got more and more involved in theater and journalism/creative writing, my mom’s fields of expertise. So, I gave in and took up Mass Communications in college.

I’d like to make it clear though that it was my own decision, my own choice. By the time I reached college, I was already in love with writing and theater and the arts. My mom, though she would often correct me, never failed to encourage me; never failed to let me know how much she believed in my talents and in what I could do.

Mommy and I at Restaurant Botin in Madrid/July 1996

In 1998, I decided to come home to Cagayan de Oro and pursue teaching. My family was then experiencing financial difficulties and my move was part of our plan to re-settle in our hometown. And so, I started my new life as a teacher. Again, my mom was instrumental in that move. She was the one who suggested the idea to me; she was the one who told me I had the potential, especially since I loved children and children were easily drawn to me. Again, my mom was right.

Chic Fortich_Hotel Sofitel Paris
Mommy used a magnifying glass for reading (Hotel Sofitel Paris/July 1996)

When my mom died, I was already in my eighth year as a teacher. I loved my job and my students had become like my children. But I was too tired and stressed out already. A couple of months before she passed away, Mommy kept pressing me about my plans. Did I still want to go on teaching? Was I not interested in taking on another job? I admit I was a bit irritated, especially since she practically asked me every week. Deep inside though, I knew I had to listen to her. After she died, I made my decision and tendered my resignation. I didn’t know what would happen to me but I never doubted. I never felt afraid. I knew my mom was smiling down on me. I knew my mom was happy for me. That was enough for me to go on.

with Mommy & Daddy at Executive Centrum (early 1980s)

When my mom left us to join our Creator, a door was shut. Something ended. But her passing also gave way to a new beginning – for me and my family. Now, I’m enjoying my new job and my new life. I can’t say I don’t miss teaching. I do. I ache to teach again. But I know that will come. For now, I’m taking my mom’s advice. I’m back to my first love – writing. Even when she’s way up There already, my mom has guided me.

My favorite photo of Mommy and I at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City/July 1996

Mommy, wherever you are, a big high five for you! I truly miss you, but I know life is better There. I hope you won’t get tired of guiding me, though…I love you.

Nery-Fortich Family
with Mommy and my sister Connie (early 1980s)

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