AJPress illustration by Jillian Peñalosa

THIS Sunday, May 10 marks Mother’s Day — another major holiday that families will have to celebrate while sheltering in place and social distancing.

While treating mom to a dine-in meal at her favorite restaurant or going to a church service may not be viable options, the Asian Journal asked Pinay moms and their children around the country how they’ll be spending their special day this year.

Schedule a video chat with loved ones

For family members who live in different cities or are quarantining apart, a group video call is one of the easiest ways to mimic a large festivity. The options to host this are aplenty, whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangouts.

Amira Allah Arcangel facetimes with daughter, Aylah | Contributed photo

Digital communication is how Amira Allah Arcangel of Jersey City, New Jersey has been keeping in touch with and parenting her daughter Aylah in Manila from afar.

“We will spend it as always via Facebook messenger talking about anything under the sun,” Arcangel said. “Since I am thousands away from my daughter and [the] time difference is an issue, as a Mother, I have to be flexible. I always check her in the morning before going to work, if she has eaten dinner, done with homework and ask how her day was with friends. Then while at work before going home, my alarm at 5:30 p.m. EST is to wake my daughter up at 6:30 a.m. Manila time so she will get ready for school…My motherhood has been virtual for the past 10 years. My daughter even told me, ‘Ma, LDR couples will get jealous at us, we have been talking for 8 hours now.’ Talking to my daughter online keeps me stay connected with her as if she is just [in the] next room.”

Paloma Concordia, a public relations professional and mother of four in Daly City, California, said she’ll be watching a movie with food and a cocktail in hand with other mom friends, thanks to the “Netflix Party” extension on Google Chrome.

Sara Meredith and her mom, Rhiza, who lives in Kuwait  | Contributed photo

For Sara Meredith, who runs skincare brand Kaya Essentials in Los Angeles, honoring her mom has been a virtual celebration for the past decade as her parents live in Kuwait. Each year, she schedules a video call with her mother Rhiza and cooks her favorite Filipino dish.

“I would make my favorite Filipino dish that my mom cooks for me, sinigang na baboy (pork in sour tamarind soup). Although I have the recipe written down, I still like to call her and go through it with her because it makes her feel special, needed, and like she’s taking care of me,” Meredith said. “Even though — [and] maybe this is kind of typical of Filipino moms — she doesn’t say that, but I know she feels it.”

Make a meal together

For Ria Pretkin (far right), a Chicago mom of two, Mother’s Day will include a brunch with her parents and a Zoom call with her sister’s family | Contributed photo

Ria Pretekin, a mother of two in Chicago, said her family has to forgo their annual tradition of having afternoon tea at a hotel, but they will be having a brunch meal at home. Fortunately, her parents live at their house so they can all celebrate together and have a Zoom call with her sister’s family as well.

“We’ve been craving Filipino treats but they’re pretty hard to come by where we live so we’ve been learning how to bake in quarantine. We’ve learned how to make our own pan de sal and it has been such a nice family activity to make something from scratch together,” said Pretekin.

Mother’s Day Cupcake Kit

For those in Los Angeles, Kristine de la Cruz of Créme Caramel LA has partnered with coffee shop Kindness & Mischief and online retail store Manila Oriental to develop a “Mother’s Day Cupcake Kit” that gives families an interactive, yet easy way to make treats at home.

Each $45 kit includes three ube and three vanilla cupcakes, two piping bags with vanilla mascarpone buttercream and Belgium chocolate frosting and sprinkles, plus 1 16oz Oat Chai and 1 16oz Oat Matcha from Kindness & Mischief Coffee and a mug from Manila Oriental that says “tulog kain tae.” $5 of each purchase will go toward the bake shop’s Pandesal for Health Heroes donations.

Order from a local restaurant

Too tired to cook or craving a particular dish? Let a local restaurant take care of your dining needs!

In Los Angeles, Filipino restaurant LA Rose Cafe is offering a $150 meal good for up to five people, featuring eight savory dishes like seafood paella and Cebu lechon plus a dessert choice. Tatang in North Hollywood is offering a $70 “Mama Bundle” with lumpia, chicken sisig, bistek, salad and an assorted tray of small bibingkas for dessert.

There are several eateries in the Bay Area to choose from, such as 7 Mile House, a local Pinay and family-owned restaurant in Brisbane, which is now reopened. The restaurant has savory comfort dishes, desserts like the ube cheesecake, and a long list of cocktails for take-out or delivery. Little Skillet in San Francisco’s SOMA Pilipinas district has family meal boxes for up to four people, with options like its famous fried chicken or cajun crispy catfish with a choice of three sides and one dessert.

Make time for self-care

Many families have been holed up at home for over two months since stay-at-home orders were put in place. In addition to work and other household tasks, mothers have taken on an additional role as a teacher because classes have moved online. Taking a moment for one’s self and putting individual needs first are definitely welcomed, even if you can’t book a service at your usual salon or spa.

“Our labors are an incredible expression of love, though we need to remember that it’s necessary to make time to love ourselves too. It’s important for our families to remember this, and give us the love and support to breathe. This weekend, our advice goes out to the gift-givers, to those wondering what mom really wants. Let ‘tulog (sleep), kain (eat), tae (poop)’ be your guide. Let mom sleep in (or even just stay in bed to hide out for an extra hour). Feed her a meal she didn’t have to think about, cook or bake, and celebrate her with cupcakes and coffee. And finally, let her poop in peace. Oh, and don’t forget to say thank you,” said Olivia Reyes, co-founder of Manila Oriental.

Menchu Sanchez and husband Judith with children Michelle and Jude | Contributed photo

For Menchu Sanchez of Secaucus, New Jersey, self-care is about “taking time to rest, sleep and pray a lot for the healing of the whole world” and “doing self pedi and mani, like I am in a real salon.”

She maximizes the time she has at home by doing chores, and recently, she brought out an old sewing machine and she has been making cloth face masks and shields for neighbors and friends.

Grace Labaguis with hubsand Ron and children Jericho and Marc

Grace Labaguis, a marketing consultant and mother of two sons in Jersey City, New Jersey, said that “me time” for her has been rediscovering an old hobby, whether that’s baking, writing, reading or playing an instrument.

“Two weeks ago, I saw my keyboard that’s been sitting in our attic for many years. I got so excited that I immediately asked my boys to set it up for me,” Labaguis said. “I tried playing my piano piece back in grade school and was surprised that I still know the exact keys, but not the title of the song. I’m now thinking of getting a piano refresher course online.”

Julie Cruz, founder of FilAm Fam and her family in Los Angeles | Contributed photo

Julie Cruz, a mother of three young children in Pasadena, California, said keeping a list of one’s favorite self-care rituals is a good reminder.

“Take the time to reflect on what self-care activities re-energize you and make a list of them. Keep the list visible — either post it in your bathroom and glance at it while you brush your teeth and/or keep a list in your daily planner where you can easily refer to it. The point is to keep it top-of-mind and easily reference your go-to options when you need to recharge,” said Cruz, who runs FilAm Fam, an organization that teaches the next generation about Filipino heritage.

Arcangel said that self-care for her is also giving back to others by checking in on relatives and friends and see if they need anything.

“‘Virtual moms’ like me take time for myself by keeping myself healthy physically by doing home exercises, home cooking, cleaning and volunteering in the community,” she said. “I always send photos to my daughter of my daily activities.”

Self-care can also mean delegating and asking for help from your support system.
“Do what works for you. Don’t feel pressured to do it all because it’s an impossible task to work from home, assist your kids with distance learning, keep the house clean, and still find time for yourself. My tip for self-care would be to ask for help from your partner or parents if you can and be specific about what you need,” Pretekin said.

Safely go outside and enjoy nature

Paloma Concordia from Daly City, California and her four children | Contributed photo

The weather in many cities on Sunday is projected to be warm and perfect for a day outside, but local governments are closing down parks and other areas to prevent large crowds gathering. However, there are some other options to spend time outside as a family.

“Go to your local farmers market and have the kids choose flowers (or a new plant) for you, it’s always a nice touch to have fresh flowers in the home (not just on Mother’s Day!), and the kids will love the experience. You could even make it a learning moment and find out the names of the flowers they picked,” Concordia said.

Ledy Almadin and her two daughters | Contributed photo

Cruz said she and her husband have started a “merienda and tea time ritual” with the kids and hope to make that into a Mother’s Day tradition.

“In these past weeks, we’ve been itching to pitch a tent somewhere, have a picnic and let the kids run around. Unfortunately, it has yet to happen when factoring in the logistics plus our depleted energy levels as a result of caring for three young children 24/7,” Cruz said. “This Mother’s Day, we’ll likely set out an elevated version or our usual merienda and tea time — as a picnic, with flowers, candles and jazz music playing in the background.”

For Ledy Almadin, a mother of two adult daughters in Summit, New Jersey, going out for a walk nearby will be a way to unwind on Sunday.

“Time for myself since I can’t go to a spa or salon to treat myself is to [go for] a walk at our local hiking trail since this is the only recreation outside without any physical contact,” Almadin said.

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