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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

#InternationalWidowsDay: Mom, the brave widow

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

June 23 is International Widows' Day but I do not know what to say to our Mom, who has been a widow since our Dad passed away in 2007.

The United Nations declared International Widows' Day in 2011 but many, like myself, are not yet familiar with it.

What do you do on this day? Do we say, "Happy Widows' Day?"

I certainly could not say that to our Mom because Dad's death is still very painful for our family, especially our Mom.

The UN said the observance of International Widows' Day is meant to call attention to the plight of poor widows.

The UN estimates that there are around 258 million widows around the world and about 10 percent live in extreme poverty.

In some countries, widows face harsh discrimination.

Raj Loomba is the founder of the London-based Loomba Foundation that fights against discrimination of widows. He recalls how, during his wedding, the priest asked his mother to stay away from the altar as she might bring bad luck on the couple for being a widow.

In the Philippines, widows do not seem to experience discrimination in that way. But widows here still face many challenges -- economic, emotional, among others.

Our Mom has faced many challenges too but it would be hard to tell from her calm and serene demeanor.

Mom misses Dad and quietly prays for him many times a day.

Our Dad, Lauro Velarde, was an extraordinary person. He was once the head of a car company, Ford Philippines Stamping Plant.

Growing up, I didn't realize how tough it must have been to have 2,800 employees under him.

I understand now why he sometimes lost his temper. As the eldest child, I would "scold" him about this.

Dad was a good person because he would tell me, "Thank you, anak."

He said he appreciated that I spoke up to him and told what was on my mind (well, he was the one who told me never to be afraid to speak up to anybody).

But I can never forget when Dad said he also appreciated our Mom's quietness.

He felt he would not have been successful in life if he married a loud and brash person.

Mom's calmness and quietness must have provided him strength.

I think Mom is quiet but she is not afraid. In fact, she is the bravest person I know. It takes courage and bravery to remain calm and serene amid trials and difficulties.

Mom said she finds strength in God. She prays for Dad and our family many times a day.

Thank you for being brave, Mommy. Thank you for giving us strength, especially after Dad passed away. Thank you for your love for all of us -- my siblings Fernando and Melissa, and our families.

May God continue to bless you, guide you, and protect you. We love you very much, Mommy.

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