Baggao, Cagayan Valley
President Heber J. Grant, the First Presidency wrote: “The true spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives to woman the highest place of honor in human life. To maintain and to merit this high dignity she must possess those virtues which have always, and which will ever, demand the respect and love of mankind … [because] ‘a beautiful and chaste woman is the perfect workmanship of God.’” To occupy the highest place of honor places a responsibility on young women to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places.
WOMANHOOD: "The Highest Place of Honor"
“For her price is far above rubies!"(Proverbs 31:10)
This month, my husband and I visited his home town the province of Baggao to mourn with his loved-ones and to say our “temporary goodbyes” to Lola Fania as her mortal ministry just ended. It was bitter-sweet indeed. Bitter, for we will surely miss her bright spirit but sweet because of the unexpected family reunion that happened. After listening to all of their unfading stories about Lola and as I met each member of the family, I felt extremely blessed to be part of this wonderful and loving clan, the “Burgos Family”. They welcomed me so genuinely! Love was added to my life! Colors are even brighter!
“Motherhood is the crowning beauty of womanhood…”
My mission president once told me that my influence will go beyond generations to generations—and this very moment of Lola’s funeral was a glimpse of a fulfilment of his prophecy. I knew that every righteous woman’s influence could go far beyond, because her faith and wisdom are history’s matchless legacy. As we celebrate Womanhood this month, today’s blog is a list of lessons I have learned from Lola Fania’s life. I will call it the “EPS”. In finance it means— “earnings per share” but I prefer to use the definition of this acronym from the field of electronics and technology, EPS— “external power supply”, for indeed, she was a power supply of love and unity in the family.
Education is like farming. In Baggao, this is the major source of income. They work hard to plant seeds, nourish them and then patiently wait for the harvest season. This is life’s formula to greatness attesting the principle of “what we sow, we will reap”. After serving a full-time mission as a volunteer teacher for 18 months for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I didn’t know what to do next. I got confused which step to take. I wanted to get married and to raise a family. Finishing school wasn’t really my focus at that time. However, Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for each of His children. We can know His will for us through mighty prayers—“I knew I had to go back to BYU-Hawaii”. He wanted me to earn my diploma. Going back to school was not easy, but surely it was worth it! I spent many nights at the Library restoring my knowledge in Mathematics, Accounting and Statistics! I had asked God many times why I had to slice eggs, chicken and lots of fruits every single day to pay for my tuition. There were many occasions when the Lord reminded me of my purpose while in Hawaii to finish school. My life won’t be this beautiful without a college diploma. The wisdom I have gained from learning made me closer to the kind of person I am fore-ordained to become.
PRAYER. Though our name is the sweetest word to our ears, hearing someone praying for you vocally is even sweeter. Lola was a prayerful woman. She loved her family dearly. Her happiness was to see them happy. Since most of them are away from her, she knew that praying for each of them was her only way of sending immediate helps when they are sad, challenged, and full of sorrows or in pain. Prayer was a mode of transporting her love and care to them. Lola died right after she bore her testimony of the Savior, his gospel and our Heavenly father’s divinity. She sealed her life with her faith. God is the ultimate source of tender mercies. She knew that sometimes we might be helpless or simply we couldn’t be there personally with our families all the time but Heavenly Father through our prayers could touch someone’s heart to be an angel or an instrument for our loved-ones needs and comfort. He provides the way when we trust Him.
I am pleased to be a recipient of her final petitions to the Lord. She constantly prayed for my husband’s welfare and happiness; “to finally find a wife”. After she watched our wedding video, tears of joy ran through her face. This act of love pricked my heart so deeply that it reminded me of how we become deserving of blessings others’ have sought selflessly and diligently for us. Their faith makes us worthy of God’s chosen favors! Her life was a reflection of God’s unwavering love for it testifies that He truly hears and answers our prayers according to our faith and according to His will. Lola cultivated a strong desire in me to treasure my marriage and make it my highest priority!
Just like Lola, my husband taught me the power of prayer. When you are married, you see your spouse’s faults, weaknesses and mistakes so clearly. So clear that you could erupt anytime like a volcano. But what I love most about my husband is whenever he prays and talks to His Father in Heaven. I learned that the sincerest of the sincere is the one who constantly ask for God’s forgiveness with a humble heart. It is being able to see the beauty in others more often and to recognize our dependency to the Lord. It is being ever grateful leading to a feeling of content. When my husband was still courting me, he one time invited me to attend his ward FHE. When he arrived at my sister’s apartment where I used to live, our doorknob got broken. My sister asked him if he could fix the knob before we go. It took him hours and hours to finally finish the task. He later on confessed to me that it was his first time to do such repair and that he actually kept praying silently in his heart while doing the job. His motto is if you don’t know what to do or how to do it—pray! When still it’s not working, try to pray some more!
James E. Faust declared, “Their divine role as caregivers helps noble womanhood gain “the highest place of honor in human life.”.... One of your unique, precious, and sublime gifts is your femininity, with its natural grace, goodness, and divinity. Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each of you possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty.”
There were bunches of people who attended Lola’s funeral and wake. I was honestly shocked because almost the entire “Baranggay” (town) was there. The value of our Filipino tradition called “BAYANIHAN” was exhibited. Neighbors were helping us with all the preparations for the foods, cleaning and transportation from the house to the cemetery. A mother is someone who cares and serves her children untiringly and unconditionally. I was impressed how Lola’s grandchildren love her. They each have personal experiences of how Lola manifested her love for them. Although I have never met Lola, I felt her love through her family. There was so much love around me. Indeed, a grandparent’s love could exceed a parent’s love—sometimes called spoiling! Nah! But for reals, I felt really blessed for more love was added to my life. I am honored to be a Burgos now. LOVE is the word.
I remember my first fight with my husband. It was because he was too caring!! I know every woman wants to feel her bf or husband’s care, but growing up independently away from home made caring unusual. I always had to take good care of myself and to stay strong whatever, whenever and wherever. My husband cares about how much I eat, if I drink water every after a meal, what to wear and that I should look nice and presentable. He doesn’t allow me to carry any heavy stuff or to work too much. He cooks for me, do laundry with me, opens the door for me, and many more! I felt like a baby and I disliked the idea. While in Baggao, I totally understood why he acts like that. Everyone in the family was like my husband! Ilocanos are like Hawaiians. They have this strong family bond. Everyone is your uncle and your auntie. They care so amazingly! Lola loved to feed the people around her, and so my husband. Foods were overflowing the whole time we were there, and not just for us nor for the extended families but for the whole town. Yes! Seriously I was overwhelmed! The clan was very generous! Also, one of my hubby’s tita (auntie) gave away toys for all the children in their zone. Sweet!
As we concluded our trip, I pondered how much love I felt with the Burgos interconnection as they call it. The women in the family are awesome and full of grace. I feel extremely blessed to have such a loving mother in law, new adorable aunties and fun cousins! I was also blessed to witness the sustaining of my sister-in-law’s hubby as the new bishop of their ward. Astig sila! Womanhood is divine. We must celebrate the beauty of it each day!
PS. Please hug your mom, grandmoms, sisters and girlfriends for me today! Cheers for Who run the world? Girls!