Manny's Nanay Curing knows best

Manny’s Nanay Curing knows best
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – One look at Curita Bamba Villar, fondly called Nanay Curing, and you can tell that the 86-year-old woman worked her way through life. When you listen to her anecdotes, you will realize that she did not mind all the hard work. In fact she relished it and would not have her life any other way.

Thus when people say that her son, Nacionalista Party’s standard-bearer Senator Manny Villar, was not really poor, she can only shake her head in disbelief. It was she and her husband (Manuel Sr.), after all, who bore all the hardships and raised their children – all nine of them – in Tondo.

Nanay Curing, who can barely see now, rarely grants interviews. But recently, she granted one, to talk about the Villar family’s humble beginnings in the slums of Tondo, which political rivals of her son Manny have been refuting.

She said even at a tender age of six or seven, her eldest son Manny already displayed traits that were not common among children his age. For one, the young Manny would rather study and help her mind her shrimp stall in Divisoria market than play. Her son, according to her, even then was already hardworking and determined.

Kids will be kids and Nanay Curing recalled that the young Manny would also get bored and would run outside to play, particularly during rainy days when the streets were flooded. Together with other children in the neighborhood, Manny used to swim in the floodwaters.

Nanay Curing might not be aware of it, but that episode in Manny’s life now serves as the backdrop of her son’s immensely popular campaign jingle with the line “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage)?” The “sea of garbage” referring to the garbage carried away by the flood from Smokey Mountain, near the Villars’ house in Moriones.

A vivid image of Manny that comes to Nanay Curing’s mind was how her son seemed to be always lost in deep thought while staring at the sky. “Lagi siyang nag-iisip (He was always in deep thought),” recalled Nanay Curing.

Looking back, she said, her son might have been contemplating what the future holds for him.

Manny, the eldest among the boys, used to assist Nanay Curing in her market chores, from the midnight/dawn trips to the bagsakan (literally, dumping area where fish, meat, and vegetables are delivered) to selling the shrimps in their stall in Divisoria market.

“Nakatulog ka na ba sa bangkong makitid?” is another line from Manny’s television ad. Nanay Curing said her son really took intermittent naps on a wooden plank or bench in order to catch up on his sleep before going to school.

Tired and lacking sleep, Manny never complained, according to Nanay Curing. “Nasanay siya sa ganoon (He got used to it).”

When they got home from market, Manny would thus opt to sleep than play with other children or even his siblings.

“Tutulog lang iyan, matapos tumingin sa langit (He would only go to sleep after staring at the sky),” she said as she recalled that Manny loved talking to her about his plans for the future.

Nanay Curing is the first to get hurt when she hears all the criticisms and ridicules thrown against her son, such as when critics claim that Manny was never poor. She felt really sad that even the demise of her other son Danny (who succumbed to leukemia at an early age) was dragged into the barrage of political mudslinging.

She cannot fathom how other people can ridicule and mock an episode in their lives that was filled with so much grief. “Kapag may sakit ang anak mo, kahit na 40 porsyentong tubo ng pera, uutangin mo para lang maipagamot ang anak mo… Pinapasan ko ang anak ko paluhod patungo sa altar ng simbahan para mailapit sa Diyos ang lunas sa kanyang karamdaman,” the teary-eyed Nanay Curing narrated.

It can be recalled that Villar’s detractors released the death certificate of Danny just to disprove that Manny was not really poor since his brother was confined for treatment at FEU Hospital, which they claimed was an expensive hospital. Villar has clarified that they have a relative who was a nurse in the said hospital, who helped them.

His mother’s son

The closeness between Nanay Curing and her eldest son continues to this day. Even when Manny already had his own family, Nanay Curing said her son would frequently drop by her house in Las Piñas, especially when he has problems or some things are bothering him.

Her ready advice is simply to seek help and guidance from God. “Kung anuman ang gumugulo sa isip mo, magpunta ka sa simbahan. Andyan lamang ang simbahan para tulungan ka. Siya ang magso-solve sa problema mo (Whatever is bothering you, go to church. God will help you solve your problems),” Nanay Curing recalled telling her son whom she raised as a God-fearing person.

Sunday is reunion for the family. All the Villar siblings with their spouses, children, and grandchildren in tow would troop to Nanay Curing’s house after hearing Mass.

“Sama-sama kaming lahat dito (We have a get together here) every Sunday of the whole year,” she said.

She described Manny as very affectionate. “Tuwing pupunta yan dito, hinahalikan ako niyan. Maski ngayon. Pagpunta niyan dito, itatanong, ‘kumain ka na ba?’ (When he comes here, he makes it a point to kiss me. Even now when he is here, he would ask me, ‘have you eaten?’),” according to Nanay Curing.

Needless to say, Nanay Curing and Manny are very close. They spent almost all their waking moments together in Divisoria market where they had endless conversations.

A mother’s prayer

She can only pray for enlightenment for her son’s critics: “Lord, nakikita mo po, Ikaw na po ang bahala. Sana po baguhin Ninyo ang mga asal nila. Kita naman po Ninyo ang ugali ng mga anak ko. Ibinibigay ko na po sa Inyo, wala na po akong magagawa. Kung ayaw nilang maniwala, bahala na sila (You know everything. Please mend their ways. You best know how my children are. I leave it all up to You, as I cannot do anything anymore. If they don’t want to believe, it’s up to them).”

“Basta Lord, kung naririnig Niyo po ako, kung nakikita po Ninyo ang anak ako, bahala na lamang po Kayo. Ikaw na po ang makapagpapasiya (If You can hear me, You see my son. Your will be done. You are the best judge).”

As a mother, Nanay Curing said she knows her son best and it is not his character to put one over other people, as he is sincere and kind. Even allegations that Manny will just recoup his campaign expenses once elected president hurt Nanay Curing.

“Hindi yan gagawin ng anak ko. Dahil pinagkalooban siya ng masaganang buhay ng Panginoon. Wala siyang minolestiya. Wala siyang inutangan. Wala siyang sinalbaheng tao, kahit isa (My son will never do that because God already blessed him with a prosperous life. He did not molest anybody. He did not borrow from anyone. He did not harm anybody).”

Nanay Curing said that whatever wealth that Manny has accumulated over the years is fruit of her son’s hard work and perseverance or the very ideals of sipag at tiyaga that her billionaire son has been mouthing in his speeches.

She said Manny could genuinely empathize with the poor because he used to be one of them and she knows that her son is just being true to his vow to help without expecting anything in return.

In fact, she said, she also gets surprised that Manny seems to want to help just about everyone in distress including the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Nanay Curing recalled asking Manny: “Bakit pati sila, anak (Why even them)?”

Her son’s reply was simply, “Kawawa naman sila, Nanay (I pity them, Nanay).”

Mother and son have gotten used to their simple lives back then that even now when they can very well afford expensive fares, the two have simple tastes in food. Hard habits are hard to break indeed.

Nanay Curing said she had gotten used to eating “isang pandesal na wala ni anumang palaman at isang tasang kape o isang baso ng gatas (plain bun without anything in it and a cup of coffee or a glass of milk)” for breakfast, while her son is known to eat boiled bananas and sweet potatoes (kamote) with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Like arrows through her heart

Nanay Curing knows how dirty politics is in the country, so much so that her son has become the target of black propaganda and smear campaign. She is also aware that even other members of their family are now being attacked by her son’s political opponents.

This pains her as a mother but she is just leaving everything up to God.

“Siempre nasasaktan ako, ako ang ina eh. Sabi ko, Lord, Ikaw na lamang po ang bahala. Alam mo po ang lahat, Ikaw na lamang po ang magpasiya. Nasa Inyo pong kamay ang kapalaran ng anak ko (Of course, I am hurt since I am the mother. I just pray, Lord, I leave everything to You. You know everything and Your will be done. The fate of my son is in Your hands),” she said.

There is no doubt in Nanay Curing’s heart and mind that if her son Manny wins the presidency in the forthcoming elections, he will be true to his vow to help the poor and lift them out of poverty.

“Gusto niyang tulungan ang mahihirap dahil dati siyang mahirap. Sabi niya sa akin, gusto niyang makatulong sa mahihirap kasi naranasan niya ang paghihirap (He really wants to help the poor because he was once poor. He told me that he wants to help the poor because he experienced how it was to be poor),” Nanay Curing added.

You just have to take her word for it, a mother knows best after all.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.