This time last year, an inspiring image surfaced online: Norman King, an Aeta, proudly walking up the stage garbed in his lubay (bahag) to receive his college diploma.
It paints an inspiring picture of perseverance and achieving dreams no matter the circumstance. In Norman’s case, he had to deal with many things—from discrimination and poverty, to the aftermath his family faced as survivors of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.
Norman’s journey as the very first Aeta graduate from one of the Philippines’ top universities is not only an example of his determination but also of how mothers play an important role in shaping their child’s future.
The eldest of seven children, Norman expressed how grateful he is for his mother, Warlita King. As a stay-at-home mom, Nanay Warlita made it her mission to care for her children and their home. She raised Norman and his siblings in a loving, nurturing environment where God and family values were put first.
The following are “pabaon sa buhay” or life lessons that Nanay Warlita imparted to Norman, which better enabled him to wade through difficulties and emerge victorious. Take it from her, these make for insightful parental guidance and child rearing tips!
Never use hurtful words. Nanay Warlita isn’t used to getting mad. In fact, she wants her home to spread as much peace and happiness as possible. One thing she often tells her children is “dapat magka-isa” or to always love one another despite their differences.
Being clean goes beyond skin color. Norman’s mother taught him that being a dark-skinned Aeta doesn’t mean you’re dirty, and that the true meaning of being clean is determined by what’s in your heart.
Wisdom is gained from hardship. To encourage Norman, she taught him that there is much to be admired in people who overcame life’s difficulties and challenges.
Stay true to yourself. When Norman was going through bouts of insecurity because of poverty and his ethnicity, Nanay Warlita gently reminded him how important it is to love himself. As she would say, “Kailangan mo bang magbago para matanggap ka ng ibang tao?”
Accept who you are and you will go further in life. Norman was raised to be proud of his roots. In doing so, he became today’s representative of Aetas, of IPs (indigenous people) in general, of equal opportunities, and of dreams coming true.
Today, Norman is a lecturer at UP Clark where he is able to share his love for teaching and impart knowledge of culture, indigenous communities, their practices, traditions, and perspectives. He also does photography on the side. Norman dreams of going to law school so he can fight for Aetas’ rights and ancestral claims. He lovingly thanks and dedicates his success, hopes and dreams to his family—especially to his mother Warlita.
Just as Safeguard provides protection that lasts, parents’ “pabaon sa buhay” is highly empowering because what a child learns at home protects him in life—“ang turo mo sa bahay, proteksyon niya habang buhay.” Safeguard believes in the power of these different "pabaon sa buhay" or life provisions that will set their children ready for life. After all, what kids learn at home protects them for life (ang natutunan nya sa bahay, proteksyon nya sa buhay).
Be inspired by how Norman King took his "pabaon sa buhay" to heart in this touching video:
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