Sunday, November 11, 2007

Simply, Mamita

I was waiting for a flight when I got the news that Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera had passed away last week. I thought of writing an obituary, but postponed it, not wanting to write while I was still overwhelmed by grief. Mamita was a second mother to me; my parents referred to her in Chinese as my “hua lang bu” [Spanish mother] and said that with great pride. I still mourn her passing, but write now, hoping to capture the way she lived, vibrantly and so full of celebration.

I had graduated from college just a year earlier and was working with the Catholic Church’s community-based health programs, when a Maryknoll sister suggested that I apply for work with a new non-government organization. It was called AKAP, an abbreviation of the kilometric name Alay Kapwa Kilusang Pangkalusugan [Caring for Others Health Movement], specializing in tuberculosis control and headed by Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera.

Dr. Tavera? The name of an old wealthy Spanish family alone was intimidating, yet I can’t remember the job interview to have been grueling in any sense. What I recall is how she introduced herself, and she insisted that she be called, simply, Mamita.

Article by Michael L. Tan. Pinoy Kasi column, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 2, 2007