A Woman of Faith

Nanay Andring with her children - Photo: Lanieta TamatawaleNanay Andring with her children - Photo: Lanieta Tamatawale

Eighteen years ago, I met a wonderful lady named Andring Naliponguit whom I fondly refer to as Nanay (mother). She was an exceedingly kind 74-year-old woman who welcomed me with open arms and a warm heart into her family. She just turned 92 years old this February.

Nanay Andring is the mother to four boys and three girls. When her youngest child was just a year old, her husband passed away. Suddenly, she was left to raise her children all by herself. She worked several jobs: selling vegetable and fruits, washing clothes for neighbors and other decent jobs to feed her family and send them to school. Her older children worked while studying to help their Nanay take care of their younger siblings. The little food they had on the table was always shared equally with each other as a family.

Nanay Andring is a woman of faith and she passionately believes that God had helped her raise her children. She always attended Sunday mass with her children and taught them to foster their faith.

Her children are grateful to her for all the sacrifices she made. When the older son got a job, he became the breadwinner, and supported the younger ones through school. This son only settled down in his mid-30s once the youngest sibling had finished his studies and got a job. At present, six of her children are married and living with their own families near their mother. One daughter who remains single is staying with Nanay.

Furthermore, her faith in God in raising seven children inspires me a lot. Sometimes, I even felt ashamed because she would attend the 6:00am mass every day while I would only attend mass on Sundays. More importantly, she challenged my faith.

From 2003 to 2006, I lived with Nanay Andring’s family. I was very blessed because they made me feel like I belonged to the family. Nanay would scold me as she would her own child whenever I came home late at night. One time, I came home at midnight from a youth meeting and hung out with some of the youths afterwards. When I found the door locked, I walked towards the window and called out the name of her daughter who lived with her. To my surprise, it was Nanay who answered, “What time is it? Where were you?” She interrogated me the way a parent would if their daughter came home late and without informing them where they were. She scolded me, but for me, it was okay. This is when I knew that I belonged.

It was during my stay with Nanay Andring’s family that I became fluent with the Visayan language and learned more about the Filipino culture. I used to spend every birthday celebration, fiesta, Christmas, New Year with all the family members. Nanay would not speak to me in English, only in Binisaya so that I could learn faster. Everywhere I went in Mindanao, whether on Vocation campaign, or when I was assigned to Ozamis on my second term, people were surprised to discover how fluent I am in the dialect. Even after I was assigned to other Region/Mission Units, I was still able to remember and maintain my fluency in the Visayan language. After almost 10 years of being away from Mindanao, I still haven’t forgotten the language. It is all because of the love and care of Nanay Andring, my greatest teacher. She treated me like her own child, and always claimed that I am her “imported” daughter.

Lanieta and Nanay - Photo: Lanieta Tamatawale

Furthermore, her faith in God in raising seven children inspires me a lot. Sometimes, I even felt ashamed because she would attend the 6:00am mass every day while I would only attend mass on Sundays. More importantly, she challenged my faith.

Now that I am reassigned to Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines it’s nice to have a family to go to every once in a while, and enjoy the company of God’s people. During my free time, or on special occasions, I always look forward to spending time with them. A special gratitude to Nanay Andring and the Naliponguit family for treating me as their own. I am deeply grateful and blessed to have met this amazing woman and the wonderful family she has built. To God be the glory!

Lanieta Tamatawale is a Columban lay Missionary from Fiji who is presently assigned to the Philippines.

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