Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary

FOUR human beings pervade my consciousness these days, and they happen to be all mothers.

First is Tina Tan, whose recent appointment as Tourism Officer of Ilocos Norte made me so happy, I almost had permanent cramps on my facial muscles due to oversmiling.  Thanks to Manang Imee for getting only the best and the brightest to work in the bureaucracy.

I can name many a reason why Tina is best fit for the job, but I will limit my list to only three due to lack of space.

First, she loves Nature, being highly involved in ecotourism and environmental protection groups.  And she goes beyond lip service.  My students she led in a mangrove cleanup in Pasuquin would attest.

Secondly, I think Tina has reached a point in her life when acquiring material possessions is no longer the order of the day, as she and her husband are a highly accomplished business team.  I am not saying the rich don’t steal–the case of Manny “Dagat ng Basura” Villar belies this–but I think Tina is so accomplished in her life (finances, family, romance) that she really just wants to contribute something good to the community. I can vouch for Tina’s integrity.  I dare predict she will not be corrupt.  Her son Eugene, a very unassuming and respectful boy, is my student at MMSU.  Eugene shows how successful Tina is in her most important role–as mother.

Third, and most importantly, Tina Tan is most fit for to be tourism officer of this beautiful province because she is a woman who knows how to celebrate life in ways big and small.  From food served in A-restaurants to dirty ice cream and ice scramble sold in the streets, from high fashion to indigenous stuff in the mountains of Adams, from Kings and princes to paupers like me—Tina Tan finds something interesting she is generous and vivacious and childlike enough to share to the world.

How do I know a lot about her?  I am a fan of her Blauearth blog which I have previously featured in this space, and this forces me to name a fourth reason, although I only promised three.  Tina Tan sends the message across clear and perky enough to attract men and women from everywhere to go pack their bags and explore Ilocoslovakia.

Way to go, Tina!


Helen Yumul Geronimo is my sister.  Her son Jerome Jay, my nephew, hurdled the November 2010 Electronics Engineer Licensure Examination.

I witnessed how much my sister struggled to support J-Jay all the way to success.  There were a lot of humps along the road.  And when I say a lot, dear karikna, I really mean A LOT.  Among these are J-jay’s undergraduate thesis which seemed impossible to finish, desperate efforts to have erroneous entries in J-Jays birth certificate rectified (for which my sister and her husband Boy had to borrow money from everywhere), and J-jay falling victim to a robber in his boarding house in Manila.

I have always believed J-jay would pass.  Failure was never an option.  That is why I had a tarpaulin streamer bearing congratulatory messages printed days before the results were officially released.  At twilight of Dec. 2, the sweet news came out.  J-jay was one of only 21.76 percent who passed the test.

From MMSU Batac where I was working overtime, I immediately rushed to Ate Helen’s house.  And there she was jumping and laughing and embracing everyone and thanking God almost all at the same time.  She was even more jubilant than J-jay.

Ahh, mothers.  What can we become without them?


Christian Espiritu of the Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trades (INCAT) reminded me, in a Miss Universe kind of way, the real essence of a teacher.

Christian is the trainor of the INCAT-Laoag City Gymnastics Team which made outrageous raves in the popular TV show Showtime.

After their magnificent (pardon the understatement) performance in the a daily elimination round, here are what the hosts and judges had to say:

Bhong Navarro:  Akala ko grand finals na.  Alam niyo grabe kayo, para akong nanood ng show sa ibang bansa.  Kinikilabutan ako, Nikki.

Nikki Gil: Ao din e.  Parang Vegas!  At dahil parang grand finals na, tinapos na nila.

Kuya Kim:  Sa kauna-unahang beses sa Showtime, nag-standing ovation ang mga tao kahit hindi pa tapos ang performance.

Geneva Cruz:  World-class talent kayo.  Perfecto!

Karylle:  Bravo talaga, standing ovation, nag-party-party pa ang madlang pipol at ang mga hurado dahil sobrang tuwa sa ginawa ninyo sa stage.  Thank you for showing us once again that Filipino talent is world class.

Band Member (uh-oh, dunno name):  Hindi kayo tao! hindi kayo tao! Nakakasira kayo ng ulo dahil sobrang galling niyo.

Ryan (the Korean):  Your performance was the best.  Ang husay na sayaw, ang husay na costume, ang husay na concept, parang Divisoria.

Vice Ganda: Nakakaloka, huminto ang mundo ng lahat ng taong nakakita sa inyo habang nagsasayaw.  Kumalat ang lipstick ko sobra, pero hindi naman ako nanghinayang.  I have never seen a performance as astonishing as yours in this season. ‘Yung sinasabi nilang parang Las Vegas, I m so sorry, I beg to disagree.  Hindi parang Las Vegas.  That can only happen here in Showtime, only in the Philippines!  At proud na proud akong maging Pilipino dahil sa inyo.  Kanina, nagbigay ako ng 10 sa dalawang grupo.  Ngayon lang nangyari sa akin ‘to.  Parang gusto kong baguhin ‘yung scores na binigay ko. Promise. Pero ‘yung dalawang grupo, deserved talaga nila ‘yung 10, kayo hindi niyo deserved ang 10.  Puwede sa inyo 20 pa nga, kaya lang sobra na e.  Todo talaga.  Kaya nga nakakaloka, nakakaloka.  Tapos na, tapos na.  …Tama sila, hindi kayo tao, mga hotdog kayo, dahil bibo kayo!

Before their Showtime appearance, the INCAT and Shamrock Elementary gymnasts were nobodies. Today, they are a national, er, international sensation.

But before the world saw their talent.  Teacher Christian Espiritu did.


I met an accident in downtown Laoag at 6:30 pm last December 8.  I won’t go into details but enough be said that looking at the damage to my motorcycle, it was impossible that I was not wounded.  Not a single scratch.  And I am not complaining, of course.

I do not want to sound superstitious or preachy-religious, no, not me (I have not gone to Church in over two years!). But I could not think of any other explanation but that the Blessed Mother saved me from harm.

The day before the accident, someone asked me to write a speech she will deliver in a mass for the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.  I did not feel like doing it but did it anyway for the sake of friendship.

This is how I ended the speech, “May the Blessed Virgin Mary continue to keep us under her mantle of protection and help us remain worthy recipients of God’s grace.”

I never thought, dear karikna, that I was writing that line, not for a friend, but for myself.

Humbled, I am thankful to be alive and safe and healthy and sane and able to appreciate Tina, Helen, Christian, Mama Mary, and all the beauty and goodness that surround us.

Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

3 thoughts on “Tina, Helen, Christian, and Mary”

  1. behind every successful men are mothers who sacrifice soo much or wife whatever it maybe…sometimes pushy women but sometimes thats what it takes.so kudos to all the mothers …mother theresas of the universe…..

  2. Tina is very much deserving to be so. She’s dedicated, able, willing and committed. Her group LEAD Movement, nurtured her heart on the environment’s upkeep and she enjoys doing sports and other adventurous things. She has all my praises regarding her zeal to promote our province on tourism. Nobody else could ever duplicate her qualifications for the post.

    My family, relatives and friends take pride on the great performances of Laoag Gymnastics group. Their feat provides a boost to put Laoag and Ilocos Norte on the world’s stage through the youtube. Kudos to all members of the group, together with their mentors and sponsors.

    Congrats to J-jay! I wish him well and your sister. Too many graduates, too few passes the board, fewer still who lands an employment on the multitude of graduates that our colleges churn out yearly, ready to face a job that is not there. How I wish that some enterprising balikbayans would dwell on the prospect to put up businesses to provide job opportunities to all these graduates…

  3. i happen to know and have met helen and her family a few days ago and all i can say is what a lovely family .she comes from a lovely family herself. helen not only a good cook but a loving mother of 2 lovely gentlemen.her leche flan is to die for and her mom ludys kare kare is out of this world.i am proud and it is my great pleasure to be friends with them and be considered a part of their family.may GOD bless each one .

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