How do you even define a “good” mother? In a patriarchal country like the Philippines, being a good mother, or a good woman perhaps means learning to sacrifice your own dreams and dedicating your life to serving your husband and your children. This has been a longstanding portrayal of mothers in television – whether in narrative
forms or variety shows.
My mother’s persona is different from these patriarchal standards and from what we see on Philippine television. When I was barely two years old, she left our family because she knew staying in our household would destroy her sanity. Growing up, I hated my mother. Being raised in a catholic school and a patriarchal community, I could not grasp the idea of being left by my own mother at an early age.
I used a television game show as a milieu for this story because working in this industry for eight years made me realize that Philippine television has the tendency to reinforce these very patriarchal standards of what a good mother is. It is my intention in making this film to challenge these standards because I know deep in my heart that as much as how loving Filipino mothers are, they also have the right to have their own dreams and sense of fulfillment.
This short film is written not to expose or embarrass the television industry, but rather to show that Filipino women, like my mother, are more than the women that we see on television and in films. They deserve better representation because mothers in the Philippines are not limited to those who have stopped having personal careers for the sake of their families. Mothers in the Philippines can also be career women without being tagged as selfish for pursuing their dreams.
They can be intelligent, they can have talent, they can have wisdom, and they can be the ones who earn for their families and at the end of the day, still be good mothers to their sons and daughters.
It was only about four years ago, after meeting her in the flesh, when I realized that leaving me was the best decision that my mother had to make to keep her sanity. She knew that her constant fights with my father came to a point when she was on the verge of a breakdown, hindering her from functioning as a mother. She is a woman with so much love who suffered torture and eventually became a broken person and abandoned her kids.
Mothers are always challenged. Every day, it is as though life is giving them obstacles to conquer. Sometimes, while they endure one test and another, they also undergo a transformation. Some become robots when they just do chores every day, others become as neglected as a souvenir from last month’s wedding reception. Motherhood can sometimes metamorphose a woman into something immaterial or in this film, out-of-this-world.