IRENEA ABASANTA, MOTHER OF 17
by Reilan Abasanta
Meet my mom, Irenea. She goes by the nickname “Neneng” and everyone loves her! She always flaunts her beautiful smile wherever she goes. She may only stand 4’11 but my admiration for her towers above Mount Everest! Let me tell you why.
Irenea Abasanta, mother of 17, acknowledges the help of her husband in raising their huge family in the gospel.
We all know that raising a child is difficult, but wait ‘til you hear this: my mom raised seventeen children! Along with each child are the obvious financial and physical demands that my parents had to endure and navigate to provide for our needs, not to mention the emotional toll that each mother goes through every time she gives birth. If the pain of childbirth can traumatize some mothers, imagine the physical hardship my mother went through when she gave birth to all 17 of us via normal delivery! That, plus the endless diapers she had to change, made me think that my mother has superpowers, and you cannot convince me otherwise!
My mother gave up everything she had to put her children first. After having her first child at the young age of 21, she realized she had to give up going to school to become a full-time mother. As one of her children, I would tell you that she has been the cleverest and the most hard-working! Every time she’d go to the market to buy our food, she’d say a silent prayer asking God to help her budget our limited finances. I rarely see my mother buy anything she wants. Whenever she gets hold of some money, no matter how small the amount, she’d always think about us and would ask God to help her maximize her resources. She’s always been that way — prayerful and faithful.
My parents always prioritized paying their tithing. Being responsible for managing the finances, my mother would always make sure to set aside 10% of their increase for their tithes regardless of the dire need to provide for the necessities of the family. My mother was the one who taught me to put God first and trust that he will give me everything that I need. She taught me the value of keeping the commandments regardless of the harsh circumstances. She taught me to love and serve God and His children.
The Abasanta couple with all 17 children and their spouses and children.
Having recounted all these hardships, I would still see my mother smiling. Despite being battered by life’s challenges, she would still choose to find light and serve other people even if it leaves her nothing. I can see Christ in my mother— longsuffering, charitable, humble, and patient.
So that’s my mom, Irenea. The “Neneng” that everyone loves. The mother who has been through so much but still carries her beautiful smile wherever she goes. She may only stand 4’11 but my admiration for her towers above Mount Everest, and now you know why.
LORETA TANAP: A WIDOW WHOSE STRENGTH IS THE LORD
by Teacheneer Toledo
Nanay Loreta Tanap, an icon of faith and strength in Pasig Stake.
When my family and I moved to Pasig in 2021, we were eager to meet new friends at church. A name we frequently heard was Sister 'Nanay' Loreta Tanap, and I discovered later that she was known as one of the strongest women in the stake. Everybody said she had a kind heart, a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, and was a hardworking mother. Those who know her, whether at church or in the neighborhood, found her to be an inspiration.
My mother also shared “I met Nanay Tanap when I was in high school, I can say that she really is a strong person. I was so delighted to see her again here in Pasig.”
Her Bishop, Elijah Collado also mentioned “I just love how she bears her simple and true testimony. I love that she is a doer and not just a preacher. She lives the Gospel in her life. It brings such inspiration to me. I also love how she guides her grandchildren, and I was touched by the joy she felt when her grandson Joshua served a full-time mission.”
When I learned about her experiences during a testimony meeting, my awe and respect grew. She was widowed at a young age and was left to sustain three children. Despite being alone and disappointed, she maintained the determination to work hard for the sake of her children. She would earn money by selling snacks, native cakes or delicacies, rice meals, and whatever else she could think of.
“It was a very difficult time for me because I lost my husband and I felt so alone. I did everything to put food on our table. I never lost hope because I knew that God was always there for me,” recalled Nanay Tanap. Despite her hardships, she still served faithfully as the ward Relief Society president.
Sister Tanap enjoys serving in the temple with her Relief Society sisters.
The Relief Society president who replaced her, Sister Iris Delgado, stated “When I was a brand new Relief Society president, Sister Tanap was a very patient mentor. She taught me how to be a good leader and to dedicate time to visiting the members.”
Sister Mayet Rosero, one of the Relief Society sisters, confirmed “She always reached out to me asking me if we were okay. She would encourage visiting sisters to focus on those who were in need. There were always vegetables available for us too! I learned a lot from her good example. Her service in the Relief Society organization is unforgettable for me.”
Because of her hard work and faithfulness to the Lord, she was able to raise her children well. Now, they are all enjoying good and prosperous lives with their own families. Most significantly, although she is advanced in years, she is still serving the Lord. She is an active member of the church who magnifies her calling and she also serves as a temple worker.
“I know that God is always there. He always took care of me and my children. He is the source of my strength.” stated Nanay Tanap.
I have felt her pure love, not just for her children but for everyone who surrounds her. That’s why, when I go to church, I love hugging Nanay Tanap.
When I hear about Nanay's life experiences and lessons, I think of my mother's and other moms' sacrifices, which makes me appreciate them even more. I realized that they put a lot of love into their family and the people who surround them.
MARILYN BORIGAS: RAISING HER “CHILDREN” IN THE GOSPEL
by Sharon Perez
Marilyn Borigas has dedicated two decades of her life to teaching seminary and institute.
My husband and I were privileged to have been invited to a reunion of seminary students in the General Santos Stake. As we listened to the testimonies given by the seminary graduates of class 1987 to 1995, they all had different stories to tell except for one detail that they all had in common. They all expressed their immense gratitude to Sister Marilyn Elechicon Borigas, their beloved Seminary teacher.
After Sister Borigas served a successful full-time mission in the Philippines Baguio and Quezon City Missions in 1987, she had a strong desire to be a mother. In the absence of a spouse, she focused on her 2nd desire – to become a Seminary Teacher. That wish came true when she was called to that position at age 29.
However, in her desire to teach seminary, she became more than a teacher to her students. As I listened to her students narrate their precious experiences with Sister Borigas, they spoke of how Sister Marilyn became a second mother to them: how she loved giving assignments so they would drink deeply from the scriptures, how they were constantly fed after class, how their house became a home (invited or not) to these youngsters, and how she became a constant guide and confidant to help them stay close to God and to the Church during their adolescent years.
Sister Borigas is flanked by some of her former seminary students and the author with her husband, S&I Coordinator Edmond Perez.
She taught eight years of Seminary and 12 years of Institute, which totals 20 years of gospel teaching experience. Although she eventually got married at age 49, she was not able to have children anymore. But that did not stop her from exercising her divine nature as a nurturer. Aside from her students, she also took care of 11 of her nieces and nephews and 3 of her siblings’ grandchildren. They are all active members of the Church who participate in and enjoy the blessings of the Seminary & Institute program.
Currently, Sister Marilyn is serving as a Family History Consultant in her ward. But she continues to find time for her former students. She would follow up on them and even reactivates her former students who lose their way.
Her words of wisdom to mothers? “Feed your children spiritually. It is natural to nurture them physically but we need to make the effort to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let your children attend Seminary no matter how busy they are. This is what makes them strong so they will become the future leaders of the Church.”
A mother who successfully raised 17 children with the help of her husband... A widow who single-handedly raised three children... A surrogate mother who taught and nurtured the children of others in the gospel... They represent all the different types of mothers who love their children more than life itself.
All three ladies are examples of faith, hard work, patience, perseverance, and Christlike love. May we learn from their stories and draw inspiration from their struggles. May we appreciate our mothers, today and every day of our lives.