A Mother's Day 2019 Special: Baby Gaisano & Bibai Gaisano-Puyat On What They Appreciate About Each Other
“When you know better, do better,” is an adage that is attributed to the great poet Maya Angelou, and while it can be applied to several aspects of one’s life, it’s one that rings true for the relationship that Baby Gaisano and Bibai Gaisano-Puyat have.
Both Baby and Bibai are hands-on moms, and have had the privilege of raising their children and seeing them grow up. Baby knew early on that if she were to have a family, she would be there for her children in all aspects. “I was left by my mother when I was three years old; I grew up with my grandmother. I grew up fast, tending to a sari-sari store by the age of five. I was the only girl in the house. When I met my mother when I was around 10, I realized then that I was truly on my own; that I couldn’t rely on my mother, or on anyone. So growing up, I knew that I would never leave my children, and I never would want my children to go through the hardships I went through. I didn’t want what happened to me to happen to them, no matter what.”
When Baby started a family, she was happy to be blessed with four children: three boys and one girl. She stayed true to her promise of being there for her children, and giving them the comforts that she didn’t have growing up. “I was there all the time for them. I was always in their school, I would bring them lunch, go home to cook, then bring their clothes to change after school. I wasn’t a working mom because I stopped working when I got married, so I was able to focus fully on my children.”
Bibai, the second child, is Baby’s unica hija, and she has no qualms saying that Bibai had a different set of rules growing up compared to her brothers. Baby says, “I was strict with her because she was the only girl. By the time she was in elementary, she already had a lot of suitors. I was strict with her phone usage, with her schooling, things like that. We would fight about those before. Growing up, I asked her to promise that she would choose a guy who would bring her to the altar for a wedding, who would marry her. Because she’s the only girl, and I would be a failure of a mother if I didn’t guide her well. But at the end of the day, everything would be okay. She was easier to raise, she can manage herself, and she’s always been independent."
Bibai recalls with much humor about how it was like growing up with Baby as a mother, the flipside of being on the receiving end of her mother’s fury, when three-way calls were still a thing, and her mother would lift the other extension and give Bibai and her caller an earful. “Every time my phone would ring, I was so mortified. Like I would be so scared that she’ll pick up. She was always home, so she was always with us and knew what was happening.”
Bibai remembers that her mom was indeed always there for her, recalling times when she would tag along with mother. “When I was around Audrina’s age, around five, she would bring me along anywhere. My memories would be in Greenhills, shopping, riding the Lovebus. Now that I’m a mom, I know that she was doing errands and I would tag along because there’s no one to look after me. Now I would have those memories, like, ‘Oh, that was what she was doing so she could do things,’ and so I had to be there. So now I feel those were crucial bonding moments, because that was one-on-one time. When we were home, they were preoccupied with other things. I think my mom, like, they’re just doing what they have to do. Back then, talking to your kids wasn’t a thing, they’ll just tell you what to do, and you just do that. They’re not trying to understand your emotions, no conversations about it.”
Parenting was a different time then, and growing up, Bibai knew fully well how her mother’s upbringing shaped how she raised and treated her children. She says, “My parenting style is how my daughter would feel my presence more, to be more of a conscious parent. Their needs are different. Audrina, she’s more into time spent with her. Alvaro is more on doing things for him. That’s the challenge—to not loop them together and parent them the same way. Nowadays, I’ve been teaching them how to do things by themselves. Like packing away, putting clothes in the hamper, giving herself a bath—that’s self-help. Because even if it’s hard right now, they have to do it because I want them to grow up and not cry over not knowing how to do these things.”
Baby did what she thought what was best at the time, and like all mothers, learned as she went along. Bibai’s generation approaches motherhood in a way that is starkly different from how she was raised, but one that Baby commends. Bibai says, “When you’re a mom, you don’t know how to be one, honestly. It just comes, and you’re inventing every day. And then who’s your role model? Your mom because that’s who you grew up with. But then, of course, there are things that you swore you wouldn’t do when you have your own kids, but it repeats itself and you have to consciously remember to do better next time. My goal as a mother is really to make them feel loved. At the end of the day, that’s that. I hope they grow up that they know their mother loved them—that’s it. That’s what I try to remind myself every day.”
As of writing, Bibai is expecting her third child in a few months’ time. Alvaro would playfully peek into the room to get a glimpse of his mom before getting started on the day. Audrina, her eldest and only daughter, was comfortable with entertaining guests, sharing her books, and spending pockets of time with the family members present. Audrina clearly has her mother’s calm grace and demeanor, and she’s growing up to be what Bibai hopes she will be: a good girl with empathy for others.
Bibai marvels over the fact that she’s going to be a mom of three—one child away from her own mother’s brood of four. Motherhood has opened Bibai’s eyes and heart more to Baby, making her realize how strong and amazing her mom was for being able to raise her and her three brothers, and for fulfilling her promise to always be there for them. “Whenever I would complain about my hardships before, like what will I do with Audrina, we don’t have food for the day, what will I cook—I remember what my mother went through, and I feel so weak. I realize how hard it was for her before, and then I would feel like, what am I complaining about? Nowadays I tell my mom that I appreciate everything she did for us—I don’t know how she did it. I thank her for being there for us.”
*This article was originally published in Metro Society March 2019 issue.
Photographs by Jinggo Montenejo
Makeup by Sydney Helmsley and Hanna Pechon
Hair by Kim Echavia