Filipino single moms: Life of pressure and faith

Disgrasyada” used to be a term accorded to unwed mothers , which is literally translated as “Disgraced”.

It had a more derogatory meaning – figuratively, “got  pregnant by accident” to allude to what is considered an “irresponsible” or “careless” conduct of becoming pregnant outside of marriage or because of rape. I’m not sure about the etymology of the term in this context, but I remember hearing older people refer to unwed moms as such when I was younger, up until the 1980s.

This negative perception of single mothers must have persisted and influenced by how society and, regrettably, herself view the situation.

According to p111 of a high school training module titled “A Guidance Resource Manual on the Growing Filipino Adolescent,” (published by Rex Bookstore , first ed 1998) , It asks: Paano ang pagbabalik sa Lipunan? (How to reintegrate into society?) “Ang pagiging dalagang ina ay hindi tinatanggap ng lipunan. Sinasabing disgrasyada. Kailangan ng isang batang inang tulad nito ang makabalik sa lipunang tumutuya sa kanya. Kailangan niyang makaya at malampasan ang masamang pagtinging ito sa kanya. Kailangan niyang makapagbangong puri at nang sa gayon ay muli siyang matanggap ng tao.”

(Translated:   Being an unwed mother is frowned upon in society. She is described as a “disgrace.” She needs to reintegrate into the community that mocks her. She must persevere and overcome the negative perception of her. She has to rebuild her reputation so that she can be accepted by others again.”)

So you can see how texts like this, which are taught in schools, spread misconceptions about unwed mothers, reinforcing the old “disgrasyada” outlook, and even putting pressure on her to reclaim her reputation, as if being an unwed mother is a crime, a disease, or a vice.

Being a single mother is a natural part of the ebb and flow of life. The cause and effect of any activity or decision only leads to one’s progress if the person believes it and her surroundings support that view. Otherwise, being caught up in unwarranted pressure to lie about one’s condition in order to comply to what society says can only result in one’s regression, stagnation, or downfall.

This book, by the way, also provides a biased profile of an unwed mother, accordingly (p110, Paano ang pagpapalaki sa bata? – How to raise the child?)

Kadalasan ang isang dalagang ina ay batambata, mababa ang pinag-aralan at walang karanasan sa pagtatrabaho.”

(Translated:  An unwed mother is typically quite young, has a poor level of education, and has no work experience.)

Different stories

Moving forward, I’d like to emphasize that every single mother’s story is unique. People with narrow minds believe that single mothers are women who fell carelessly in love with an irresponsible man, got pregnant, and were abandoned. If you still believe in this outmoded narrative, guess what: it’s already 2022! Time to get off your dinosaurs!

In the Philippines, the solo parent law (RA 8972) is already in effect. Section 3, Definition of Terms  defines a solo parent as:

  • A woman who gives birth as a result of rape or crimes against chastity, even without a final conviction of the offender provided that the mother keeps and raises the child;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to death of the spouse;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood while the spouse is detained or serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one (1) year; provided that he or she is entrusted with the custody of the children;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church; Provided that he or she is entrusted with the custody of children;
  • Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to abandonment of spouse for at least one (1) year;
  • Unmarried mother/father who has preferred to keep and rear his/her children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution;
  • Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child or children provided he/she is duly licensed as a foster parent by DSWD or duly appointed legal guardian by the court;
  • Any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parents: Provided, that such abandonment, disappearance, or absence lasts for at least one year.

Furthermore, the said law has reaffirmed the legitimacy of a transforming family structure in which one parent leads a family unit.

Some truths about single moms

I’d often hear stories about women who claimed to be single mothers, and while I praised them for being so forthright, I must agree that some used their “status” to get “sympathy.”

But I’m starting to understand why they do it. It’s the only way to make a judgemental, hostile society grasp their suffering.

Gaining “sympathy” is easier and safer than explaining the complexity of events without being attacked or victim-blamed. Gaining sympathy is another way of expressing they seek compassion.

Nonetheless, I hope that this group of single mothers knew their personal boundaries by not detailing their stories in such a way that they appear weak, helpless or by implicating other people who are no longer involved in her current circumstances.

Most single mothers I know and have met are strong women because they bear no grudges about their past; they accept their flaws, and they focus on their present circumstances to improve her life and the life of her child.

It is a blessing to embark on the route of motherhood. It goes through the motions of daily life. Being a single mother is not a “badge” of past transgressions or bad decisions! You can only look back on prior decisions to reflect on what possibilities to take in the present that would benefit your future, not as a continual reminder of your old, developing self. Furthermore, persons who have not participated in your personal growth journey have no right to pass judgment on who you are based on your path, and you should not allow them to do so.

The odyssey of a single mother rearing her children and building her family is empowering because the great demand of motherhood compels her to grow, to be capable, and to push her boundaries in order to nurture the very cornerstone of a society with her own hands and physical stamina.

Single mothers are courageous. She chooses to carry on with the pregnancy and give birth despite the difficulty of conceiving a human being with needs and expectations that are completely different from her own. Beyond morals, she feels that the child has the same right to life, to breathe, to grow, to have a name and identity as everyone else.

“In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves.”

– Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, 2014

Co-parenting with the Angels

“I reared my child on my own, with no support.” This comment, which is also a common lament among single mothers, mirrors both the negative and positive aspects of her views, depending on where she is coming from.

Either she believes she lacked the support system needed to raise a family or she tries to emphasize her competence in establishing a family on her own.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

-Sophia Loren, Actress

However, no one is ever alone on their life’s journey. Remember our Guardian Angels, – they have been assigned to us to guide, protect, accompany, and support us.

Faces of Angels: My own experience

Angels as winged beings

How do you perceive angels? They do not always emerge, but rather make their presence known.

When you are attuned to their presence – and attuning requires belief/faith that they are with you and available to speak and support you – you can feel their nudges, even hear or see them.

Angels can come in dreams as the winged beings we see in photos or movies, or as humans – strangers, old or new – offering you a symbolic message of advice and hope.

You can also “hear” them with either your physical or spiritual ear. This is how my youngest son’s Angel manifested itself to me. I recall his Angel assuring me that I would be able to meet our needs when I was raising my youngest. The second time, the Angel told me to trust when I had to quit my job to care for my then small children.

Angels can also communicate with you through sounds (music, hum, calling your name, chimes, etc.), signs (feathers, coins, pebbles, signage, iconography, crystals, repetitive numbers, etc.), or sensations (calm, tingling, cool, etc), or serendipitous events.

It is not unusual that Angels appear as winged figures with long hair and white robes.

I used to sleep with my eldest child closer to the edge of the bed when he was a newborn. Almost always, his small movements would startle me awake, and I would tend to him to make him feel comfortable.

One night, I fell fast asleep but was abruptly awakened for no apparent reason, and I saw my son’s Angel sitting beside him (I still don’t know where the angel was seated because we didn’t have a chair in our room and our bed was just a single wooden bed).

The Angel, seated sideways, was calm and unmoving. It wasn’t “glowing”, but it was illuminated by the faint natural light coming through the bedroom window. It has a pair of wings, similar to the ones seen in photographs. The “apparition” lasted less than a minute, and I turned my gaze to my child, noticing the blanket, neatly smoothed out and covering his chest. I knew it was the Angel that wrapped the blanket around him to keep him warm.

I was not terrified and it was as if seeing an Angel was an “ordinary” occurrence! That, I feel, is the hallmark of Angelic presence – one of serenity, joy, and contentment; thus, I fell asleep again.

I know why the Angel appeared to me in that manner in order for me to acknowledge them (I also perceived that the Angel was a male).

Ryan, the psychic medium of, explained in one of her YouTube videos that she sees angels as columns of light in her mind’s eye, but with her physical eyesight, she sees them as winged beings.

Meanwhile, our Angels guide those around us, whether they be family, friends, or strangers we meet unexpectedly who show us kindness, to extend us a helping hand so that we are not alone in our situation. You simply need to open your heart to receive this support and include them in your success story as a single mother.

Angels, no matter how they appear to us, are assuring us that they are present and ready to help us in our time of need.

To conclude, I’d like to share a special Angel prayer for all single mothers.


Prayer to Archangel Gabriel for Protection and Health

Archangel Gabriel, thank you for everything that you do to watch over and protect me and my family. Thank you for helping me do God’s work. At this time, I ask you to protect my health. Watch over my body. Keep my body functioning with strength and ease. Nourish my body so that I may complete the tasks I need.

Keep me strong so that I may continue to do the work of God. Protect me from illness and ailments. Help me heal quickly when I am sick, so that I may continue my time with my family.

I thank you again for all of the protection you have already offered to me, and I ask for this protection over my health.

In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

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