BY PRECIOUS YUTANGCO
FEATURES EDITOR, EXCALIBUR
She works 16 to 24 hours per day and still is a mom.
Every morning when most people are still asleep, my mother wakes up and makes her way to work, sometimes while it is still dark.
Pilar Rosario Loretto Belleza Yutangco, commonly referred to as “Peachy”, was born Oct. 12, 1955, in the Philippines.
The oldest of four, she was popularly known in her small hometown of Ilocos Sur as a smart and well-respected lady. A petite woman, she is five feet tall, weighing less than 100 pounds.
Throughout high school, she dominated her class, with top grades earning her the title of valedictorian at her graduation.
After attending St. Louis University in Baguio City, she earned a degree as a chemical engineer. Graduating at the top of her class, she quickly became a professor at a campus in Manila.
A few years later, she met a man who later became her husband and my father. In 1986, I was born, despite reports from doctors that they would never have a child. Believing that it was her duty to nurture her child and complying to the
demand of her husband, my mother began to stay at home. This gave her the time and opportunity to create homemade baked goods which she began to sell to her neighbours.
At the time, the nutrition movement was headed towards whole wheat and so my mother created a unique line of whole wheat breads in various flavours, which also accommodated diabetics. The demand grew and soon she opened her own
business, which my father quickly took over.
Shortly after, my father became abusive. What began as baseless anger, developed into physical harm, leading to numerous hospital visits and a miscarriage.
In the 1990s, my mother filed for a marriage annulment, propelling a long custody battle that seemed never-ending. With our well-being to worry about, and lacking the support of a seemingly corrupt government, we escaped to Canada.
In May 1995, we arrived in Winnipeg, with nothing but two suitcases of clothes, very little money and a promise from my father that no matter where we went, he would find us. Not knowing the options available to her, my mother was only
able to acquire us a visitor’s visa. Legally, she was not allowed to work and I was not allowed to attend school.
But, by the hand of God, my mother was able to obtain work “under-the-table”. Though her employers paid her cash, they insisted on reducing her wages. My mother earned a mere $5 per hour, forcing her to work two jobs.
We also met someone who operated a small private school called KinderKollege. The owner schooled me secretly at a discounted price. She was also generous enough to provide winter clothes for us when we could not afford it.
After much hard work, patience, and some savings, we finally became Canadian citizens five years later. Although my mother was legally able to acquire a well-paying job at long last, misfortunes sustained our financial hardship, including a
prejudiced layoff and lack off child support from my father.
During this time, she rethought her passions. It was then she remembered her joy and love for baking. She decided to open Organic Oven, a bakery catering to the needs of people with allergies to wheat, sugar, gluten, dairy, egg, yeast,
The first five years of a business decides whether it will be successful or whether it will fail. It has been four years since the grand opening and each year, the business continues to grow. But just as we started life in Canada with nothing, she also started the business with very little.
Financially, we continue to struggle although things get better with each passing day. Because revenue is rising slowly, it is risky to hire help as they often turn out to be unreliable. Thus, my mother works 16 to 24 hour shifts, often sacrificing
sleep and pulling all-nighters to reach production demands. Friends, family and even doctors often wonder how she does it and where she finds the strength to work.
It is here where admiration is due. Her story may seem simple, typical even. But her energy, endurance and mental strength are things that are becoming rare in this world.
When faced with illness or fatigue, she pushes herself to do more, to go beyond what appears physically impossible.
When times get hard, she is a rock of strength.
To her, I owe who I have become. She has shaped my values, taught me perseverance, and has continuously given me wisdom. I find an excerpt from Proverbs 31 can further describe who she is and so I leave you with this: “Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies. [She] works willingly with her hands and rises also while it is yet night.
She girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good [and] her candle goes not out by night. She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
I love her and she is, to me, a woman I truly admire.