My Mom, the Survivor
(St. Therese of the Child Jesus is my mom's patron saint since she was a nun)
She was so near into making her permanent vows and this was to marry God. But
God must have other plans for her. Instead, she traversed into a different path - a path she thought she would never encounter. And with this path of life she took, never did she feel any sense of regret despite all the opportunities she had lost when she decided to walk away from having a religious life, no chance could compare with the joy she had when she became a wife and a mother.
Born in a big family, Susana Abarcar lived a typical girl's life. She was the youngest of the brood of seven. She was spoiled with attention from her parents, brothers and sisters. But she never became arrogant for theirs was a simple family who tilled the soil for rice planting.
Her family were migrants from Iloilo. They migrated into several places but settled for good in the town of Compostela, Davao del Norte they were pioneers of the place.
And because they lived a very simple life, she was also brought up into a life void of frills and worldliness.
She grew up to be confident of herself never envying her friends who belonged to the landed and upper echelons of the society in Compostela. And this confidence was brought about by the warm and loving atmosphere she received from both of her parents and siblings.
In her high school years, she studied at Assumption Academy of Compostela. She was deemed as an above-average person when it comes to the academic and extra c-curricular field.
An extremely talented person when it comes to performing arts, many people were delighted in seeing her at the operettas, which were considered to be one of the sources of entertainment in those days.
She was never an extremely beautiful person. But her beauty stemmed not from her physical appearance but of the aura she exudes.
A kind of atmosphere surrounds her being, something that is akin to inner beauty. As others would describe, she possesses certainty in herself that seem to reach out into other people.
And because of her personality and good-track record, the sisters of the school she was studying with offered her a scholarship. She undoubtedly accepted because her parents could never afford to support her with college education.
It was in her second year of college that the nuns invited her to join them. It was also at that time that she did her soul-searching. She had a steady and loving boyfriend who was very willing to marry her when they would finish college.
But the call for vocation was so strong that she finally gave in to it. She underwent the stages of becoming a nun.
In her novice years, she experienced a very rigorous process. Together with her fellow novices, they did manual labor. This was to train them into a life of poverty and hard work. But for her, it was never a tough work for she was no longer a stranger of these things.
Then, she progressed into her temporary vows. There, she no longer did tough jobs because she concentrated more in finishing here degree. And when she finished her Bachelor of Arts majoring in English, she then taught in the high school and college department of the Assumption College of Nabunturan.
It was there that she became her true self because of her personality. She knew how to relate with people especially her students. And in return, they treated her with respect and admiration.
Many people would seek her out including priests. She was a very good listener and a very sympathetic friend. They wanted to talk to her because she did not offer and insist on some advices. Instead, she just simply listened.
And some people in her congregation misunderstood her being friendly to those people who seek her out.
It was at that time that she felt her ideals were no longer existent. She saw the real nature of her colleagues, there being human.
She was always asking herself if she should continue her vocation when she could no longer seek out her companions because they were already consumed with intrigue and envy.
With a hostile atmosphere, she felt she could no longer function according to what she vowed to do.
She did soul-searching. But this time, it was thoroughly thought about for she could not just easily give up serving God.
When she weighed her options, it leaned into leading her out of religious life.
So when she really decided to leave the congregation, she underwent a spiritual retreat given to her by a Jesuit priest named Fr. Frank Finster S.J.
When she came into the real world, she decided to continue teaching for she believed that at least, she could still be in serving God through teaching kids.
She applied at the Ateneo de Davao University's branch school which so happened to be near her parents' home.
It was in her stint there that she met someone - an employee of the company who subsidized the Ateneo School where she was teaching.
He was Nicanor Almonte Jr., an electrician who captured her heart. Their romance was not a story woven in fairy tales but a typical one.
Both of them were already in their late twenties. They decided to have a life together on April Fool's Day of 1978.
Their eldest daughter was born to them a year after and a year after the eldest was their second daughter. Five years later, their youngest daughter also came into this world
More than half a decade had passed in her life. She had her fair share of joys and pains.
Now she is alone in raising her three daughters for her husband died in June 17, 1997. At the age of 54, she is juggling two jobs, a teacher in high school during the day and college instructor during night to support her children.
She never fails to provide shelter, food and clothing to her three daughters.
And not once did she show signs of defeat when faced with the storms of life.
She faithfully lived the course of it into the direction where God led her.
When asked where she got her strength, she simply answers in a humble manner, "What I learned while I was still a nun will be imbedded in my mind forever. And that is to never doubt God's will. If you pray to God, He will be in your midst always, guiding you throughout your life, giving you blessings that will be constant source of joy."
Mrs. Susan Abarcar Vda. de Almonte, ex-nun, mother of three. Loving, hardworking and very religious. Epitome of a genuine, loving and caring wife and mother. Survivor, my Idol, My Mom.
POST NOTE: This was written in college for a Journalism Class assignment. I think that was in 1998. She was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer in San Pedro Hospital last February 14, 2009. She is currently into alternative treatment to battle the cancer. I am amazed with her tenacity.