Thank you to the ibu (mother) Robin Lims of the world

FILIPINOS can learn a lot from Robin Lim, the Filipino-American midwife who earned the highest respect and votes of people from around the globe (mostly from internet-savvy Filipinos who voted through online sites Twitter and Facebook) making her the Cable News Network’s (CNN) Hero of 2011.

Ibu (Mother) Robin, as she is affectionately called by people in her Indonesia-based non-profit foundation, realized that something good can come out of tragedy only if people use the experience to help and empower others who are weighed down by similar circumstances. Though utterly distraught upon personally experiencing three tragedies—the deaths of a pregnant sister and the baby from childbirth complications in the United States, of a pregnant best friend, and of the midwife who assisted her during childbirth—this mother of eight developed a passion to help women and their babies, eventually establishing in 2003 the Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation).

The clinics, manned by skilled birth attendants, help poverty-stricken women experience healthy pregnancy and provide free pre-natal, birth and other health services.

What struck me the most about Robin when I personally encountered her was the manner by which she demonstrated deep respect and affection for people. At the Senate President’s rostrum in the session hall where she was called to receive her citation for Senate Proposed Resolution No. 764 lauding her for being named CNN’s Hero for 2011, Robin was congratulated almost all at the same time by senators who followed her to the rostrum to present to her the Senate citation.

Since  it was Senator Loren Legarda who first conversed with her, Robin focused her attention and maintained eye contact with the lady senator, glancing only occasionally at Senate President Enrile who was talking to her at the same time.

Only after ending her small talk with Senator Legarda did Robin give the elder statesman her undivided attention and affection.

Upon descending the rostrum after the brief ceremony, Robin again approached Senator Pia Cayetano to bid farewell and embraced the latter tightly for a few seconds, eyes closed as if saying goodbye for the last time.  While witnessing this, I was getting a little embarrassed upon realizing that I greet people only casually most of the time, even forgetting their names immediately after they are introduced to me.

While Asians are somehow excused for feeling a little awkward with greetings involving physical contact, unaccustomed even as to respond to a proffered handshake, I have witnessed from Robin how endearing and beautiful to the nurturing midwives the world over especially those who provide the poorest of mothers with prenatal and postpartum care, we honor you on this day of mothers!

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