Elmo's House
Artist Residency

Batan, Aklan
Philippines

 
Mommy White in her own terms

Mommy White in her own terms

Lifetime Educator
Batan, Aklan
January 2019

Mommy White coined her nickname because she didn't like the sound of Lola (grandma). To be called Lola was ageing and not at all suited for such a vivacious woman. Pointing to her hair one day, she asked her grandson what colour it was, and her new name stayed from then on.

What began as an alternative name for her grandkids to use, became her brand embraced by former students, colleagues and friends alike. In associating her name with her distinguished crown, one must acknowledge all that she has attained during her full and driven life. Many dye their hair to look younger, but Mommy White celebrates the wisdom. She has certainly earned every strand of alabaster.

During her tenure, Mommy White has amassed countless titles, accreditations and honours, though one can reason Mommy White supersedes all the titles she has ever held, commanding both respect and affection at once.

 
 
 
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Mommy White retired as Division Superintendent of Department of Education in Aklan. Shortly after, Mommy White was awarded the Outstanding Aklanon award, through the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), for her immense contributions in Education.

To this day, she teaches Contemporary World class at the Batan Integrated College of Technology and continues to shape and guide the lives of her students. Mommy White is a staple presence in town events and is often requested to judge the many school run competitions. She is involved in several clubs and is active in community-driven initatives.

 
 
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I first met Mommy White or more formally Dr. Victorina S. Laroza, at BRIC's (Batan Rural Improvement Club) 7th-anniversary celebration and then more intimately during the Ati-Ati Festival earlier this year. With grace, Mommy White gave me a tour of her home upon our second meeting, which I was more than happy to see. A modest two storey house near the market, it has an unassuming front gate which revealed nothing of the magic just beyond.

 
 

A modest two storey house near the market, it has an unassuming front gate which revealed nothing of the magic just beyond.

 
 

To experience Mommy White's beautiful home, decorated with the material catalogue of artworks, keepsakes, and antiques, is to glimpse the inner workings of this fascinating woman. Each room is entirely reflective of her personality - fearless and sentimental, independent and infinitely generous. Mommy White is a champion of local arts and indigenous crafts, ferocious learner of anything under the sun, and a lifetime supporter of her students.

 
 
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From our conversation, it was difficult to grasp the scope of her accomplishments and the impact of her work; her rapid-fire account of things didn't help. But it is all there - laid out, hung on walls, propped and layered on the shelves and closets, on coffee tables and chairs. It is an incredible collection, with each object like a portal to another time. Mommy White has curated each room in style all her own, in precise order and rhythm, ready to be engaged and activated by a single query.

When I requested an informal interview with Mommy White, it was because I wanted to understand the architect that built such a life. But it is no quick work, to wade such depths. This article will have to suit as a primary and the pictures merely a guide.

We can all hope to keep up with Mommy White someday.

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