LOOKING after the University’s working scholars, Thelma Maraña of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), admits to having 217 children. Statistically impossible? Yes, but not for Maraña, who is the “surrogate-mother” to 217 working scholars.

“You may not believe it, but when I handled this position, I was a mother to all of them,” the 1992 graduate of the College of Education said.

From attending to their needs, listening to their sentiments, and volunteering for development work, Maraña plays adoptive mom to working scholars. With a busy schedule, her working time exceeds her regular work hours.

“It was a challenging work,” Maraña, a mother of two kids, said. “Life has many unexpected occurrences. But having my kids beside me makes everything seem normal.”

With hundreds of scholars she is tasked to look after, she became more conscious of motherhood, especially after she gave birth to her second son, Alfonso.

“I used to worry that I may not be able to have enough time for my kids because of my work load,” she said. “Most especially now that I have a baby who needs me.”

Despite her eight (or even more) hours of work time, Maraña strives to always be there for her sons Andres and Alfonso. So before she leaves home, she makes sure they have performed their family ritual, which is going to her mom’s nearby house to eat their breakfast. Married for six years now, she and her husband, an employee from a non-government organization, have also started saving to prepare for their kids’ future.

“Even though I have a busy schedule, I try to deal with it by spending time with my family morning and night,” she said. “Or using my work time thinking of their well-being.”

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As time went on, Maraña eventually mastered the ropes of “mothering” students. This she owes to the maternal attitude she learned from her own mom.

“The working scholars are all nice,” she said. “We are really open to each other.”

She treats them like real family, loving the scholars as her own. In fact, some of them call her “Nay Thelma.”

One of Marana’s “children” is Christine Castillo, an incoming senior student from the Faculty of Arts and Letters. She is extremely thankful of Marana’s motherly support every time she has conflicts with her work and academics.

“She has been very nice to me,” Castillo said. “She is always there to explain everything whenever I ask for advice.”

With many to call her own, Maraña believes that having many children is all right—as long as the mother is able to meet the demands.

“The mother must be physically and emotionally ready,” she said. Raychel Ria C. Agramon and Rieze Rose T. Calbay

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