‘Being a single parent is my most cherished role’ -Ellen Lising
If there is one thing that Ellen Lising is proud of is that she has lived an interesting life. Hers may not be picture-perfect but she is proud to say that she is the embodiment of a survivor. Aside from being the owner of Ellen’s Aesthetic Clinics, being a single parent is her most cherished role and one which she continues to play until this day.
When the issue about single parents spread in the news and social media, Ellen, a grandmother of eight, is aware of the uproar (she is an active social media user) as she is a single parent herself. However, she is not quick to condemn “because he (the Senator) doesn’t understand how it is to be a single mom. If he knew how it is to be one, then he might have kneeled before all of us.” Ellen says that with a hearty laugh and a confidence shaped by time and wisdom.
While hers was not a Cinderella story, Ellen recalls being doe-eyed when her late ex-husband, Bonifacio C. Go, walked her down the aisle in 1979. She remembers vividly the simple wedding ceremony and how they both looked at each other lovingly each time she gave birth to their children—Joy, Janice, Jezel, and Jasper.`
She didn’t mind how she was kept, literally, at home to tend to the kids and their store business which was right downstairs of their two-storey home. Yet, like a scene from a TV drama, her world took a spin when she noticed her husband’s philandering pursuits. The man she married, and who promised her the world, had become an entirely different being.
“My husband’s poultry business and chicken farm progressed very well that his once quiet enterprise became a profitable venture. But with the increase in wealth came a change in his demeanor. Nagkaroon siya ng mga bisyo (He started to have vices). He was, suddenly, cruel to me and our kids,” she recalls.
What she feared the most became a reality. The emotional abuse began and Ellen started to hear derogatory words from him. Then came the physical abuse.
“It was in 1993 when my ordeal started. But I kept them all to myself. I was raised to believe it was a woman’s role to keep her family intact. I took his abuse as long as he did not harm the kids. He would strangle me, leaving me gasping for breath but I kept the charade for two more years until he started hurting my children physically and emotionally,” says Ellen with tears in her eyes.
Ellen recalls one very sad and emotional Mother’s Day, when daughter Janice wrote her a note asking why she did not rescue her when her father was whipping her.
“She blamed me for not fighting back. I reassured her with my love and told her that if I fought back with his father back when it happened, he might have caused more damage. In moments of rage, he would randomly pick up things and throw them. While he did not throw objects directly at the kids, they would cower and shiver from fear at his sight. When they would hear him coming home, they would scamper and hide in the cabinets,” she recounts.
Amidst the ordeal, Ellen knew she had to stay strong for the sake of her children. But her tolerance only emboldened her husband to continue his philandering ways.
“To make matters worse, she brought her mistress to stay in the same compound where we lived. It was then that I decided that I’ve had it, officially. This was not a good environment for my growing children. I vowed to protect my children. I did not want them to be maltreated ever again!” she says with conviction, revealing that it was that moment when she finally left her husband.
Not looking back, she did not bring anything except her “name”. Like Tina Turner, Ellen held on to her name as it is also the brand name of her small yet thriving beauty shop. She did not wallow in depression, as “there was no time for me to show weakness as I have children to feed and raise.”
From a life of luxury, it was back to basics. They had to forego some comforts in life. She was adamant that she will not ask for any support from her husband. Ellen even returned the money that he sent to them.
“When I finally left, my love and affection for him was gone. I moved on from that point onwards. After a year, I no longer cried; it was as if my tears have dried up. I felt indifferent,” she reveals. At that point, she concentrated in expanding Ellen’s clinics and establishing her brand as a reliable place for cosmetic treatments and skin care. Lady Luck smiled on her and business boomed. Today, Ellen’s Aesthetics Center branches are found not only in Metro Manila (soon to be in BGC) but also in the provinces such as Tarlac, Angeles City, Cebu, among others. Her cosmetic products are now also available online via Shopee (shopee.ph).
Being a businesswoman is hard, according to Ellen, but being a single parent is immensely harder.
“I believe business is a matter of luck and timing. But what posed a challenge for me was raising my children to become responsible individuals. Being a mom doesn’t end even if your children have families of their own. Mahirap talaga maging solo na magulang subalit ang Diyos ang gabay ko. (Solo parenting is hard but I look to God for guidance). Playing the role of both mother and father, all of a sudden, feels very overwhelming. There were trying times when I wanted a shoulder to cry on especially when my mother and father passed away a year apart. They loved each other so dearly that they never wanted to be apart. So I had to stand bravely on my own two feet,” she says.
Borrowing from Barry Manilow’s song “I Made it Through the Rain,” Ellen takes pride in being a single mom and echoes her sentiment with others who, like her, have “been rained on yet made it through.”
At 63 years old, Ellen still radiates a youthful vibe that her friends and customers do not notice the “battle scars”—that she endured being a battered wife, the years of toiling for 12 hours a day just to build a reputable company, and the 24/7 business of being a mom (and grandma) to a growing family.
“Thirty eight years of entrepreneurial success have humbled me and I thank the Lord every day for all His blessings. Whatever your career is, love it and have your heart in it. Never bring your troubles to work and always strive to be an inspiration to others. The secret to happiness is to be contented with who you are and what your station in life is,” says Ellen.
Ellen has “made it through the rain” and has closed the chapter with her husband before he passed away in 2013. She and her children have already forgiven him.
Though Ellen professes to be a “homebody who is happy watching television,” she has the joie de vivre that she is reconsidering the possibility of “getting married for companionship, as I usually don’t have someone with me when I visit romantic places.” But she says that, once again, with a hearty laugh. She—who is a ‘Mader’ to her kids and her staff—is truly a survivor in this battle called life.
Ellen’s words of Wisdom
- “Always have faith! Surrender all your sufferings and woes to a Higher Being.”
- “Be an inspiration to your children. Have a career but your family should never take the backseat. Make your endeavors worthwhile and the source of pride for yourself, your family, and others.”
- “Be a good example to your children: Walk the talk! Always be at home at night so your kids will have an ear to air their problems, or they may go astray, seeking compassion from peers. Remember that you are both mother and father.”
- Single moms should have a career as a back-up to protect the well-being of her family. Do not rely on other people for your family’s sustenance.”
- “I’ve always taught my children to love all the little people and respect them, especially my clinic staff because they are my family as well. After all, your personnel will always be your ‘aces.’
- “Reserve time for serious one-on-one talks, especially during moments that call for it. Gaining your kids’ trust allows them to tell you their stories, good or bad. You should allow your sons to connect with their father as there are things only dads can teach their sons.”
- “Sundays should always be family time. My priority has always been my children. Playing the role of a single parent, in being a mom, takes up 20 percent of this life-long pursuit. The other 80 percent is me being their close friend and barkada.”