Dahlia Rivera-Supnad is a bubbly, outgoing Bacolod mom known for her online business, Bags R Us. During the lockdown for Covid-19, their family felt a different blow—her husband was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. Read more about their tough journey as well as her message of hope to all Filipinos in the light of the pandemic.
UPDATE: Fafi passed away early in the morning of August 20, 2020. Our deepest sympathies goes to the Supnad family, especially Mamu Dahlia.
Tried and Tested Love Story
Dahlia, a strong and resilient woman, has been together with husband Ahbong (a.k.a. Fafi) for 31 years now. They are blessed with three children, Nica (30), Antonio (25), and Tonee (22)—the baby of the family.
Antonio and Tonee lived with them and they had a pretty good but hectic family life. They were also a homeschooling family while in Singapore. That worked well for them and they grew closer than ever.
It’s just that life is fast and demanding abroad , so Mamu and Fafi have to keep working. Tonee relates that she was getting tired of their faces already because they stayed at home most of the time.
But Dahlia, who many call Mamu, became terribly ill in Singapore. She had acute pancreatitis and laid in the ICU for months. She was only 39 years old back then. Nearly at death’s door, her husband Fafi and daughter Tonee were the ones who constantly stayed by her side. She recalls that Tonee lived in the hospital for two months, constantly holding Mamu’s arm.
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On the third month, Dahlia woke up – 20 kilograms lighter and full of gratitude for her second life.
But the happy story pauses there, as her hospitalization bills reached SG$100,000. It racked up debts for them. It was only with the help of PINOYSG and fellow kababayans that they were able to pay the bills when Mamu was discharged.
Here’s a video of Mamu and Tonee’s mother and daughter bonding vacation to the Philippines after she got better. They did not tell their families back home what Dahlia she went through in Singapore. Selfless, they didn’t want their families to worry about them.
Permanent Residents of Singapore
Mamu Dahlia worked as a CAD designer while Fafi Ahbong was a chef in Singapore. They were earning pretty well in the Lion City so their combined income made it easy for them to be granted Singapore PR status.
They enjoyed the good life while being active in the Filipino community there. Additionally, they were ever-present when there were charity events that could help fellow Filipinos.
But Mamu’s pancreatitis really depleted their savings as well as their Central Provident Fund (CPF). They were also behind on their mortgage. Moreover, Fafi was diagnosed with a fatty liver. Stress and their lifestyle were affecting their health already.
Balikbayans Stage a Comeback
So the family decided to come back to the Philippines and semi-retire in Bacolod City. Being a chef, Fafi Ahbong put up a restobar named Fafi’s, specializing in well-loved Singaporean cuisine. They also served other Asian dishes. Children Antonio and Tonee helped them so it was a family enterprise.
Meanwhile, Mamu kept selling bags and other stuff online. She describes herself as, “not marikit, but maraket.” It simply means that she may not be gorgeous or exquisite in beauty, but she knows her way around this world in order to survive. As a Bacolod mompreneur, her side hustles helped augment their family budget as they settled comfortably in semi-retirement.
All was well, even though they had to eventually close Fafi’s Restobar because of the rising cost of rent.
Online Selling and Barter Got Them Through
When Covid-19 and the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) happened, Mamu kept selling. Additionally, she joined in the barter craze that was born out of the pandemic.
She had a lot of stocks that she could let go so she exchanged them for necessities as well dog supplies. Yes, they have pets, too. That kept them from going out so much to get supplies to ensure that they stay at home safely. With Fafi’s condition, they could not afford to be lackadaisical about their safety.
That’s why barter is such a blessing to many Bacolod families.
Covid-19 and Liver Cirrhosis
Meanwhile, Fafi, who often had his portion of alcohol every night, had to stop drinking because of the liquor ban. This took effect along with the ECQ, as mandated by the government. It was a blessing in disguise because after all, drinking is a bad habit and Fafi really needed to quit.
Despite the rest because of the lockdown as well as abstaining from alcohol, Fafi was constantly losing weight. He was also beginning to feel pains in his mid-section so they decided to go have him checked.
And a brutal news was revealed to them—Fafi has liver cirrhosis and he is only 53 years old. It was already bad but he could still have quality years with his family with proper medication and lifestyle changes.
The problem was, it was not easy to get by during the lockdown. There was limited mobility, many stores were closed, stocks and medicine supplies were low, and there was a viral threat. And even after the lockdown, the threat of Covid-19 still continues. With Fafi’s worsening liver condition, his immunity is compromised so he is considered a high-risk person to contract viruses. It could be fatal.
They have to protect Fafi while looking for ways to provide for the family’s daily needs. Plus, they have to source out Fafi’s medication and liver supplements.
With her three kids losing jobs during quarantine, what did Mamu Dahlia do?
Being Strong for Fafi and the Family
Despite all the health and financial challenges going their way, Mamu remains steadfast and cheerful. She is not letting her circumstances get to her, remaining strong for Fafi so he will not also lose hope. Additionally, she needs all her strength and determination in order to keep the family together and afloat.
They have let go of their house because of the amortization and so they could move to a more affordable one. To facilitate the house transfer, she continued to let go of their stuff at affordable prices. That kept them from packing so much stuff while at the same time providing for their miscellaneous expenses.
At present, she continues with her online selling as well as bartering. Through the Bacolod Barter Community, she has made new friends and many have provided her with the liver supplements that Fafi needed.
And the battle continues.
When you check her Facebook photos, many personal and event photos are tagged. Her personal uploads are mostly her paninda.
What amazes me about Mamu Dahlia is her positive attitude. Despite her family’s situation as well as that of the world because of Covid-19, she remains optimistic. Her indomitable spirit is encouraging as well as infectious. She also thinks very fast and acts on plans immediately in order to save her family. And above all, she does that in style. What a stylish and resilient Pinay mom!
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Not Losing Hope
I am giving way to Mamu Dahlia’s message to her friends on Facebook. Re-posting this because I was honestly encouraged by her grit and perseverance. Despite the hardships of life, this Bacolod mom has never given up the fight. She continues to live, be happy, and hopeful – whatever circumstances she might be in.
It is my sincere hope that you, too, will be encouraged with her story.
Dahlia’s Heartfelt Message
“To all my friends who feel depressed during this Pandemic….
When the pandemic started, my 3 kids don’t have work… My husband was diagnosed with liver Cirrhosis, we can’t pay our house loan, our utilities, our utang…. Worst no more money in the bank.
Our only means is selling online.
I sold some of my unwanted stuff especially branded bags.
I sold anything, from bags to masks even dried fish.
We survived the Quarantine stage by merely selling online.
Husband’s medicine costs ₱1000/day excluding his food supplements.
Please don’t let stress and depression take over your life especially this Pandemic.
Don’t say WE DON’T HAVE CHOICE.
We have been given the right to CHOOSE.
We all have a CHOICE.
To do something or to sit down and wait.
There is saying “DO YOUR BEST AND GOD WILL DO THE REST”
It simply mean, DO SOMETHING, DON’T WAIT FOR ANYTHING to happen.”~Mamu Dahlia
Do You Want to Help
Are you in a position to extend help to the Supnads of Bacolod City? You may send them cash, as Fafi still needs a CT-Scan and biopsy that they could not afford.
Or you may send them your excess liver supplements. You can drop them off or mail them to me at:
Maria Sigrid Lo
c/o Wilmar Enterprises
Narra Avenue, Shopping, Villamonte
Bacolod City 6100
Thank you very much for all your help!
Stories About Resilient Pinay Moms
Meanwhile, here are some more stories of resilient moms related to Covid-19.
- Mommy Cleth and her Homemade Kare-Kare with Love
- Prudent Quarantine Birthday Ideas for Pinoy Families | Covid-19 Crisis
- How a Bacolod Mom Changed the Philippines with Barter
- Mommy Power: The House that Barter Built
- Tips for a Successful Barter Experience
- Bacolod Mompreneurs Distribute the M2 Health Drink in NIR