Norma Wakes Up at 5 O’clock in the Morning

She wakes up as early as 5:00 in the morning. While the sky is still dark and everyone is just about to rise from bed, she sits on the sofa and pray with her prayer book. After that, she turns on the WiFi router and plays gospel music from her iPad. As the music plays, she starts to do the household chores.

At 6:00 am, she grabs her iPad andwatch videos on YouTube. She watches anything that interests her from recipes, music videos, and street food of different countries. This is how Norma Ferreras usually starts her day.

She was born September 12, 1951 in Sta. Mesa, Manila. Norma is the fifth child of Vicente Celis, who worked in a textile company, and Dolores Sison, a dressmaker.  She describes her childhood as simple yet fun. She liked playing tumbang preso, piko, patintero, and taguan with her siblings and neighbours. Though they weren’t wealthy, they were able to get by through her parents’ hard work.

Norma spent her first year in college in the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Nursing. Despite performing well, she feared of failing in the next semesters because of the school’s high standards. Hence, she decided to transfer to La Concordia College and graduated in 1973 with a degree in Medical Technology. Her youngest sister Linda, followed her footsteps and decided to take a medical-related program as well.

Every morning, Norma always anticipates calls from abroad especially from Linda, who works as a nurse in California. Her sister frequently calls to get an update about their relatives in the Philippines. It is also her sister’s way to not feel too distant from her family.  They always talk about their other siblings as well as latest update in politics and even show business.


After talking with her sister, Norma goes back to the kitchen. At 11:00 am, she starts to cook lunch. While she waits for the dish to get ready, she snatches the iPad from her husband Willie and either watches recipe videos or chats with her niece Marita.

When she is not around or busy doing something, Willie always sneaks behind her back to use her tablet to watch movies on Netflix or iFlix.  From noon until night, her Apple device is always with her husband but she cannot do anything about it and just settles with the family’s old Samsung tablet.

Norma and Willie first met in 1978 while on their way to their work. Norma was a manager then in a drugstore in Cubao while Willie was working as a production assistant in a hollow block factory in Libis.

Nagkakilala kami sa jeep, kaming dalawa na lang yung naiwan nun. Sa Cubao yun, papasok kami pareho ng trabaho. Magkatapat kami nun, tinanong niya ako kung anong pangalan ko, saan ako nagtatrabaho,” Norma recalled.

After giving her telephone number, Willie started to call her and visit at their home in Serrano Laktaw Street in Quezon City.

Pinagtataguan ko pa nga ‘yan minsan eh kaso sabi sa akin ng ate ko ‘Sige ka, tatanda kang dalaga’.”

While Willie was pursuing her there were other guys who were also trying to get her attention.

“May time nga nagkasabay silang dalawa, yung isa engineer kaso ayaw ni nanay dahil may anak, biyudo. Tapos meron din naman pulis, ayaw din nila,” said Norma.

In the end, Willie and Norma became together. They made their vows not just once but twice.

Yung una secret lang ‘yun, bale civil wedding, Dec. 15, 1980, basta niyaya niya lang ako.  Tapos March 14, 1981 sa simbahan.”

In 1982, she gave birth to her only daughter Via and the following year her second child Von was born. She thought she would only have two children but in 1997, at the age of 46 years, she gave birth to Vince.

“Ayoko na talaga magbuntis nun, kasi suka ako nang suka. Mahirap talaga,” she said.

Now, Via is working as a company researcher in Libis while Von is residing in Texas as a nurse. Her youngest Vince is on his third year in college in the University of Santo Tomas.


At 12 noon, the Ginataang Kalabasa is ready and Willie takes the iPad from her. Norma first tastes the smoking thick, creamy, coconut broth and invites everyone to eat.

After lunch, she lies down on the couch and watches television.  She switches between GMA7 and food channels. At exactly 2:00 pm, she switches to TLC and watch one of her favourite cooking shows the “Cake Boss.”

Cooking has been one of Norma’s interests since she was a kid. She is fond of making her own versions of recipes and experimenting on food.

“Hilig ko talaga yun. Nung maliliit pa kami, may trabaho si nanay at si tatay, inuutusan akong magluto kaya nagustuhan ko na,” she said.

In every occasion, she is expected to be in charge with the food. Norma is known for her Laing, a Bicolano dish that is made with coconut milk with dried taro leaves and vegetables. Her older sister Lilia always asks Norma to cook the dish for her. Norma makes sure to wash and boil carefully the taro leaves in order to remove the itchy sensation while eating it. Then she adds dried fish or daing instead of shrimp for great taste.

When she was still young, she already likes to watch cooking shows and dreaming that one day she would have those kitchen gadgets.

Mahilig ako manood ng cooking show. Ang pinapanood ko pa noon si Nora Daza. Gusto ko mag-bake, gusto kong magkaroon nung mga gadget nila gaya ng mixer,” Norma said.

After watching her favourite show on TLC, Norma turns off the television and switches on their old radio. She lies down again on the sofa and takes a nap.


She wakes up at around 4:00 pm, gets her iPad and watch videos again on YouTube. If not recipes or weird stuff, Norma checks out videos on artworks and crafts.

Aside from cooking, she has also an interest with crafts. Norma’s living room exhibits her arts and crafts. There are four picture frames hanging on the wall showcasing her cross-stitched designs, colourful fruit origamis placed on a basket beside the sofa, and a lantern made of glittered papers with stars dangling on it.

“Elementary pa lang ako gustong-gusto ko na ‘yan. Basta tuwing Home Economics namin, gustong-gusto kong nagugupit ng mga papel,” she said.

Despite being neat and organized at home, one end of their sofa, which she considers her comfort zone, is full of her personal things and “garbage”. There you can find a calculator, her prayer book, notebooks where she writes her recipes, back scratcher, colourful flyers and cartons, and some of her art materials.

Mahilig akong magtago ng basura na pwedeng gawing art,” she added.

Whenever she goes to the mall or market, she gets flyers and turns them into an origami piece or whatever her imagination makes her do.

When her children entered school, she always helped them with their projects. She invested in art materials from boards, pens, coloring materials, to different kinds of art papers.

Every Christmas season, she makes sure to have a theme for her decorations at home. Two months before December, Norma is already looking for and buying Christmas decorations. She visits Divisoria, Dapitan Arcade, or the bazaar in Farmer’s Market to find cheap but beautiful decorations.

Last time, she sported a blue and green motif. She hasn’t still decided on her theme for the year.


At 6pm, she watches news with her family.

When the clock hits 7:30 pm, she eats her dinner.

At around 8pm, Norma grabs the remote control from Willie and switches to GMA News TV.

At 9:30 pm, she tunes into back-to-back episodes of MasterChef US and Australia.

She brushes her teeth, turns off the television, packs her things up, and goes upstairs at 10:30 pm.

Minutes later, she turns on her pocket radio, puts on her earphones, and sleep.

A few hours later she wakes up at around 5:00 am. While the sky is still dark and everyone is just about to rise from bed, she sits down on the sofa and pray with her prayer book. She turns on the WiFi and plays music from her iPad.

(Photo courtesy of






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