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Last Saturday, Ah Kong found himself mid noon at Ambalite Bridge in Pugo, La Union where he attended to some formal matters.
He then began walking the more than one kilometer stretch leading to Rosario Municipality where there, he hoped to catch a Baguio-bound bus.
Along the way, his curiosity was aroused when he spotted a lady doing welding work in one of the houses near the highway. He watched.
His curiosity getting the better of him he went near the lady, introduced himself and asked, “Ading, saan mo kuma nga dakesen ti panagsaludsud ko, ngem damagek kuma, nu nag-adalam nga ag-welding.”
The petite lady removed the welding mask that was resting on her head, looked at Ah for some moments and said, “Manong, inadal ko nag-welding idi adda ak idiay Ilocos Norte napalabas nga duwa nga tawen.”
Introducing each other’s names, she is Zurlita Natibug, Zurlita said she got interested in learning welding because of the program of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and she explained she earned her certificate in Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), a short TESDA Course.
TESDA trains anybody on SMAW, that’s welding carbon steel plate pipes component as specified by layouts, blueprints, diagrams or work order.
Becoming friends, Zurlita said after learning welding, many in communities where she stayed in Ilocos Norte and in La Union always called her regularly to do welding jobs, as housewives in households where she worked were comfortable with Zurlita being with them when these housewives were alone, instead of deploying men welders in their homes.
For Zurlita, it was a satisfying and compensating job, compared to other jobs before that she held as carrot washer in La Trinidad, Benguet and dishwasher in restaurants in Baguio City.
Leaving Zurlita, Ah came to the conclusion that nowadays, many females in the lowlands and in highland Cordillera were making good in many jobs once labelled “for men only,” thanks to TESDA.
By nature, women in general, are deemed endowed with certain attitudinal attributes that make them highly competitive with male creatures. Although many pesky men reluctantly admit this.
This kernel of truth forces these pesky and reluctant males, like Ah Kong, to adamantly blurt: “Like what, for example?” (As the Mehicanos in Mexico say, Quein sabe?).
What Ah and other pesky men out there don’t realize is, women having certain attitudinal attributes point to a raw fact of them being entrusted with some blessed talents of driving to the fore major resources from individuals.
In our families, women are mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and “tsismosa” in the neighborhood. But if we focus deeply, we find that in major roles they play, why, they are born “managers.”
They manage the family, the household, the children and cultivate the best resources in them while keeping a sharp eye on erring husbands who have that natural tendency of following errant and forked roads.
Now, let’s delve on women attribute that make them competitive with male creatures. Well, for starters, in various trades dominated by highly-skilled male workers, a number of women in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and in Region 1 are successfully collapsing the barriers.
Technical jobs like welding, for example.
His thoughts about Zurlita, TESDA and women ended when he reached Rosario where he hailed a Baguio-bound bus. Nearing Baguio, he stopped at Tuba Junction and caught a jeep going to the city.
He alighted near Burnham Park, crossed towards Session Road and was walking along the sidewalk of Malcolm Square when he was hailed by a group of barangay captains seated at the park.
He went over to where the elected officials were seated exchanged greetings, bantered and pestered each other what new news to ponder on.
As their talks progressed, Ah got the meat of the drift of the barangay captains talk by the way they expressed their oration to themselves: that t’was evident many of them harbored an elusive dream of one day making it to the big stage by being voted into office one step higher than what they are holding.
In a nutshell, such an elusive dream of said barangay captains is summed by what they explained to ah as, “Kayang-kayaka mi met a nga agsarita idiay intablada iti sangangu ti kaaduwan ta ibaga mi ti plataporma mi.” (Very easy for us to speak on-stage in front of a throng to announce to all and sundry, our platforms).
Ah teased them, “Maybe one among you would like to run as Baguio City councilor, comfortably seated on a swivel chair at the City Council, or run as Vice-Mayor and challenge my friend, Faustino Olowan or even wrest the seat of my other friend, Benjamin Magalong?”
In response, the barangay captains joked back and said, “Who knows?”
Ah, condescendingly replied, “Saan met piman nga dakes ti agtag-tagainep. Ket nu adda balak yu nga agnga-ya-ngay a politician nu umay nga election ket tartarimnen yu tapnu maka-addu kayo to agbotos kadakayo.”
Yea, who knows! Quien sabe, indeed! Just like what our mothers used to croon to us before our young days when we pestered them and asked whether we’d be “pogi” or “maganda,” in the future and our mothers replied by singing, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera. . . “then sternly admonished us to go was the dishes we used instead and not dwell on too much to fantasy.
As for the barangay friends of Ah, well, the sooner a man exhibits his intentions, the better.
For there is probably no ambition more generally diffused in the bosom of those having been elected into office than the wish to become at one time or another an orator who can sway the crowd into his/her favor so that voters will vote for such speaker to a higher position.
Ah, who has no talent for eloquence, told his seated friends many indulge of some day dream of imagination conjuring up scenes where the fate of a barangay hangs on their eloquent lips and is guided by their acts.
As for Ah and others out there who are not politically-inclined, we don’t conjure scenes where fate of a barangay hangs on eloquent lips, but in everyday life, there appears no weed so luxuriant, as everyday oratory.
Setting aside political talks, the group watched the crowd flow in and out of Malcolm Square, even those already seated at the Square.
Then Ah espied a couple nearby, maybe in the early thirties. The male was handing over a wrapped gift to the female. As the female raised the gift to shake it, Ah saw the wrapper depicting a happy couple and encircled with bells and years embellished in the bells.
Hmmmm, Ah nodded to himself. It’s nearing Valentine’s Day and this Saturday could probably be the female’s birthday. Ah saw the lady open the gift and looked inside the box. Then her face fell. Apparently she seemed not satisfied with the gift for she smiled half-heartedly.
Seeing the countenance of the lady at Malcolm Square forced Ah to remember of the time an old man of great wisdom said to him, “Ah, when you accumulate the understanding to know why a cake is made round, to be put in a square box if you buy it in a bakery and eaten by cutting the cake in triangles with a bread knife, then my son, Ah, you will be able to understand women!”
But seeing the couple brighten up again after the gift episode, Ah stood up, bid adieu to his seated friends and steered for home, where, for February’s Valentine, is where the heart is, and will always be.