Sequel to Women, Mother-Farmers


Last week, Ah Kong penned an article titled, “CAR, Region 1’s ‘Invisible’ Women Farmers,” and described by many as “interestingly, others as “serious and thought-provoking,” some as “inspiring,” and still others as “provocative, for the month of March.

Interestingly enough, the readers said that it is quite true that a lot of Filipinos “take for granted the women engaged in agriculture,” or “they don’t see them at all.”

Curiously though, said readers also want Ah Kong to pen notes presenting a lighter mood for the women to capture what they say is, “women can be serious when time calls for it or can be prankishly gleeful, if only to spite the men.”

For they said “women can be humorous, if they want to,” contradicting the oft-said notion that “women have no humor at all.

Indeed, for as the highlanders have already known for ages, as woman, as well as man, has been endowed with this excellent gift from the god Lumawig or Kabunyan, and that the gift pertains to the large, generous, sympathetic nature, quite irrespective of the individual’s sex.

In any case, having heard repeatedly so many times that woman has no sense of humor, it would be refreshing to have a contrariety of opinion on the subject.

To a lighter reading then, as requested.  But before that, unfortunately, Ah Kong missed out, in last week’s column, the defining thoughts of Gina Dizon from Sagada, Mountain Province, regarding role of women in the Philippines and, in particular, in the highland cultural setting.

At this present age, it’s about time that all should perceive gender on a scope not as two opposing sets of ideas.

Dizon locked on to this value when she said last week: “We continue to create a culture of respect and oneness. That despite biophysical differences, men and women are created equal in the image of God, in the face of society and government, in the ways of culture, distinct but complimentary.”

Pages of history abound with records of maternal love in every clime and age and in every rank of life. It’s in fact a never-ending presence. But if you are to capture a sweet portrait of a woman-mother after birth, what easily comes to mind is a lady holding her baby, even as she looks hard-pressed.

Which Dizon aptly described when she noted, “Of prime distinction where the women give birth demanding recognition of care as she slowly regains her energy.”

A sage of old once explained to Ah Kong that a name of a mother is every child’s talisman, every child’s refuge or safehouse whenever in misery. Indeed, the words “ma-ma” are the first half-formed words   that spring forth from the babbling tongue of a baby. Or maybe the first idea that dawns upon a toddler’s mind.

And that sage went on to press that, that idea of the baby is the fondest and most lasting tie in which affection can bind the heart of a human being.

On the other hand, the love of a father is as deep and sincere. But such love is calmer and more calculating. Or more fully directed in the great periods and ends of life.

And such may not compare with the minutiae of affection, those watchful cares for the minor comforts and gratifications of existence, which a mother, from the finer sensibilities of her nature, can more readily impart.

Yet these varying kindness of man and woman to their child is a bond of human union that can’t be severed even when parents have grown gray hairs.

And Gina Dizon dwelt on this bond of human union when she said, “Men who are by nature built physically stronger than women. Amid all others, men and women are equal, act feel and excel, complimenting and supporting the other for their individual and family interest, community and national development.”

Now, back to lighter reading as requested. Let us taste some of women’s wit and humor. It’s not only men who can flash a humor or two. For they say, it takes two to complete the word, d-a-n-c-e.

While the wit of men, is subject of admiration and discussion, the wit of women has been utterly ignored or unrecognized.

Once in a while, there is in their souls a sense of delicacy mingled with that rarest of qualities in a woman – a sense of humor. Here, we have tried to “harvest” some   witty thoughts of women in salute to women’s month.

Ah Kong remembers a female- friend, Lala Comedes, who related about a couple in Cordillera who got into a domestic spat and refused to talk to each other, except communicate through txt. This husband and wife were teachers and PhD holders.

As their silent war raged, the husband, texted his wife which said:  God saw me hungry and he created camote; he saw me thirsty and he created tapey (rice wine). He saw me in the dark and he created light. He saw me without problems and he created YOU.

Not to be outdone, the irate wife responded: “I wrote your name in the waters of Chico River and it got washed away; I wrote your name in the Cordillera winds and it got blown. Then I wrote your name in my heart and I got myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Now, here’s Sofia Durcel, pretty mestiza-Igorota who believes that any jealous woman, for that matter, does better research and investigation than the National Bureau of Investigation or the Philippine National Police.

Durcel also added that if only women ruled world politics, there will be no world wars. None at all! There will only be a bunch of jealous countries yelling and outtalking each other.

Jamela Cauyan from Region 1, a mother, said that she like to know what is the proper function of women, if not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home, and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.

Way back in 2018, Olga Mosingkay, Cordilleran mother, prepared for her son’s the wedding. Busy with the preparation and knowing she’d soon “lose” her son, she looked at Ah Kong, ruefully shook her head and said, “It takes a mother twenty years or so to make a real man out of her son. And it takes another woman only days to make a fool out of him.” Then she laughed so hard she had to sit down.

There is this time in the life of every single man when he thought that a lady smiling coyly at him, liked him. In fact, it’s the opposite. It happened many times to Ah Kong during his wondering, young days.

Those times he approached those smiling ladies to introduce himself, those ladies turned their backs on him. It got irritating so, he complained to a good neighbor, Dolores Paliswan.

Ah Kong still remembers Dolores’s word: “Ayna Bony, kasla di mo ammo nga women ket isuda ti God’s miracle of complete contradictions.”   Dolores married, bore children, became an OFW, but has returned to the Cordillera.

Way back in 2017, on his way at Halsema National Highway in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), near Atok, Benguet, Ah Kong, on foot, trudged towards La Trinidad. Along the way, a matron hailed and joined him in the trudge.

The woman was going home, apparently tired working in the fields. “Ma’am, nabannog kayo ti trabaho, madlaw ko,” Ah Kong enjoined.

The middle-aged lady laughed heartily and responded, “Wen, ngem siak ket panagkitak ket namnama. Ag-isem ak ti lubong nga saan maikumpara iti sangit ko.” (Yes, But I am optimistic.  I smile at a world that is not worth my tears).

For that lady taught this wanderlust columnist the agreeable sentiment of going through life with hope, expecting something better, no matter what one is possessed of so little. As at some turn of the road, our questions of the riddles of the world can still be answered.

We have always heard of the phrase, “familiarity breeds contempt.” But there was a lady, named Barbara Daluiges, a lowlander, whom Ah Kong met a long time ago when he was still in government service. And they became friends.

One time, while visiting at the government office where he worked, Daluiges said to  Ah Kong, “If familiarity breeds contempt, I rejoice in the fact that familiarity and friendship breed CONTENT.”