It’s a special day for women tomorrow. As I write this, I am thinking of the women that my Environment, Culture and Society class met a few weeks ago during our fieldwork.
One of these women is Nanay Rosario of Samahang Elgancho, a People’s Organization (PO) in Naic, Cavite. Our class was lucky enough to hear her story of bravery, of going out of her comfort zone, and of encouraging other women to do the same.
According to her, it has been male fisherfolk’s habit to go drinking after each fishing expedition (“inuman”). They hold monthly meetings where each contributes P20 for drinks. This angered the wives since their husbands can contribute to drinking but none for household expenses like rice. Often, too, when money is tight, the men would have no qualms about loaning drinks from the sari-sari store themselves, but would have qualms about loaning rice, thus letting their wives do the loaning.
One day, Nanay Rosario decided to attend these monthly meetings to see what’s going on. She also found herself going with her husband to fishing expeditions, helping her husband with the fish catch. This is on top of her household duties and on top of her income-augmenting activities such as washing clothes for a fee (“labada”) and selling candies, chocolates and fish with her children.
As a member of Elgancho, she attended training by NGOs and joined mobilizations. When she realized that she was the lone woman, she encouraged the other male fisherfolk’s wives to join.
“Kapag may meeting, kapag hindi dumating ang asawa mo, ikaw ang dumalo para masawata natin ang pag-iinom,” she said.
According to Nanay Rosa, they have established a microlending system (“paluwagan”) where they contribute around P20 per month during their monthly meetings. Members use this fund to finance their children’s school expenses, to pay their electricity bills, and for other needs. Their contributions have also enabled them to supply electricity at Aplaya, to organize a sportsfest, and to establish a “bigasan” (rice store).
““Hinihikayat ko po yung mga nanay na huwag kayong manatili sa apat na sulok ng bahay ninyo. Lumabas kayo kasi pagka kayo’y nasa apat ng sulok ng bahay, nababagot kayo,” she added.
More ways Naic women contribute
Other Naic women also help their husbands augment their family income. Some offer laundry services while some peddle food like turon, banana cue, lumpia and rice cakes (“kakanin”). Others engage in livelihood projects taught by the local government such as candle-making. However, since the materials needed to make a candle and other livelihood products require capital which women most of the time don’t have much of, these government-taught alternative livelihoods are left untapped.
Another way that women fisherfolk help their husbands is by preparing their fishing gear before each expedition, cleaning their fish catch, and selling these at the market.
So here’s to the many ways women serve and nurture the family and society! Happy Women’s Day to all!
And do visit the World Food Programme site to learn more amazing trivia about womankind!