Tao of Food Preparation Recipes

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Femininity 7: In The Community

My grandmother playing with an iPad

When I was a teenager, I saw my mom as a housewife in charge of house cleaning, cooking, tending to our needs, and my dad's needs when he was around. This was the feminine role I grew up with. It was interesting to see my mom turned into a female politician in our town one day and we will touch on her story of how that happened.

In the photo above,  seeing my grandmother who was a dressmaker all her life playing with iPad in one of the pictures posted by my cousin in Facebook was also very interesting.

When my father was in the Philippines resting and had no work contract abroad, my mom normally worked as a municipal health counsellor and a teacher. 

She was an accounting student who worked as a maid to the owner of the college where she studied and with the additional support of my dad she graduated the course. There was a shortage of teachers, so our relative who was the principal of the school asked her if she liked to take on the job. She accepted the offer. She became a high school teacher of the nearby school teaching the Filipino language. 

One day, there was a need for candidates to run for public office. The total population of the town where we lived was about 15,000 at that time. It was a small town and not many people graduated college, so my mom was nominated as a candidate for counsellor.  

From having no experience of politics, I was introduced to the world of politics, the Philippine way.

In this blog, I would like to share my experience in seeing my mom - as a feminine, taking on the role of a female politician, getting into politics, and what I have noticed happening around me with regards to other women trying to earn a living in our small town.

My sister and I helped her in her campaign. We distributed flyers and shook peoples's hands. At home, there were always a lot of visitors from my mom's political party ticket plus ordinary people from the community asking her for help. I spent most of my time making coffee for everyone.

During that time, my dad who was usually working abroad, helped print my mom''s flyers for distribution to the public who were voters. I watched her spoke in the community. Most of the candidates were men and I remembered her as the only woman candidate giving her talks even in the remote part of our town - called barrios. 

Her feminine role started from the family and was branching out to the community. This was interesting to watch.

After the tally of votes, she emerged as the winner. She was voted as the first counsellor. 

My experience of myself and my mom changed from a family oriented existence to a public oriented existence - seeing her performing a (feminine and also partly masculine) role in the community which also impacted my life. She was mostly doing her job as a counsellor - in the community, and when she was at home, other people would come and ask her for help - either medical or  financial.

She continued giving talks to crowds after she won the election. I went with her sometimes to attend small events, but sometimes they have big community events where most of the people in the community gather. They usually have music, dancing and food. The event was held in a big hall outside the municipal building. Usually people were invited to dance and partake of the food given during those occasions. 

While walking with my mom to buy something at the market, people greeted my mom and they greeted me too. I felt there were a lot of people who knew her and me and my family after she won the election.

When I went with my mom in her monthly community visits, I noticed that there were a lot of poor people in our town. I was not aware of this before. My life revolved inside the house, outside,  playing with my friends nearby or going to my grandmother's house which was walking distance from where we lived. What I enjoyed most was walking to the beach which was 2 minutes away and taking a dip in the slightly warm water during hot weather then walking back to our house or my grandmother's house to get a 'shower'. 

During walks with my mom, I noticed housewives who lived near us whose main source of income were cooking food items to sell in the school, in the market, or having a store of their own where they sell toys and food. They survived doing those jobs.

Recently, I went to Wikipedia to look at the main income of our town and It turned out the town's main income comes from cooked food. At the economy section, I found out the foods I grew up with

  • Kalamay-hati: A type of coconut jam made from coconut cream and sugar or molasses
  • Maja blanca: A type of coconut pudding
  • Suman: A dessert/snack made of sticky rice and coconut steamed in leaves.
  • Puto: A steamed rice cake.
  • Bagoong: A traditional fish paste made using fresh local/sustainable ingredients.

Somehow, this small town managed to survive with the help of the housewives who cooked and sold the food to earn some income to support their husband's income (who did mostly physical labor kind of work). 

The college graduates (who included my mom) and those with more money, ended up working in the municipality or doing business in neighboring towns, cities or even working abroad.


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