Archive for May 2008

iron women in speed races

May 13, 2008

the movies Iron Man and Speed Racer led me to think of all the women who would qualify as better iron beings in races that parallel speed racing.. but first, beware of being entertained by these movies. ed and i really enjoyed watching Iron Man. we saw this movie while waiting for our daughter ayen in a concert in greenhills.

the plot is about Tony Stark, a genius with machines and is a manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction. he inherited a vast empire and is flaunted as a techno-wizard , having the gift of making machines that decimates enemies. this character is edgy and played well by downey. he gambles and plays with women. he has no family and has only one assistant, a woman who organizes everything he needs and wants, like a super secretary who anticipates his every move. like Batman , the hero is an orphan and has tremendous wealth including a basement with the latest information technology. unlike Batman, tony stark becomes the Iron man only after he is captured by afghan rebels and is tortured. he is helped by a doctor who modifies his heart and attached it to a car battery to prevent sharpnels from entering it. while under captivity, he is forced to make a missile but instead transform his heart into a mini-nuclear reactor. he manages to make himself an iron shield and become a weapon, escape from the rebels and then be rescued by the US air force. tony stark announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons and this enrages his lifetime mentor ( who turns out to be his own nemesis). tony then decides to build a better iron man in his own home while appearing to be at rest from the trauma of captivity. the story is actually one of greed and betrayal. his father’s best friend and his mentor was the one who planned his murder in his bid to take over the company. tony stark realizes it only after having his mentor attack him in his own home. but being the hero, tony stark gets to fight his mentor and wins. what the movie does is show a man whose intelligence is limited to machines and poor in judging characters. his lady assistant Pepper could be the better character since she knows everything there is to know about his work and can go inside his head and heart. but she is given a minor role. only the US air force colonel gets a better mileage in tony stark’s limited circle of trusted people ( only three persons).

i like the movie for its vocational value – teach the youth to work with their hands and build machines in their own workshops. better, survive the desert by using all available machine parts to build impressive robots and shields.

now let us we switch movies and go to Speed Racer. this is a general patronage movie and i brought ayen, angela and jocelyn to watch it on Mothers’ Day. the movie is part cartoon, like disney movies and part super effects – like 300 Sparta. but the emphasis is still what the youth wants – SPEED and excitement. the one thing i notices it the family participation in the speed racing. Speed Racer is the hero of the movie. like tony stark, he is a child genius and has been dreaming, drawing, breathing as a speed racer from the age when he can walk and talk. his family owns a garage and makes formula cars. his brother Rex used to be the champion racer but died while in a race. his own dream is to enter the grand prix and make the new record. i wont go into the storyline since i think the youth will see this movie. what i want to stress is that the movie shows the family as fighting a corporate giant and winning the race because he learns to be the man he should be. the movie shows all kinds of colours and your eyes spin with all the rollercoaster rides you are brought to experience. it is like entering a kaleidoscope and experiencing LSD without the drug. i watched ayen and angel during the movie if they would puke with all the effects. they didnt go dizzy and laughed so loud. i often closed my eyes during the blast of electric colours and had my legs tucked beneath my seat. it is a movie targetting the young. i think the family will continue to patronize these type of movies because it is aggressively entertaining.

well, to close, what will i say? we are iron women running speed races. we take on the world with its greed and betrayal. we fight people who steal and plunder our commons. we build machines in our kitchens and cook meals three times a day to feed the world. we run all the races our family is involved in – living, working, loving. we should be starkly mad for entering races every time we wake up and rise from the sleep.

after all, where will all the life be on this world if not for our genius? happy mother’s day to all.


60 years of luving & raising a family

May 6, 2008

this 8th of may 2008, my mother Nene and father Cesar will be celebrating 60 years of married life together. we plan to have the celebration on july 5 so everyone can join us,especially our siblings in the US. i am awed by six decades of their lifelong love. i wish i can live that long with ed but am already 57 and ed is turning 65. if we count our married life to 28 years, we need 32 years together to reach this 60th milestone. that’s something to look forward to but i dont want to press God to get us living beyond what we can allow our bodies and hearts to bear… but how and what does it take to be married for 60 years and be faithfully loving and committed ?

intimacy and commitment are at the core of my parents’ love. this commitment to be together is a lot of energy and they give this love daily to each other. i see them waking up early at 4 am and help each other prepare for a 6 am mass. they have breakfast and go to work at 7 am. until my mother had a stroke in 2003, she would go to school with my father. my father never stopped teaching in Enverga university until last week when his emeritus status as dean was celebrated by the whole university. he started teaching in 1948 and this year 2008 we all honored his teaching contribution to the university and the city – six decades as a teacher! but i should stress that my mother, a teacher herself, made it possible for my father to work for 60 years. she managed all his schedules and served as the life events manager.

what does lifelong loving entail ? i will answer this from the stories and reflections i gathered from my parents, from my siblings and the communities my parents cultivated.

my father saw my mother when she was only 11 years old. he was barely 17 and found her very beautiful. he did not court her then but remembered her face which has not fully blossomed into a young woman. in 1943, the war started and many girls had to go into hiding to escape the japanese soldiers. nene went into hiding in tagbakin hills with her parents. cesar was recruited as a soldier while he was still in UP los banos. he was assigned to defend the towns from pagbilao to atimonan. in the tagbakin hills, cesar saw nene and introduced himself. he expressed his affection and promised nene he would return to court her. right after the war, cesar found nene and courted her. in 1948, they got married in simple rites. nene was orphaned by the war and cesar became her family. they had two children, sonny and girlie (i was named girlie as the first daughter). being future-oriented, cesar decided to apply for a scholarship to earn a masters and doctorate degree in Columbia University,New York. nene and the two kids brought cesar to Manila to board the SS Pres. Wilson for a one month journey to San francisco. each day at sea, cesar wrote nene and sonny and girlie. for three years, nene and cesar kept their love growing with letters and photographs. this 1951-53 letters became cesar’s journal and he poured all his feelings and dreams in these love letters. reading them transported me to another decade and the lives my parents struggled with. reading them made me reflect how good it was for my parents to pursue their higher studies and the struggles my mother took on to rear a family single-handedly during the time my father was overseas. many overseas parents will benefit from my mother’s experiences as parent.

i only found out about these letters from my sister heidi recently. nanay showed heidi the folders and i told her to read them. when i came home this may, heidi turned over the folders to me and it took four nights to read them the 1951 letters. i still have to peruse the 1952-53 letters. unfortunately, nene only saved the letters of cesar. but as i read the letters, i could still discern what nene wrote from the questions and thoughts of cesar. i found many spiritual and social gems in their letters. it will take a book to share the stories they exchanged with each other. their narratives are a rich source of lucena’s history in the 1950’s and what it took to build enverga’s university’s foundation as a teaching center in southern luzon.

may 1st :women’s labor value

May 5, 2008

am writing this to honor my mother Nene and all the mothers and women who work daily at home to provide us a life. every may 1st,ed and i would join the workers to observe labor day. last year, our whole family and staff joined the workers with a youth delegation from denmark. we brought young leaders from denmark and five phil.provinces to plaza miranda and listened to the speeches of labor leaders. this year, ed went to naujan and i went to lucena. but i spent may 1st attending mommy puri endiape’s 80th birthday with my maruknoll classmates. as mommy puri and her friends were dancing the hula ,i reflected on what women are experiencing now in the labor market.

now mothers and houseworkers share the same situation with young women workers. many young women do not get paid employment – they get income from commissions. i went to a health spa on may 2nd in lucena to have my TMG treated. i asked the hilot i got how much was her pay. she said ” am not a regular employee but i get a commission after treating you for an hour and a half”. “you do not get a salary from this spa?” i asked. “no maam, i will get a hundred pesos from your payment.”she replied . “but you work here seven days a week from 1 pm to 10pm?” i inquired. “yes maam,” she answered” i have to come here daily to earn a commission so i can support my six siblings.” i pressed her for more details and i found out that many of the women who provide services are not employees, though they are given philhealth and sss memberships but no basic pay. i inquired from my siblings who run health businesses and they said the trend is to get job orders. women are hired to be available for services but they are not wage workers. my sister said that sales girls in big stores ( i wont mention the stores) report for work, dress up well as sales girls but they get commissions only after they sell enough products. “you see them selling products like cosmetics and perfumes and if they dont sell anything, they go home without any commission.” ‘ but that’s unfair labor practice!” i objected.

“do you know why new nurses fresh from graduation cannot find jobs here? ” my friend dada asked me sometime last week. ” why?” because the philippines doesnt have enough political will to reform the labor market . “what do you mean ? i asked. “mika has been applying for a year as a new entry nurse. she made the rounds of all the hospitals in NCR but they will not hire her. they are open to volunteer nurses who must pay an entrance fee and they will accredit her after a year of volunteer service. ” ” haha! that’s another way of outsourcing but not paying.” i said. “mika has to pay in order to get work experience.” i also found out that the big hospitals in NCR require as much as P4000 as entry fees. when i inquired if the Quezon provincial hospital take volunteer nurses, the feedback is ” yes and the fee is P500 a month. ‘its the worker who pays the employer just so she can have work experience.” if mika doesnt have work experience ina hospital, she will not be allowed to work overseas.”explained dada. but even if she doesnt work overseas , how will she survive the labor competition ? the more she is not in paid work, the less she can be hired. because the more obstacles there are to paid work,the less chances new graduates can get paid work. the world of labor certainly has changed radically in methods but not in terms of fairness. ‘FaIRNESS in a Fragile world” ring loudly in deaf ears.

when you think of lifelong service and unpaid work, our mothers and household workers are the champions. i reflect at how long it took my mother to rear 13 children. she got married when she was barely 18 years old, had two children right away, then my father left for studies in the USA and was away for 3 years. my mother was an orphan and had no siblings to support her. she raised two children and supported my father during a time when the country was still reconstructing after world war II . she worked nonstop even when she was rearing us 13 children ! she  organized our growing household and worked as a teacher for 50 years . when we all graduated from college, she and my father continued subsidizing the education of some grandchildren plus children of friends who could not afford college education. my parents must have bankrolled a thousand scholars in the 60 years of their marrriage. my father always had students coming to our house for their allowances. my mother kept adopting girls from lucena, atimonan, meycauayan and liliw. i never realized how much they worked hard until i myself had my own household and had to run a monthly expense account. i pride myself in running a financially simple life with ed but i cannot match the managerial and financial competence of my parents, especially my mother. now i take stock of all the 60 years of their married life and learn from it. in another blog, i have started to write the lessons i got from reading their love letters and listening to their stories.

power to us women. fair pay and fair value to our women’s labor ! the world runs because we women give life .. from life to life while there is life , as the the ELF line goes…. mula sa buhay tungo sa buhay habang may buhay!

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