In Binanuaanan, Women Are from Mars and Men from Venus


Being the first chance to visit the barangays of Binanuaanan, an eerie feeling there will be less encounter with the general populace of the area was filling us. But some information and direction about the place had to be sourced. Definitely, there will be a conversation between the unwelcomed visitor and the unknowing residents.

Deep in this thought, habal-habal riders, which include the motorist and two contracted passengers their hands holding firmly plastic bags which seemed contained goods brought from the town markert, whizzed past us.

Behind also was one motorized tricyle full of passengers.

(Read first part here:The topsy turvy road system of Binanuaanans)

Our interest was keenly challenged, we had to count the number of persons occupying the popular “transport vehicle.” When they stopped, we stopped too. Three women alighted from the inside of the tricycle, two men went down from the vehicle’s roof top and occupied the seat vacated by three girls who went to take the seat left behind by the three women. Our instant chance to count the number of passengers opened up. Originally, there were four persons compressed inside, two sitting at the back of the driver, two men on top, three men and one woman on passenger section at the back. One man occupied the ledge, the entrance to the vehicle in standing position, his head outside, conversing with the passengers on the rooftop! Fourteen people in all.

The last time this writer alighted from a cramped vehicle almost fell to the ground as our legs could barely stand to support our body weight because of the ensuing cramps. Now, picture in mind how uncomfortable and dangerous the ride could be here in Binanuaanan. Women and children are subjected to a torturous ride each time they do errands from their house to the market or to school and back. They (women) must be strong-willed and highly tolerant of the regular discomfort. We have to go back in our observation that earlier there were women harvesting the matured corn on the stalks.

After we passed the small dainty chapel of the first residential zone, we have the chance meet-up with the women of Binanuaanan. Actually only two, so allow us then, they are women. They were having an afternoon chat in front of the sari-sari store. We greeted them, they smiled and replied to our query. No, they did not offer free soft drink even as we would readily accept if given one.

They are not Calabangueños but they are Calabangueños! Based on the short talk that ensued, they originally came from a town in Quezon province that borders the boundary with Camarines Sur. They migrated to Calabanga and settled in the mountainous barangay. Many residents here, including but not limited to Paolbo and Manguiring, speak Tagalog. Obvously, they came from Quezon and Batangas provinces. So in these areas, the lingua franca is both Bicol and Tagalog.

It turned out that with our simple inquiry, and their honest answer would be an effective icebreaker, somehow. Before we left, they sold us P100.00 pesos worth of raffle tickets for the fund raising campaign and support for the construction of their church. We left our phone number just in case any of the lucky coupon get picked up for the prize of one cavan or a sack of milled rice.

Life in Binanuaanan is simple and prudent but we had the impression the women were very congenial and hospitable. It flashed in our mind that weeks before we visited the barangay, we preceded the distinguished visit of Mrs. Leni Robredo in the area. The widow of Bicolano icon Jesse Robredo met the women of Binanuaanan in organizing their singular voice into a power of change.

That time Atty. Robredo was not campaigning yet, even as she is a candidate for the third congressional district of Camarines Sur. She only wanted to make sure that the rights of women are heard and respected, and maybe their votes counted during the election. The widow was organizing a cohesive woman power on every barangay of the third district, then.

(Read first part here:The topsy turvy road system of Binanuaanans)

The meeting would have been held at the barangay hall but WHOA! they were not allowed to occupy the place. Instead the meeting party was shoved off to the field by the barangay captain. So early in the election season, the local leader may already have been beholden to a different camp in the political spectrum. He and his group of the old school stick to colonial patronage politics. No wonder, as we personally cast our glimpses in the area, we recognized campaign posters tuck on trees and electric posts of Villafuerte, one of the septuagenarian patriarch of political dynasty in Camarines Sur.

It is sad that power corrupts men. More unfortunate when power is continuously abused to suppress the free will of women.(

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