Madalag, Aklan – March is Women’s Month – a fitting occasion to pay tribute to extraordinary women who, despite all odds, became successful in their endeavors, being able to help their families and contribute to the community.
Such are the stories of Sherlina Hungay, Genie Nanson, Lovely Tello, and Marian Cadevida.
These women challenged the prevailing notion in rural areas that females are not fit to enter professions traditionally seen as male-dominated. There are still those who believe in the notion that only men should work, as it was the woman’s duty to stay at home.
But the four women proved their detractors wrong by having completed training in welding, which still remains largely a man’s profession, here in the Philippines.
The training was made possible through the Gender Incentive Grant (GIG) from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) and implemented through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the core poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
These women used the negative perception against women welders as motivation to work hard to prove to others, and themselves, that they had the capacity to rise to the challenge.
From housewife to welder
“Dati akong ‘taga’. Taga-linis, taga-laba, taga-luto (I used to be ‘taga’. I clean, I wash, I cook),” Sherlina, 33, joked.
As a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary, she was among the priority-trainees of a skills training provided by the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) through the GIG from Kalahi-CIDSS.
When asked by the Pantawid Pamilya Parent Leader, “Kaya mo ba talaga (Do you really think you can do it?), her response was, “Kakayanin ko ito para sa pamilya ko (I will do this for my family).”
Sherlina had no prior experience in working, being a housewife who took care of her three children. She even considered the possibility of working as a domestic helper abroad to earn money for her family, as she and her husband struggle daily to make ends meet. Her spouse works as a job-order construction worker at the municipal government.
After the training, Sherlina had to pass the assessment so she can become a full-fledged welder.
She recalled how anxious she felt when she was waiting for the results.
“Sobra ang nerbiyos ko sa assessment baka hindi ako makapasa. Nakakahiya sa asawa ko (I was so nervous during the assessment because I might not pass. I would be so ashamed to face my husband).”
Her fears were unfounded since she passed the assessment without any problem.
Sherlina gave her testimony during the graduation ceremony that was given by Kalahi-CIDSS to the women-trainees.
“Kung ano ang kaya ng asawa ko, kaya ko rin (I can do whatever my husband can),” she proudly shared.
She continued, “Matagal na kaming mag-asawa, pero ngayon ko lang naramdaman na mataas ang tingin niya sa akin. Masarap sabihin sa sarili na napakita ko na kaya ko (We have been married for several years, but it was only when I was going through training that I felt that he had high respect for me. It feels good that I was able to prove to myself that I could do this).”
Now, Sherlina has this to say about herself, her tone proud: “ ‘Taga’-welding ako (I am a welder).”
‘Just watch me’