“The magnificent womyn I know” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Mar. 11-17, 2015; page A7)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of March 11-17, 2015


And then there were five.

A couple of days before March 8, which was International Women’s Day, a group of us watched “50 Shades of Grey” at the Fremont Pacific Commons just for the helluvit. One had to leave after the screening, so there were five of us who grabbed a bite to eat afterwards. I learn something new every day and the latest in the evolving parlance is “G.N.O.” which stands for “girls’ night out.” In our GNO, we ran the gamut of age range from 40s to 70s, and our zodiac signs were complementary: we had a Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo, Libra, and Aries. Hmmm…three mutable and two cardinal signs, respectively, maybe meaning that fixed signs require a different sort of entertainment.

There’s La Bella Dulce, a.k.a. the diva-ness Dulce Dizon, Silicon Valley professional by day, super socio-civic heroine by night and all the times in between. She said that coordinating GNOs like this is “like herding cats.” Well, she made this one happen, didn’t she? And everyone had a fabulous time! And then there’s Dulce’s aunt, Auntie Helen Marciano, 72 years old, a seasoned trooper and a woman of few words. There’s Juliet Cuaresma Macaraeg Quiambao, who insists on using all three last names to honor her mother, father, and husband, respectively. She is a generous patroness of charitable ventures and takes international trips with her hubby from time to time. Talk about the good life. For that night’s GNO, she had to drive all the way from South San Francisco and then ride the BART to meet with the rest of us. There’s Yvonne Loyola, an accountant and office management specialist who looks so young for her age and yet has definitely ascended up the career ladder and is a proud wife and mother, too. And then there’s me. Together, the five of us sat through a rather tepid and unremarkable film then went out for dinner in a restaurant that failed to impress. (I’ll leave my co-GNOs to post reviews on Yelp.)

Even if the movie itself was 2/5 stars, it still provoked discussion among us. First, all of us wanted to know what Auntie Helen thought of the movie – if she liked it. She made a noncommittal reply, preferring to listen rather than speak. Dulce mentioned one critic who wrote that this movie is a blow to feminism because of the dominant/ submissive ethos. Yvonne replied that taking on either of these roles is a preference, pointing out that before the male lead became a dominant in adulthood, he himself was a submissive first. Well, Juliet put her foot down on the plot point of an innocent boy of 15 being made a “sex slave” of his mother’s best friend for six years with nobody else knowing.

To Juliet, this just simply screams child abuse. “As parents, we need to pay close attention to our children, raise them in a Godly way and spend lots of quality time with them while they’re still young,” was how Julie put it. I feel privileged to be in the company of Dulce, Auntie Helen, Yvonne, and Julie because they give me a mélange of opinions arising from their beautifully unique personalities. We also made sure there was an ample amount of humor and fun! What a way to celebrate Intl. Women’s Day!

Intl. Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 each year, after its Socialist women workers’ beginnings. The word “womyn,” according to dictionary.com, is “used chiefly in feminist literature as an alternative spelling to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequence m-e-n.” Even with these distinctions, we are still living in a society where men earn more than womyn for the same job, where certain opportunities are closed to womyn, and where abuses are perpetrated against womyn and girls.

Despite the odds, we hear of stories of Filipina women throughout the years who triumphed over many limitations to make significant contributions to Philippine society. From time to time, this column will feature these feisty Filipinas who are truly “kickass,” as FilipiKnow founder Luisito E. Batongbakal, Jr calls them in one of his articles.

Let’s start with Maria Ylagan Orosa (1893-1945), who had four different pharmacy- and chemistry-related degrees. One was obtained from the University of the Philippines and three (including a master’s) were from the University of Seattle, where she settled for a brief while after being a stowaway, in her strong desire to gain the education geared toward her interests. Eventually, Orosa remarkably decided to come back to her native country to serve her fellow Filipinos. Here’s what Wikipilipinas.org has to say about Orosa’s career as a food technologist and scientist: “Orosa made many invaluable innovations and experiments in plant utilization, food preservation and canning. She developed the production of vinegar from pineapple. Her best-known invention, however, was the “magic food” Soyalac, a high-protein food derived from soybeans. Orosa is also credited with inventing recipes for banana ketchup, wines from native fruits, banana starch, soyamilk, banana flour, cassava flour, rice cookies from rice bran or darak to prevent beri-beri. Aside from the advances she made in food technology, Orosa also tried to improve household wares by inventing the “Orosa Palayok Oven” for cooking various dishes.”

FilipiKnow’s Batongbakal writes that Orosa’s mission in life was plain and simple: to make every Filipino family self-sufficient in terms of food, health, and nutritional needs. She was also a captain during World War II, caring for and feeding prisoners in enemy concentration camps. Her invention, “Soyalac” was crucial to the survival of those prisoners in Tarlac, Laguna, Pampanga, and the University of Santo Tomas in Manila who would’ve otherwise died of hunger. For her numerous contributions to the core of Philippine life, Orosa was honored and remembered by decree. Perhaps the most important landmark we are all familiar with is Orosa Street stretching from T.M. Kalaw to Padre Faura in Ermita, Manila. Less known yet equally significant is the building named after her and the historical marker within the Bureau of Plant Industry compound in San Andres, Manila. Former President Carlos P. Garcia also declared Orosa’s birthday (Nov. 29) Home Extension Day for her pioneering innovations in plant utilization, food preservation and canning.

There you go: sex, food, and chemistry vis-à-vis GNO and Intl. Women’s Day. Mixed together in a cauldron of womynly desires, the whole may amount to more than the sum of its parts! Let us drink and celebrate responsibly (wink).


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