by Ronald Jabal
NOTE: This post is a finalist in the Top 10 Posts of the Year in the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards)
I have been all over Mindanao. And in most of these trips, I meet, share stories and exchange "hagikhikan" with my second moms. Yes MOMs - they are my barangay health workers (BHW) who are mostly women.
They are some of the most selfless and industrious Filipinos I have ever met. They work to promote health behavior and practices in mostly rural Philippines. They get an average of PhP 200 per month as an allowance which they only get every three months. Despite the uber measly sum, these BHWs work tirelessly. Pretty remarkable di ba?
But what I am writing about is the "tawanan galore" I always have everytime I am around them.
My first few meetings/trainings I conducted with them, I have always pronounced BHW as "bee eytch double you".
I thought I was doing okay until a few of the BHWs appoached me and said..
"Ser Roon... dili "bee eytch double you", dapat baya Beige dabol you".
And then another chimed in... "dapat bitch dabol you"... yet another said " Bee etch dabol yo"..
I was already attracting quite a group when one BHW shouted...
"Mali sila lahat... dapat "Vegetable you!"... ( haaay naging gulay pa tuloy ako!).
Kadyot lang, nalibugan ako
In yet another instance, I was confronted with a potentially sleazy situation... an indecent proposal (or so I thought!).
I was teaching a group of BHWs how to craft health messages for placement in their information materials when one mid-50s woman approach me with furrowed eyebrows, seemingly perplexed and disturbed and was slight scratching her head. Without much of a hupplepuff, she told m in full hearing distance of everybody:
"Sir, kadyot lang, kadyot lang. Nalibog ako sa iyo".
Caught by surprise and pagkataranta at the "candor" and "openness" of the statement, I didnt know how to respond.
I looked at our staff begging for help, but when no one budged, I retorted to the BHW:
"Ma'm pasensya na ha... di kita type eh!"
At this time, the entire session hall burst into laughter.
The cackling was deafening, even our staff could not help but teared at my straightforward response.
And then I just felt a light "kurot" in my kili kili.
"Bruho kang bata ka (the BHW who earlier said na nalibog sya sa akin was already laughing hard), ang ibig ko sabihin, sandali lang nalilito ako!"
And the near 40 participants let loose a loooooong hagakhakan, while I was flustered due to embarassment!