February 9, 2023

It is better to use the term nanay or kasambahay as endearment and respect to address our housekeepers. Why? In our context, it has a sweet tone of endearment. In fact, they are called katulong or kasambahay because we recognize they are more than the meager jobs they do, but they also hold a special part in the families they work for. The title “maid” could reduce the wonderful gifts and loving qualities of our kasambahay especially if one could use it carelessly in a film.

My mom is a katulong and all her life I’ve seen how she served many families in our community from cleaning, washing, doing errands, and caring after many children, some until they become adults and even their own children too. Not for once did I ask for a special treatment from my mom nor question her love to us, her children, just because she has more time tending to other homes. Instead, we had to outgrow ourselves and appreciate her dedication to her work and help her instead.

Although my mom is a kasambahay, she is my mom and I need to see to it that I am careful not to treat her any less. In our family, we should be the first to restore their good qualities and put more faith to them. That’s why, I’m quite baffled on how the maids were portrayed in the film “Maid in Malacañang”. Are they just there in Malacañang to do “marites”, gander on the First Family, or being used as apparatus to plead pity for the dictator’s family?

I don’t think that’s the business of the maids or katulong. It’s true that they have intimate witness to families but not to broadcast them in the film. You see like my mom; she is more concerned on keeping the children and the things inside the home tight than gossiping or collecting family scandals. That’s not the politics of the maids; or was it?

What’s real to us is that we have seen and felt one way or another the love of our kasambahay and that’s a more reliable experience than gossips and lies. Instead, we have children’s books worth reading that provide valuable insights and empathy to our kasambahay.

Notable is the book of Didith Rodrigo’s “Nanny’s Hands” and Rhandee Garlito’s “Chenelyn, Chenelyn” that was awarded Gintong Aklat Award in 2000. Didith draws the heart of the readers to feel the callous yet warm and nurturing hands of a kasambahay. While in “Chenelyn, Chenelyn”, Garlitos uses magic to underscore the almost 101 miracle tasks accomplished by a kasambahay; but also calls for action to lend help and address issues they faced to secure their welfare and their families. These books and a lot more Philippine books are available at Mt. Cloud Bookshop.

I believe it’s more productive for people nowadays to visit bookstores more often than watch fake news or entertain “marites” in the social media. By doing this, we hold tight to our stories, values, and history that truly matter in our growth as an individual and as a nation.