WAS the “naano” joke made by Sen. Vicente Castelo 3rd – Tito Sotto for short – on a cabinet appointee of President Duterte funny? But funny or not, I still admire his guts in asking the more penetrating question about the family life lived by a former teacher, who, perhaps, also served as a role model for her students at the University of the Philippines.
To women, Sotto did the unthinkable – insulting womanhood in this country. Yet, I did not consider his use of “naano” too offensive to deserve an overreaction. A woman happened to be undergoing the closest scrutiny possible for a candidate for the post of social welfare secretary.
Now that I know something about Judy Taguiwalo, I thank the senator for the topic of today’s Due Diligencer, although I do not understand what’s social about welfare and what is social about development.
Yes, Gabriela, which I understand is an active organization of women, had spoken against Mr. Sotto. Wasn’t this the same group that visited a housing project in Pandi, Bulacan to sympathize with the plight of the members of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, aka Kadamay? If they were, then Liza Masa and her Gabriela belong to the same tribe of selective sympathizers, like Taguiwalo.
Masa, as a leader of a politically oriented group, and Taguiwalo, as social welfare secretary, have a lot in common between them that they should be asked: Naano na ba ang mga Kadamay sa Pandi? “Naano could mean either “Nabigyan na ba ng bahay” or “Napaalis na ba”?
The latter translation would have been more appropriate had not President Duterte beaten everybody to the draw by announcing the good news that only the poorest of the poor supported by Kadamay could truly appreciate. He gave them the houses that they had forcibly taken away from the legitimate beneficiaries without passing through the required application process of the National Housing Authority.
With the president’s suggestion, the newcomers justified their claim that the houses were given to them and that they need not pay a centavo for any of them.
“Lahat ito amin,” a Kadamay beneficiary said, pointing to all the houses at NHA’s low-cost housing project during a recent visit by Due Diligencer.
Seeing the President’s generosity with houses built by the NHA using taxpayers’ money given away to the Kadamay members, the natives of Pandi, many of them also poor, found themselves silently griping. ‘Why should he show his favoritism toward his fellow Visayans, when he is the President of every Filipino? What about us?’
Having grown up in one of the 22 barangay (villages) of my former town, I knew how rural life was. As a child prior to reaching school age, I played with other children in the neighboring farms during the dry season after every palay harvest. There was no road that connected our place to nearby barrios at the time. Children walked for miles to public schools along muddy dikes that divided the farms, and washed their feet before getting inside their classrooms.
When their classes were over, these schoolchildren, who must be either in their old age now or have passed away, walked the same route back home.
I knew how life was back then, in fact I remember my elder brother and two sisters used to visit our maternal grandparents at the end of each week.
When we played with the other children, I vividly recall, when one got hurt and screamed in pain, the mother would yell out from inside her house asking: “Anak, naano ka? (Son, what happened to you?)” She would even get direct to the point: “Sino ang umano sa ‘yo? (Who did that to you?)”
The point here is that the use of “naano” by a native Tagalog speaker might sound insulting to non-Tagalog listeners, even when there is no such insult intended. The big mistake that Sotto committed was in leaving his point hanging after mentioning “naano.” To Due Diligencer, the word could have meant “early indiscretion,” which would not sound too good to translate to Tagalog.
I used the two-word phrase to describe Masa and Taguiwalo because they went to visit only the Kadamays at NHA’s housing project in Pulang-Lupa, one of the 22 barangay villages of Pandi.
Imagine this: They took time in going to a far-flung area too far away to reach from either Quezon City or Manila.
Why did they come in a caravan? Pandi folks and others in the trip must have wondered: Has Kadamay become so endowed with donations that its members could afford to ride in expensive cars and hire public utility jeeps to take them 50 kilometers away from their headquarters?
The Masa-led Gabriela came as sympathizers. So did Ms. Taguiwalo’s Department of Social Welfare and Development but for a different purpose. Gabriela came to express its sympathy to Kadamay while the DWSD, spending the people’s money, brought food exclusively for its Kadamay allies. Didn’t they know that the informal settlers from Navotas were already living in the government’s housing project long before the Kadamay’s invasion?
For sometime, the poor settlers from Navotas owned houses only to lose them years later to Kadamay members and sympathizers.
Ms. Masa and Ms. Taguiwalo had, indeed, engaged in selective commiseration with the poor by limiting their expression of sympathy only to their friends in Kadamay.
By the way, Sotto was even being kind to Taguiwalo when he used the word “naano.” He could have made a direct-to-the point inquiry as a senator. Why did he not ask who the father of her two daughters was? Just asking, but I will try to find the answer to my own poser.