Saturday, December 2, 2006

"Yaya Nanay"
Sun.Star Davao, Dec. 2, 2006

For working mothers like me, having an efficient, hardworking and compassionate yaya is on top of my wish list.

She is a busy mother’s strongest ally in the Filipino home. A trusted and loving yaya acts as a surrogate mother, dependable help, and central figure of domestic harmony.

The other day, I was able to watch the movie trailer of Maricel Soriano’s latest drama project, “Inang Yaya”. The scenes shown were so heart-warming that I nearly cried. 

And, that’s just the trailer.

In my more than 6 years of married life, I had my unforgettable encounters with both admirable and dreadful yayas. Sometimes, due to reasons beyond our control, they leave our employ and our endless search for that elusive ideal yaya begins anew.

Rina Jimenez-David, noted columnist, writes “As teenagers, our biggest worry was how long our relationship with a boyfriend would last, when we became mothers, our foremost concern became how long our yaya would deign to stay with us”.

Upon hearing about the 1st National Yaya’s Day on November 29, I decided to search for Davao’s version of Yaya Luring, Sharon Cuneta’s much-celebrated Mega Yaya. The type who has the distinction of becoming so attached to her ward that she is considered a family member and tends to grow old with them. Thanks to my good friend, Jennifer Dacudao Dumlao, I finally found this rare gem of a yaya.

The search is over

Meet Salvacion Porcel a.k.a “Nanay”. Loyal yaya for 28 years.Nanay started working for Bobby and his late wife Lea Dacudao (nee Puentevella) in 1978. Originally from Silay City, Negros Occidental, Nanay was 34 years old when she was hired to look after the Dacudaos’ then one-year old son, Roro.

“Usually, the household help or yayas from Silay are children of the hacienda workers. They have served the family for generations and have become part of the family themselves”, Nanay explains in the vernacular.

At the time Roro was 4 years old, Ryan was born. 5 years later, Camille came into the picture. Nanay devotedly cared for all three of them.“An Ilonggo yaya is known for being malambing and the babies she takes care of are always good-smelling”, she proudly declares.

Surrogate mom

When Mrs. Dacudao passed away in 1988, Camille was just over a year old and could barely walk and talk. Nanay recalls that it broke her heart every time Camille would cry and shout while looking for her mother.

Once they were on a vacation in Silay and Camille saw a mother breastfeeding her child, she curiously asked “Nay, ginanyan mo din ba ako dati?”. Nanay replied “Oo”, just so that her alaga would feel that she did not miss out in the mother-child bond.

Their relationship is so close that Camille grew up to become a Vilmanian. During vacations in the U.S., Camille would keep in touch with her through Yahoo Messenger (YM) and webcam once a week.

Mr. Dacudao re-married in 1994 and had a son named Billy with wife Katrina Estepa. Again, it was Nanay who dotingly took care of the new baby.

Gem of a yaya

“An effective yaya loves her ward as her own children, palangga dapat. I buy things and food for my “alaga” even with my own money”, Nanay imparts. Sadly, she observes that the new generation of yayas do not have that same bond with their alagas.

“Minsan ang ibang yaya, walang pasensiya sa bata, madaling magalit at mabilis umalis sa trabaho”, Nanay notices.

The eldest ward, 29-year old Roro, shares that Nanay taught him and his siblings to be generous, thoughtful and show genuine concern for others without any vested interests.

Now that the four children are all grown up, 62-year old Nanay, who still remains to be single, has become the mayordoma of the Dacudao household. She supervises the maids of the different families who live in the sprawling Dacudao compound.

Nanay is likewise an excellent cook and her well-loved specialties include cajos (an Ilonggo black bean dish with bits of meat), lumpia ubod, monggo with gata, adobo and bangus with onion.

Pet lover

In addition, she busies herself taking care of George, a 4-year old black Labrador, owned by Camille. Nanay personally gives the dog a bath and prepares his food. Every afternoon, Nanay buys George an ice cream treat from the mobile sorbetero. “The ice cream costs P15.00.

Sometimes, I even buy George Magnolia popsicle”, Nanay happily relates. When she goes to the market, Nanay never fails to buy him bread.

During his last birthday, Nanay surprised George with a cake while he donned a Blue’s Clues party hat. With all this outstanding care and attention, George thinks he is human. He sits on the sofa, rides a golf cart, eats mint candy and dives into the swimming pool. George even has a security towel (just like Peanuts character Linus who owns a security blanket).

Bs in her life

Nanay is also an avid fan of the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF) and counts Batista as her favorite wrestler. Sunday afternoons are spent playing bingo at the mall. Her biggest win, so far, is P19,000. She shared a portion of her blessings to the members of the household by buying food.

Home is where the heart is

Asked if she has plans of going back to her hometown during her sunset years, Nanay answered “Mababait sila sa akin dito. Kung umuwi ako sa Silay, ma-mingaw ako sa Davao at mga alaga ko.” Because her parents are already deceased, Nanay feels that she has no more reason to permanently live in Silay.

Truly, for this remarkable yaya, home is where the heart is.

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