Bohol’s Choice Cuts
By Loy Palapos
May 31, 2009
WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN NOW?
Life is a never-ending cycle. Caught in the vortex of living to the hilt, and succumbing to unavoidable realities, is usually a woman who survives her husband, long after their children have made homes of their own. And when the siblings are gone with their own families separately, the mother stays home amidst the deafening silence. In her solitary reign she whispers with nostalgia, “Where are the children now?”
This is the question Mrs. Carmencita Dominguez-Arcay usually intones, albeit without bitterness for she herself knows what life is. She can remember with relish her once merry homes, reverberating with the cries and shouts of her six children, their unshod feet, prancing everywhere, their cries and laughter juxtaposed in an ever increasing crescendo that used to occupy her mind. She can remember the chaos, the amalgamation of worries and problem. But now, alone…she misses them with passion.
She could still recall her life at her prime when as teenager she never lacked attraction, especially from the swains, whenever she went Vivacious and easy to get along with, she had a lot of friends and admirers, a situation that made her life worth the risks although things can go beyond the ordinary and common place.
Like the time when in her late teens, the pretty lady caught the attention of a man who was enamored by her attractive demeanor. He fall in love with her, although she did not give him enough of her attention. She was then a primary grade teacher and he was in heir to a rich family. The parents of the guy took matters into their own hands in behalf of their beloved son who was madly in love with her. Her parents, considering the bright future of their daughter, consented to the proposal of the boy’s parents. He was handsome and rich. Surely their daughter would be happy to have him as her husband. Thus, the deal was made and the corresponding wedding arrangement was set in haste. Dumugsol Sahudin and Carmencita Dominguez would be a perfect match, they thought.
But he was a Muslim, and she cannot think of being married to a man who would soon have more wives. No matter how huge the dowry was. No matter how elaborate the wedding and reception could be. All these trimmings were nothing to Mae.
She panicked and without telling anybody, especially her parents, she decided to run away from home. Packing her meager necessities into a bag, she took a bus. Ther bus driver was a good-looking guy from Panglao, Fabian Guimalan Arcay. She told her of her plight, and the man was sympathy-hidden. That moment, love was born. With somebody willing to listen to her, she informed him that she just won a scholarship grant to study Physical Education at the Rizal Memorial College, which was one of the reasons which gave her strength to leave her family. She said she would be boarding in the dormitory of Mr. William Changbia, who later became a Congressman. With this information, she sailed to Manila with a heavy heart.
Fabian, thinking that she could still be pursued by the Muslim suitor, followed her to Manila. Their relationship deepened, making them decide to get married. They first had a civil wedding, fearing that they may be parted again. They went to Panglao, Bohol where they solemnized their vows through church wedding..
Because of her qualifications as a PE teacher, finding a job in the public school was not a problem. Although her teaching job at Harvard’s Colleges in Orognieta City offered a lot of opportunities for advancement, the young couple was firm in their decision that there was no other better place than Bohol.
Aware that she needed a Bachelor’s degree to be fully qualified as a public school teacher, she enrolled at the Cebu Vacation Normal School during the summer terms. She finished Bachelor of Science in Education Major in Physical Education. At Holy Name College (Holy Name University) she tool up BSEED. A master’s degree was the next target. She started the graduate course at Rafael Palma College (University of Bohol) and then transferred to HNC.
Her husband, who was Automotive Mechanic, was employed as heavy equipment operator at the Bohol Provincial Engineer’s Office. They started raising a family while she was still engrossed in her studies. They have 6 children, now having families of their own.
Fabian II is a Philippine Coast Guard stationed in Cagayan de Oro City. Ma. Victoria A. Revilla is a Barangay Kagawad of Poblacion II, Panglao, married to a Seaman. Bernard finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce, and married a nurse. He served the Sangguniang Bayan of Panglao as a kagawad for nine years.
Ma. Hygenna A. Timtim is an Electrical Engineer married to an Engineer-Seaman. Faron finished BSMT and AB, and is a Seaman, married to a BSE graduate in Manila. The youngest, Mannuel also finished BSMT and AB, and is another Seaman in the family.
Mae Dominguez was born in Dansalan, Lanao del Norte on April 14, 1933. Her father, Domingo Absalin de Guzman, was from San Fernando, Pampanga, who was a Philippine National Guard at Camp Overton, Dansalan. Her mother was Isidra Ditucalan Dominguez, who had Boholano roots. They are eight in the family.
Pedro was mechanists who opted to settle in Pampanga. Filomena G. Pomicpic finished ETC and taught in Davao. Maria G. Igdon was a nurse who settled with her family in Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor. Romulo was an agriculturist in Mawab, Cambal Valley, Davao. Mae is fifth in the family.
Godolfredo finished BSC, and just retired as a cashier of Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Cagayan de Oro City. Caridad G. Paler used to work with Elizalde Mining in Davao. The youngest, Kathleen G. Maglinte, was based in Datag, Larena, Siquijor.
Mae studied first in Plaridel Central Elementary School, Misamis Occidental. She finished her secondary education also in Plaridel. For her college studies she had to go to Orognieta City, Manila, Cebu, and Tagbilaran. After 46 years of teaching, she retired in 1998.
What makes Mae Arcay exemplary is the way she makes herself productive and still be a part of mainstream society. She was taken in by the Bohol GSIS Mutual Fund as the Provincial Satellite Coordinator, a job which made her busy. She is an active member of AWRAFI (Association of Writers and Radio Announcers Foundation, Inc.), occupying various positions. Now, she is the Foundation’s Executive Director. She has been a Director of LUDABI (Lubas sa Dagang Binisaya), and is now its National Governor. She is also a Director of BLAC (Bohol Literary Arts Circle). She used to be a Support Faculty of “Ilaw ng Buhay,” a project of Ilaw International Center, which brought her to several parts of the country as lecturer and facilitator.
How does Mae spend an ordinary weekday? She wakes up at five in the morning to tend to her plants, opening her door and windows to greet the birds and butterflies a pleasant morning. She talks to her plants as she waters and prunes them. They are her children now, with her six siblings living their own lives separately. For adrenaline rush, and to wipe the negative thoughts away, she does the Taebo.
One big blow to her was the loss of Fabian, her husband. “He was a very fine man,” she could still recall. With her children already married, and her husband gone, what is there left for her?
“Plenty!” She exclaimed. “My regret is I don’t have enough time to do all of them.” She is totally involved in community and church-related projects; there is no time to be idle. Her loads are full, her responsibilities overflowing. Living alone does not make her a lonely human being. Her life is immersed in beautiful memories, and the passing of each day finds her in varied activities. She even has a cultural radio program at DYRD, “Mithi sa Halamang Bisaya,” which is an outlet for local talents in music, song and poetry.
Through all these, Mae eyes the future with a passion of an individual who knows how to live life. “It’s a time of service to God,” she affirms. “I serve Him through other people.” Is there a life better than this?