Meet Isabel de la Cruz, manug bolante isda. She buys around 30 kilos of the freshest catch from Guimbal’s hardy fishermen. With three plastic pailfuls of fish, she then rides a Miagao jeepney to Mohon, gets off, climbs another jeepney to Molo, gets off again and calls for a sikad to finally reach Fundidor where her husband is a resident fish vendor. In between bolante work, Isabel has to take care of her kids and keep house.
I ended that short fb post with this line “Long live superwomen!” It wasn’t a conscious deed to feature hardworking women but that seems to be a recurring theme. I had Tya Pacing, whom I called the Mutya ng La Pa Market. There’s Tya (oh no I forgot her first name) Delos Santos, the perdon lady of the Cathedral. There’s Mrs. Alicia Deocampo of the famous barquillos of Jaro… A long, long time ago, I took this photograph which I entitled Mutya ng Jaro Market. Too bad I didn’t get the name of that lady who had a cigar in her mouth and balatong in her hands.
Anyway, this post has its lighter side too. I was sitting beside Isabel (I didn’t know her yet). Of course, everyone noticed her fish because it was beaming, gleaming with freshness.
Can you guess what that is?
In Ilonggo, it’s mat-an. In Karay-a , it’s marot. In English, Isabel said its round scad.
In that jeep were two (make that three) teachers and beside me, a woman with kids. Common denominator? Mothers.
we all wanted to buy Isabel’s fish to take home and cook into sinabawan or maybe prito.. We could already taste the sweet broth of this mat-an…. the soft balance between the sourness of the camatis and the freshness of the fish.
Isabel was selling it for 140/kilo. Fair enough for all the trouble she had to go through. The malls sell fish starting at 160 and it’s been on display for hours.
We we had a problem. Isabel had no plastic bags. Except for one teacher-nanay, we didn’t have them on hand either until the mothers’ resourcefulness set in.
What kind of plastic is that?
Surprisingly, the dep-ed teacher removed the contents of her plastic envelope and gave it to her seatmate, a college teacher (they didn’t know each other) so she could also buy some fish.
There you go. All happy and content with their fish, now resting at their feet on the jeepney’s metal floor.
I too wanted to bring home some mat-an but I just didn’t have any plastic bag on that day so I contented myself just chatting with Isabel.
I asked permission to take her photo when we arrived at Mohon terminal. The ‘konductor’ helped her with the bigger pails.
A simple smile from a hardworking Ilongga.
As she catches her breath to take another jeepney, a man eyes her mat-an.
I had already left Mohon by then.
‘hope to see you next time Isabel.