In the cold mist of the mountains and the breeze coming from Abra river, the dawn breaks slowly to a radiant Cordillera morning.

This innate beauty of the Cordillera morning is often savoured by tourists in the region. Unfortunately, there are times that this seems to be forgotten or ignored by the locals who consider these sunrises as normal days of waking up to labour as experienced by a couple in Langiden, Abra.

Even before the sun rises, Maricel and Glenn Berońa are already up. Walking towards their kitchen, one makes a cup of coffee then goes out to check and wash the tricycle, while the other stays to prepare breakfast and calls the rest of the family when the food is ready. As one leaves for work with the children for school, the other remains to do other household chores. To the couple’s household, this scenario is their household routine, their typical morning.

But when Maricel became a community volunteer, her usual activities had changed. Unlike before, she was no longer a home buddy. She later went out of their house for a community work, a set up which resulted to the couple’s struggle, leading into some household quarrels.

Dawn of life’s changes

For Maricel, experiencing changes and adapting to them were not new. She was originally from Florida, Pampanga until she met Glenn who is from Langiden, Abra. It’s not actually a love at first sight according to her. But with Glenn’s perseverance in courting her, the two became closer each day that they were together. And unexpectedly, she fell in love with this man, she smilingly recounted.

Their love blossomed in Pampanga in 2001. They became a couple, and then later started a family of their own. They stayed there for two years as Glenn narrated to finish his construction work.

Later, a blessing came to their lives. They decided to move and settle in Langiden for their growing family. New environment, new house, new neighbours, new responsibility and new culture for Maricel were the changes she faced. Taking all of these, Glenn testified that one by one, she was able to adjust. They built their home, now with three children, namely Glemar who is 11 years old, Giselle, nine and their youngest, Princess who is five year old.

More changes

It began when Maricel got influenced by her neighbours to join in a Barangay Assembly at their barangay hall. There, the community was oriented about Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Just like other residents, Maricel became a frequent participant in meetings, Community Facilitator Roxan Ramirez said.

While Maricel was in her way in discovering her community role, she also encouraged Glenn to attend in Kalahi-CIDSS activities with her.  But, then, their additional role was a challenge to them. “Narigat talaga nga agibalanse ti oras lalo no sika ti babae ti pagtaengan” (It’s really hard to balance time especially when you’re the woman of the house), Maricel said. Sometimes, she went out early or returned home late, making some of her household chores left undone or some dinners turned late. And sometimes, because of tiredness, she wanted to ask her husband to also cook for dinner but did not have enough courage to say it.

For Glenn, sometimes he had second thoughts of involving himself to such activities due to his tricycle driving schedule. His participation was half-hearted, he admitted, saying “Haan ko talaga ikaskaso dagidyay maar-aramid idi, no maminsan umayak, no maminsan haan, ta masapol ko nga agpasada” (I was not that serious on what’s happening, I would go sometimes, and sometimes not because I need to drive).

Beauty of Changes

One morning, they never knew that one of their trainings would solve the struggles in their relationship. Glenn was originally hesitant in going because he thought that the activities are only for women. Fortunately, he was convinced to joined after the community facilitator corrected his notion on gender sensitivity. Maricel shared “naipalpalawag kanyami dagiti responsibilidad me a kas ina ken ama nga maibagak nga maysa daytoy nga training nga haan ko malipatan” (Our responsibilities as mother and father was explained to us, which I can say that this is one of the trainings I won’t forget).

Day after day, the couple noticed some changes. Glenn helped his wife in cooking and laundering their used clothes, while Maricel fulfilled her community work by setting it in the morning. “Na-realize ko nga babae man o lalaki basta kayat na nga aramiden ti pag-imbaganna, agaramid nga agaramid isuna ti paraan” (I realized that either woman or man, as long as they want to be better, they will find ways), Maricel disclosed.

When she learned that their community’s sub-project will start its implementation stage, according to her co-volunteers, Maricel chose to be a regular laborer. Initially, her practical reason in joining the paid labor was to add or support her husband in generating their family’s income. As she continued working, her motivation changed as she has now developed the commitment to support their community’s dream- to have a flood control system.

Though experiencing hot weather while working, hot and heavy stones to move and arrange, Maricel expressed that “kinanayonak nga busy ken adda kinanayon nga magungun-ud ko ket naragsakak nga makatulong” ([it] keeps me busy and productive and I’m happy that I’m helping).

“Nakitak met nga uray marigrigatan ni misis, ket itultuloy na latta isunga sinuportarak ti kayatna” (Even though my wife experienced difficulty, she still continued so I supported what she wanted [to do]) Glenn shared his view on his wife’s involvement with the Project.

Maricel and Glenn came to believe that there is a time for everything – time for their family, for work and for themselves. With their experiences as a couple, they learned to know their priorities and manage their time as a mother and a father, or wife and husband or community volunteer and maybe as they will be for their other future roles.

Eventually, the couple found the beauty of their morning, the extraordinary on their ordinary day – that is when they became open to chances and changes that life brings. And every day, they hope to continue finding extraordinary which makes their every waking time worth standing in their radiant Cordillera morning. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, MAYROSE URBANO-CARIŃO

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