Looking for Mr. (Good) Baraking | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

HE’S not exactly dream date material, but Baraking can easily be the role model for today’s Filipino fathers.

Baraking comes alive through the book “Barako… Baraking,” a modern-day Filipino fairy tale questioning gender role norms among Filipino families. It is a story told through the eyes and voice of Biboy, a child lucky to have that rarest of fathers – one who so willingly takes on roles traditionally ascribed to mothers.

The book is rooted in the most common woe of families ruptured by the phenomenon of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). While described as the country’s New Heroes for the hefty remittances they contribute to the economy, these OFWs often find themselves alienated from their families because of their frequent and prolonged absences from home.

“Barako… Baraking” is a glimpse into how labor has been feminized as more and more women are forced to leave their children behind in the care of husbands or other relatives. In a society where child-rearing remains a woman’s job, most OFW families are drastically affected when mothers go abroad.

Book author Cindy Dizon-Gealogo, a professor of Psychology and Early Childhood Care and Development at the Kalayaan College, describes the book as a product of her exposure to the plight of migrant workers and the families they leave behind. Cindy worked as a researcher for the Center for Women’s Resources from 1993 to 1998, and was a former faculty of the Department of Family Life and Child Development at UP Diliman’s College of Home Economics. It was here where she realized the value of family environment on a child’s development, says the author who later became part of the Parents’ Alternative for Early Childhood Care and Development, Inc. (PAI).

PAI, the NGO that stands to benefit from Cindy’s opus, was set up in 1980 by former political detainees during martial law as a parents’ cooperative to care for their young children. Currently, it provides training seminars for grassroots women from rural and urban poor communities on developing and managing a progressive community-based early childhood care and development program. To date, it has supported over 300 community day care centers through its training program.

In coming out with this book, Cindy has realized two of her long-held dreams. The first is the celebration of the image of the “Baraking” father, whose manhood is in no way diminished by his capacity to become the primary nurturer of his children. Her own two children can themselves claim to having a father like Biboy’s, Cindy confides.

The second dream, one that she has articulated again and again since becoming a member of PAI’s board of trustees, is to actively contribute to PAI’s resource base. This has been made possible through an arrangement with the book’s publisher, Southern Voices Press, so that 30 percent of the book’s sales will go to fund PAI’s programs.

For Southern Voices co-proprietor and co-publisher Pia Garduce, coming out with a book such as “Barako… Baraking” also fulfills a long-held dream – to come out with a children’s book series. “This is the first-born of the Saranggola Books series. Like a kite, we hope to see in the next generation of readers the spirit of freedom and critical thinking soaring high and proud.”

Herself an advocate of women and children’s rights, Pia says publishing the book “is consistent with Southern Voices Press’ commitment to contribute to the flourishing of progressive literature sorely lacking in our country.”

Pia expresses the wish to see Biboy’s story grow. “As they say in Filipino komiks tradition, Biboy’s story ought to be continued. The lives of OFW families are so textured and filled with all sorts of colors that a thousand and one narratives can be woven out of their dreams and trials.”

She hopes that parents can similarly gift their children with the saranggola spirit through the picnic launch of “Barako… Baraking” at the Quezon City Parks and Wildlife fishing village, on April 19, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. •
For more information, please call Gendra Quilitanoor or Zenaida Garduce at (632) 4394021.

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