My office at the DSWD is currently under renovation so in the meantime, I squat in my boss’ office that’s the size of, maybe, 4 typical apartment houses. I lay out the mountain of papers I need to read on the table of her conference room and this is where I make calls and too, where I listen to the cutie pie who looks like my sons, ASec Anton Hernandez, orient me about the lumbering bureaucratic giant called the DSWD.
And so far, one of the hardest things about my job is how I keep wanting to go to Judy next door and hug her and pinch her cheeks and say, “You’re very galing, you know that? Good job. Keep it up!”.
I had lunch with her on my first day at work and I love that she hasn’t changed one bit from the pre-DSWD Judy I know. Warm, unaffected, humble—a public servant to the core—beyond-happy-to-serve, laser sharp and clear as clear can be. “We were invited to go to this or that but ayoko. Mukhang junket eh.” “Hindi natin pera yan. Pera ng taong-bayan yan.”
And the food is simple, carinderia food. Duterte style is Taguiwalo style.
And after we had lunch, no one hovered over us to get our plates and wash them because she thinks we can very well do that on our own (apparently, she has no idea who I am :D). Nagpanic ako, sa tutoo lang, when I finally figured out the Secretary’s directives because even though my father was a humble public servant who was never ostentatious about anything, the one perk of his job that I remember is he was treated like royalty and he had staff who did everything for him but chew his food. And my husband, when he was still active in military service and was an Army officer, had an entire battalion serve him hand on foot—including pour water into his glass when he ate. Seriously.
So there I was clearing the table of my pinagkainan and then washing my plate and spoon and fork and glass—something I hadn’t done in forever. Eh our meryenda was suman latik. The kind where, if you left it on your plate for hours like I did because I was reading, would stay stuck like cement on your plate and fork. So it took me forever to wash my stuff and the whole time my thought bubble was, “Para sa bayan, girl. Kaya mo to.” Alternating with, “Grabe tong mga leftist na to.” 😀 😀 Aamin ako, señorita ako—pero typical, like all of you! Haha..so wag kayo judgmental.
And my boss told me, because I asked her, that I can no longer okray certain government officials online BUT I can still show my love and appreciation for the president. Yey!! I know you guys are so disappointed that I can’t okray because I’m really good at it 😀 (how do you think I feel? 😀 Like I’m about to have a coronary haha) but I realize that a government job is no walk in the park. That all your waking hours will be the Filipino people’s now. So I am stretching in ways I have never stretched myself before. And so far, so good.
And I love my boss. (Sipsip!:D) Nowhere is a Secretary Judy Taguiwalo possible than in a Duterte presidency. You and I know this, right?
Judy has fought for social justice all her life. And even when the cost was personal liberty, she paid up front and got incarcerated and suffered horrible abuses in the hands of the military during the Marcos regime. And for all past administrations, Judy stood resolutely with the people—in the mountains, in their hovels, on the streets. Until this President opened the gates of Macañang to her and gave her a seat at the table.
That’s our president—a President of all—someone who reaches across political and ideological lines and says, “We are all Filipinos.”. And that’s my boss—champion of the oppressed. Together, they are a formidable force of good for the Filipino people.
Change has not only come but is at our dining room table enjoying the simple, honest food of real people. And he will get up and clear the table when you’re done. You’ll need to wash your own pinagkainan though.
Judy and Rody in the house.