It’s not a very happy day in the Keating household. There are some smiles, but they are not as broad as they usually are. No one is looking anyone else in the eye. Mostly, everyone is looking down at the floor.
Love is in the air and, just as Justice is blind, Cupid is accurate. He let loose an arrow and it hit its mark. I can recognize Cupid’s work – he hit both Emy and me an number of years ago. The effects of his potion-tipped arrows are still coursing through us. I don’t know if that potion has a “best if used by” or an expiration date. It’s still working.
Cupid’s target, this time, was our katulang. I don’t know if she tried to duck and was pierced by a richochet, or even if she knew she was Cupid’s target. But that’s all history, now. He hit his mark. Our katulang will be leaving us for the man she loves. We’re sad that she will be going.
Though she wasn’t as “spic and span” as Emy would like, she still did a better than halfway job. She’s a cousin, and we were helping her family by employing her. Now, who knows what the future holds in store for her.
For us, the future holds a somewhat fearful search for a new katulang. Where to go? Who to see? Are there any available whom we can trust with our belongings? Can we trust a new katulang as we could our love-struck katulang? The questions mount and seem to multiply whenever one is answered. The thought of a stranger living with us in the house brings out the worst of mental scenarios.
There’s nothing that makes a poor Kano feel like a stranger in a strange country than looking for a maid. My upbringing was one in a blue-collar family, where Mom did most of the heavy lifting and the siblings helped out with child-sized chores. (Those chores grew in size as we grew.) The idea of having a maid was something that never crossed our minds. We heard maids on radio shows and saw them on television but, in every case, it was the well to do who employed them.
Lucky for me, having a katulang or two is practically a way of life here in the Philippines. While Emy’s family didn’t have one at first, they hired one after Emy hit high school age. All of our friends and most of our extended family members have katulangs. So, our household isn’t at an extreme disadvantage in the experience department. We’ll just be stuck without a katulang until we find a replacement.
Finding a katulang right now is difficult. We’ve asked friends and relatives to help us in our search and I believe they are. The problem we currently face is that there just isn’t the “workforce” as available as we thought it would be. Looking out into the rice fields behind the house, I can see one possible reason why. With plentiful water (thanks to all of the rains this season), just about every available square meter of land is being planted in hopes of a bountiful harvest later this year. Families are busy planting and that includes our potential katulang. If she’s out there, I wish she would raise her hand!
Another possible reason that our search is having difficulty is that we live outside of the poblacion (town proper). In town, potential katulangs are not doing much rice planting. I can’t say what they are doing other than, perhaps, going to a trade school. The municipality boasts a very large number of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and their monthly remittances help to pay tuition and other school expenses.
Once education is complete, the cycle begins anew with the fresh graduate applying for an overseas position so as to earn enough money to remit back home and help the next sibling along. It’s a great system for a family’s financial improvement, and a very resourceful way of helping other family members. It seems ironic, however, that many of these OFWs work as katulangs in other countries. Gee, we have the perfect opportunity for them right here, if we can find one.
Whenever we find a candidate, it will be Emy’s job to interview her, research her references (if there are any), and be the person to hire and fire. Me? My job is to allow the process to occur smoothly without interfering and to keep from romantic entanglements. Not to worry – I have no desire to interfere or to go anywhere beyond the first stage of flirting and kindness. If 32+ years of marriage have taught me anything, it has taught me that baket ko (asawa ko) [my spouse] is boss of her house and that other women are intended for other men. All I have to do is keep my nose out of Emy’s business while keeping it clean. Stay away, Cupid!