From Needle to Spade: The Story of Lady Mason in Homonhon Island
posted  06-09-2016 by Rizza Sacra/Oxfam

Homonhon, Island – The woman fixed her hair as she sat down beside her sewing machine, ready for the day’s work. By her mere look, one would think there’s nothing extraordinary about her—a typical housewife who stays at home, doing houshold chores while trying to earn a little income from sewing. But Daisy Badar is a no ordinary woman.

Daisy, 43, lives in Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar with her husband and four children. It was not an easy life for Daisy since her husband does not have permanent job and her eldest son, 19, has special needs. Despite the financial challenges, they strive hard to support their daughter attending college.

Sidekick No More

Daisy was a full time housewife until she was trained to become a woman mason. When Oxfam looked for masons who can be trained in constructing latrines for its sanitation marketing program, Daisy did not hesitate to apply despite dicouraging comments.

“My neighbors laughed at me. They called me “panday” (Filipino term for carpenter or mason). They said it’s a man’s job and I cannot do it. People asked if I’m a lesbian because I do a man’s job but I just ignored them. As long as I am helping my family, there’s no reason for me to be ashamed” she recalled.

Carrying bags of cement and hollow blocks is not new to Daisy. She used to work in a hollow block factory when she was still in Mindanao. She is used to performing the typical men’s work because that’s the way she was raised by her father.

Daisy’s motivation is driven by the financial needs of her family. She understands that it is not going to be easy leaving her children to her mother-in-law, especially her eldest son has special needs. But she cannot just rely on her husband’s seasonal work contracts. Their income is not enough to raise their children. Her husband is very supportive of her decision, and is proud that she will no longer be his assistant, but rather, a full time mason.

For now, Daisy will put down the needles and threads of her sewing machine for a while. Instead, a spade will keep her company in constructing latrines in Eastern Samar.

“I am nervous but I am confident that I can do it. I will always give my best so that people will be happy about my work. That’s a fulfillment for me,” Daisy said with a determined smile on her face.