Gen­der and the ocean

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY: DAPHNE PADILLA

JUNE 8 was World Ocean’s Day and the United Na­tions has des­ig­nated this year’s theme as “Gen­der and the Ocean”. The theme high­lights the im­por­tant role gen­der equal­ity has to play in en­sur­ing ef­fec­tive con­ser­va­tion of our oceans, seas and marine life in such ocean-re­lated ar­eas as marine sci­en­tific re­search, mi­gra­tion by sea and hu­man traf­fick­ing, and pol­icy-mak­ing.

Rare-Philip­pines, a marine group based in Cebu, cited that: women and chil­dren are 14 times more likely to die or get in­jured in nat­u­ral dis­as­ters due to un­equal ac­cess to re­sources, women con­sti­tute half of the work­force yet earn only 64% of men’s wages in aqua­cul­ture and have less ac­cess to de­ci­sion-mak­ing po­si­tions, women con­sti­tute only 2% of the 1.2 mil­lion sea­far­ers and fi­nally, only 24% of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans

and 38% of marine sci­en­tists are women.

But gen­der equal­ity, though pop­u­larly skewed to­wards women, is also about the LGBTQIA and in the is­land of Ayoke, Suri­gao del Sur a pop­u­lar go-to for the women is Kas­ing.

Ayoke Is­land and can only be ac­cessed through boats at the Can­ti­lan port. A one-hour ride in this part of the Pa­cific Ocean brings one to part of the is­land’s shore iden­ti­fied only as a “port” be­cause it is crowded by boats. Ayoke’s near­est busi­ness area is the Gen­eral Is­land (a 15-minute boat ride) and of course, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Can­ti­lan.

With a pop­u­la­tion of less than a thou­sand and those left be­hind in the house­holds are women, one then won­ders who has kept the is­land women good-look­ing and ad­e­quately groomed. The an­swer is Kas­ing.

Kas­ing or Casiano is the is­land’s “queen” and he holds court in­side his two-story house on al­most a daily ba­sis. We chanced upon him perming some­one’s long tresses while we were head­ing to the tiny Rare Philip­pines-spon­sored dried fish fa­cil­ity. I was lead to his house by the un­mis­tak­able strong smell of Pagoda cold wave lotion - the cold wave lotion of my mama and aunts when they permed their hair at home.

Cas­ing boasted of his long ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in par­lors in Zam­boanga City and then in Manila. But he

de­cided to go home to take care of his ail­ing par­ents and their co­conut farm in Ayoke and other prop­er­ties nearby. He also talked about get­ting “too old” for the fast-paced life and that the is­land had al­ways been home.

Be­ing gay in Ayoke, he said, was not an is­sue. As a res­i­dent, Cas­ing proudly shares that he is of­ten consulted about var­i­ous mat­ters prob­a­bly be­cause of his “long ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in big cities and not be­cause of his gen­der.” One of this was about join­ing the sav­ings club project of Rare. Cas­ing en­cour­aged this hop­ing that Ayoke chil­dren can get col­lege ed­u­cated through bet­ter fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy. Cas­ing him­self had some col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. The res­i­dents are happy that they no longer have to go to Gen­eral Is­land for their ‘beau­ti­fi­ca­tion projects’ be­cause Cas­ing, its lone timid queen, is keep­ing every­one in Ayoke Is­land shining, shim­mer­ing, splen­did.

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