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Mommy Power: The House that Barter Built

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Those who say that women are the weaker species have not met strong women. Or maybe, those ladies were not given the chance. But what if two women, seasoned with the challenges of life, come together for a cause? They can even have a house built! Here is the story of mommy power with the house that barter built in Bago City, Negros Occidental. Read more about Bacolod Mommy Joan and her trusted household companion, Nanay Pacit.

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~ Nanay Pacit with her children and grandchildren in front of her new house. ~

Loyalty and Friendship Between Two Moms

We all have heard stories of “horror helpers”. You might have experienced one or two as well. I most certainly had one “horror yaya” with delusions of grandeur who used to hurt our Achi Shawna.

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~ Mommy Joan and Nanay Pacit have formed a strong friendship. ~

But for Bacolod mom Joan Honoridez, she found a life-long friend in her household help, Nanay Pacit.

Mommy Joan, or Teacher Joan to us, is a Bacolod artist who had been one of our daughter’s mentors in painting. She is an avid social media user who allows us to vicariously live her life though her Facebook posts.

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~ Nanay Pacit is known among Mommy Joan’s artist-friends because she also helps in their projects, such as this mural. ~

She has an online album called “The World According to Pacit,” which gives us a glimpse of Pacit’s simple yet sometimes jaded understanding of life. Through that, many of her friends feel like they already know Nanay Pacit.

How Pacit Came to Their Household

Mommy Joan is a single mom to Youtuber and expert HMUA Bea Mocorro. When Bea was starting in college, they needed a household help, as Mommy Joan also had a full-time job while accepting art commissions on the side.

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~ Bea Mocorro — the gal behind Makeup by Booya. ~

Nanay Pacit used to work for Mommy Joan’s mom, but because of a misunderstanding between the two women, Pacit was let go.

Meanwhile, Mommy Joan had the choice of taking in Pacit or another young applicant. Bea, who already knew Pacit, preferred the older, more mature, and motherly woman over the younger girl. Nanay Pacit’s termination became serendipitous for Mommy Joan and Bea.

So Pacit had been with them for five years now. She is a loyal and committed helper–hardworking, resourceful, and willing to try new things. She also helped Mommy Joan with some art projects because she is pretty nifty.

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~ Mommy Joan, Bea, Nanay Pacit, and her grandson, RJ. ~

Eventually, the two women shared a very strong bond of friendship.

Mommy Joan’s Wish for Nanay Pacit

Mommy Joan wanted to take Pacit on a trip to her old home in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. Yes, Pacit is a native of Nueva Ecija but she has never returned to her birthplace ever since she left by boat 35 years ago. She came to Negros Occidental with her husband and two young children.

At 60 years old, Pacit has reached the age of retirement in the Philippines. But at this point, she has never had any contact with her siblings or other relatives so she doesn’t know if they are still alive.

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~ Pacit’s family has settled in the countryside of Bago City in the province of Negros Occidental. Here they are hauling cut bamboo on a carabao cart for Pacit’s house. Meanwhile, the children just play happily, unaware of the dangers of Covid-19. ~

Pacit is now a widow with 5 children who are also poor like her. Mommy Joan tried to find Pacit’s relatives on Facebook but found no names that matched.

“It is my wish to repay her faithful service by reconnecting her with her family. Perhaps, I can also give her a modest little home and garden for her impending retirement,” Mommy Joan’s wishful thinking in the past.

Pacit can barely read and has never traveled on an airplane. So many things have changed since her sojourn to Negros Occidental in the Visayas, so Joan planned to go with her.

It will also be an adventure for Mommy Joan because she has never been to Gapan. They didn’t know what to expect or if they will even have a place to stay there.

Nanay Pacit’s Childhood and Cruel Life

According to Pacit, she grew up with three other sisters and a brother. Claiming that she is the ugly duckling among their siblings, she believes that it is the reason why her mother had been so cruel to her.

At a young age, she was made to do all the household chores and was ordered to work the rice fields until her hands bled. Meanwhile, her sisters were lazy and did no work at all. She couldn’t understand why her mother treated her differently. Sounds like a real-life Cinderella story, doesn’t it?

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~ Pacit has only learned hard work all her life. She loves gardening, too. ~

When she was 10 years old, her mother sent her off to work as a housemaid. She would cry so hard because she could hardly wash adult men’s jeans among other things in a mountain of laundry. Like any villain in a telenovela, her mother would collect her salary during paydays and leave nothing for her.

Experiencing Verbal and Physical Abuse

At home, Pacit was also whipped and struck so hard that she developed a severe skin infection on her legs. If she was physically abused, it wouldn’t be surprising if she was verbally abused as well. She wished that she could simply run away from that hell of a home!

Pacit related that one time, her mother told her that she was just picked up from somewhere and was not her real daughter. Whether it was true or the reason why her mother was cruel only to her, she has no idea.

All she knew was that, she needed to get out of there.

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~ Nanay Pacit is no stranger to hard work. Here she gathers sand and rocks from the river for her home. ~

Marriage As a Means of Escape

When a man from Negros Occidental came to work in Nueva Ecija and offered to marry her, Pacit did not hesitate. However, she later found out that the man she married used a different name. She only knew him as Edgardo, which complicated her marriage certificate.

That was the reason why she wasn’t able to claim death benefits when her husband passed away. It turned out that his real name was Simplecio.

So while Pacit was able to escape a hellish life from the hands of a woman she called mother, she still wasn’t able to escape a life of poverty in her husband’s hometown.

After her two children, she gave birth to twin girls and another daughter here in Negros, making her brood to five.

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~ The framework of Nanay Pacit’s dream house, which eventually became a modern bahay kubo. It’s no longer a nipa hut because it has G.I. sheets for the roofing. ~

The day she left Gapan, her mother and sisters did not come out of the house to bid her goodbye. So somehow, Mommy Joan wished for Pacit to find closure or perhaps even have a happy ending with her siblings.

Fund-Raising Efforts for Nanay Pacit

Mommy Joan sought to raise funds for this homecoming trip to Gana. Her target was $2000, which she thinks would be enough for the airfare, food, accommodations, and other travel expenses they might incur. Aside from Nanay Pacit, she wanted to bring Pacit’s son, Bernand, and one of her grandsons, RJ.

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~ Nanay Pacit with RJ at the Christmas Village in Bacolod City. ~

RJ was inspired to take his studies seriously when Mommy Joan brought him to the airport where he saw an airplane for the first time. He wanted to work on an airplane so he committed to his schooling in order to fulfill his dream.

“Among all of Pacit’s grandchildren, I like RJ the most for his attitude, determination, and diligence. I think that he would be the one who is most likely to succeed and overcome poverty one day,” Mommy Joan proudly declares.

They planned to go last Holy Week but Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown happened. So all their hopes and plans were cancelled as well.

Pacit’s Home: The House that Barter Built

Instead of just wallowing with what-could-have-beens, Joan and Pacit went on with their lives. They made it a point to survive the pandemic.

It all started with a wish. Pacit wanted a small house of her own for her retirement years. She wanted it separate from her children’s homes but not far from them either.

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~ Instead of a simple native cottage (nipa hut), the barter community gave Pacit more stable construction materials for her home. ~

The Barter of Prized Paintings

When the lockdown happened last March, something amazing developed – the Bacolod Barter Community.

Then Mommy Joan had a brilliant idea. “I thought that I could barter my paintings for some construction materials for Pacit’s house. The dream was just a small nipa hut. But when the barter deals started, a lot of my paintings started flying off the wall or from my baul (wooden chest),” Mommy Joan enthuses.

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~ Pacit’s house was starting to take form in this photo. The walls even have finishing. ~

That was the start of the epic saga of the house that barter built.

Mommy Joan: The Barter Queen

In exchange for her different artworks, Mommy Joan got these construction materials:

  • 12 G.I. sheets
  • 500 pcs. hollow blocks
  • Pull-out doors
  • Carpentry tools
  • Electrical wirings
  • Lighting fixtures
  • 6 bags of cement
  • A sink and faucet
  • Iron cables (kabelya)
  • PVC pipes
  • Toilet bowl
  • 5 kg. nails
  • 65pcs 60x60cm tiles
  • Door knobs
  • Folding table and chairs
  • Curtains and curtain rods
  • A mattress
  • Tarpaulins
  • Red oxide paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Vulcaseal

Mommy Joan is another certified barter queen!!!

Food Stuff and Supplies

Meanwhile, they let go of orchids and other ornamental plants in exchange for more materials, as well as food and supplies for Pacit’s five children and their respective households. They even got coffee, snacks, and rum for the carpenters.

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~ Some of the supplies for Pacit from barter. ~

Community Involvement

Due to the online buzz for Pacit, some of Mommy Joan’s friends sent cash to pay for the labor or buy additional construction materials. They bought more sand, gravel, bamboo, lumber, plain sheet, and many other unforeseen necessities.

And don’t think Nanay Pacit didn’t lift a finger. She paid for the hauling and carpentry fees out of her little savings. She hope to receive *SAP from the government to help with the expenses, however, she was sadly excluded.

*SAP is the Social Amelioration Program of the Philippine government.

The Force of Two Women

Not to be put down, the two women helped each other in order to realize Pacit’s dream house. From a nipa hut, the house that barter built is now made of sturdier materials that they can both be proud of. Yes, it’s katas ng barter!

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~ The power of this hardworking duo. During the quarantine, they had this house that barter built. ~

The “mayor” or the main portion of the house is about complete. With more help coming in, Pacit’s home improvement continues with the construction of a toilet, and hopefully, a palayas. This will include a living room plus kitchen and dining area in one.

Additionally, Pacit put up a fence around her granny pod so that she can protect her garden from her grandchildren who like to play with plants.

Hoping for a Peaceful Retirement

Pacit has lived a difficult yet fulfilling life. She wants to be able to retire in peace—surrounded by family but with some distance so that she can have her own private space.

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~ How Pacit’s life has changed with the house that barter built. She thanks everyone for all the help. ~

This is the main reason why she wants her own place–for her peace of mind and tranquility. Her house that barter built still needs more bamboo and roofing materials for the palayas, so Mommy Joan has committed to keep on bartering her paintings and plants until the extension is complete.

Kudos to these two Bacolod mommies!

WATCH

Here is a video of the house that barter built from the vlog of Mommy Joan Honoridez.

Other Covid-19 Stories

Meanwhile, here are other Covid-19 stories in this blog.

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~ Nanay Pacit’s new life at her new home. Sweeping the yard is part of her new normal. ~
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