An Igorot’s tale
Erwin Casiw of Barangay Poblacion, Paracelis, Mountain Province is the average Cordilleran with his built and posture. This man, however, is much more than what you see.
After 22 years of marriage, Erwin and his wife, Astrophel, are blessed with nine children and two grandchildren. A full-blooded Igorot, Erwin believes that as long as you can provide for your family, the number of children is not an issue. Erwin’s family may not be rich but he believes that children are the best blessings a couple can receive.
He understood that although he is the man of the house, he still has responsibilities. He has been the mother and father of their children even after his wife recuperated from giving birth. He has blurred the lines of social and gender norms when it comes to dealing with household chores.
Not being able to finish his studies, he values education much in life and he wants to impart to all his children that being educated is the best way to succeed. Faced with financial constraints, he had to give up schooling but Erwin believes that one can continue learning through experience. He believes that every day is a learning experience and every person and every encounter is an opportunity to learn.
Although he did not earn a degree, he makes sure that his children won’t suffer the same fate. He works hard and is determined to send all his nine children to school. His children did not take this opportunity for granted. Two of his daughters are graduates of Bachelor of Science in Social Work, and one graduated with honors last year. His son is enrolled in the Alternative Learning System while his younger children are active in school.
Erwin is not just a husband and father. He is also active in various organizations in his community. He is a member of a couple of organizations in and out the municipality and is currently the president of the Paracelis Abat Farmers Development Association, Inc. (Pafda), the first civil society organization accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Standards Unit in Paracelis. The organization caters to banana farmers in the town. One of his tasks as president is to work with stakeholders to improve banana farming in the municipality while also taking care of the environment through their alternative farming ways.
He also attended seminars on financial literacy and market mentoring and coaching among other seminars, through the aid of the Japan Social Development Fund. Aside from Pafda, he is also active in the Mataguan Organization, Farm First Association, and Licoy Organization. He also participates during community fiestas and Indigenous Peoples Month celebrations.
Having nine children is not easy but Erwin said it had been easier with his wife Astrophel.
One of the greatest challenges they encountered was when their daughter got pregnant in 2015 and had to leave her studies for a year to take care of her baby. When asked how he handled it, he said rather than being violent towards his daughter, he explained to her the disadvantages of getting pregnant at an early age and taught her how to care of herself during and after pregnancy.
As a Cordilleran, Erwin is expected to be superior than women. But he has shown that this is not the only way a man can become successful. Erwin has been committed to imparting his knowledge and experience not only to his family but also to his fellow men. He is thankful for the Family Development Sessions topics on gender sensitivity, women’s rights, and anti-violence against women and children because these have helped him understand and taught him how he can help in promoting women’s welfare.
“Even if we say that a man is naturally stronger than a woman, there are things that only women can do (that men can’t). We also need to participate in each other’s work and always work hand in hand. I think this is the highest form of respect,” he said.