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3 Empowering Lessons We Learned Straight from the Tech Voc Community

“Maganda na pantay tayo lahat kasi may kaya ang babae na kaya rin ng lalaki at may kaya ang lalaki na kaya rin ng babae.” That was a quote from RR Rubion. She’s a welder from One Ayala AKA a woman in a male-dominated working environment. While gender stereotypes and biases are still present in everyday life, there are also trailblazers who aim to move past them.

At the Raise Her Voc Roundtable Discussion held last Sept. 11, 2021, we heard these types of open conversations about gender-based challenges and how women in the field have dismantled barriers to achieve their dreams. If you’re looking for a sign to get into Tech Voc, or the Technical-Vocational sector, this is it! 

For aspiring tech-voc students and professionals, take charge and carve out your own way regardless of what society may have long dictated throughout history. It’s time they start keeping with your goals instead!

Make Rising Above Stereotypes THE Norm

Joenna Tabu-Tattao, a Senior TESD Specialist, is one of those who have worked to rise above the gender stereotypes in the Tech Voc community during her work at TESDA Women’s Center. There, they initiate and implement gender development programs, gender sensitivity training, learning programs and offer scholarships for equal opportunity. 

The same goes for Jessie Cubijano, the Executive Director for Primary Structures Educational Foundation, Inc. His line of work has consisted of providing quality education for all, including out-of-school youth, marginalized women, and hearing-impaired people, and training uncertified, globally competent workers in industrial labor. From there, they’ve had programs to train women in construction.

And these are all great initiatives to hear! To think, in a country as traditional and patriarchal as the Philippines, there are those aiming to leave those conventions behind and move towards an inclusive future.

But as mentioned by Jessie, they’ve barely made a dent, and there is still so much to do. The gender-based challenges that the Tech Voc community goes through the only mirror what happens in society. And as modern, as we think we are, we still carry all the history, traditions, and standards our ancestors have gone through.

In a study of enrollment and completion of TESDA students’ education, Joenna mentioned that although gender participation is fairly 50/50 between men and women, there are still gendered sectors. The hard technical studies such as construction, automotive, and maritime are often masculinely linked. In contrast, soft trades such as garments, tourism, and health care were feminine linked. This is even seen in the workplace where physical labor industries specifically ask for men and disregard women altogether. This, making it difficult for women to excel and be taken seriously for their abilities.

So, while there are good programs out there, they are only exceptions to the rule. We must get rid of the limitations that place a cap on women’s success and put women in a box.

We Need to Give Our Support

Juliet Jonelas is a Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) NC II Trainee of the TESDA Women’s Center. She got into welding due to her own curiosity about the field. For her, it simply looked fun to do, and she continued to enjoy it as she studied. Her father, Joselito Jonelas, supports her career choice, and it shows as he joined Raise Her Voc to talk about his support as a parent for her dreams. He even explained tuition wasn’t an issue as TESDA was able to fund her education and provide her with an allowance. 

Meanwhile, for RR Rubion, she also had a supportive parent as it was her dad that urged her to be a welder. He, too, was a welder until he was promoted as supervisor. So, following in his footsteps, RR successfully picked up the course and, later on, as a profession. She was able to quickly get a job after graduation, and by this point, it’s been two years since she’s been in One Ayala.

Looking at their stories shows us that support can go a long way. As previously said by Joenna and Jessie, family and upbringing influence your beliefs and perspectives. It shapes you to be the kind of person you are and the choices you make. And with that, growing up with parents that do not place certain expectations on their children’s futures allows your children to make informed decisions they genuinely believe in. 

And as support starts within the family, we need to trickle it down to support from society as a whole. For every person who gets a scholarship, there are also those who don’t have a shot at education. For every person who has fought the stigma for their success, there are those who can’t get a seat on the table. 

Education is a crucial part of a society’s growth and progress. And if we have equal opportunities for education, we can shape a better society and thus change the system that allows sexism to run rampant. 

We Need to Value Tech Voc

“Walang trabahong less dignified than another trabaho. Lahat ng trabaho ay mahalaga in a developing and growing society,” says Jessie Cubijano. 

An unfortunate reality is people with manual, labor-intensive jobs, such as those in the Tech Voc sector, do not get the respect they deserve. This sort of work has been looked down on by social elites and the upper class in many societies from time immemorial. It’s been considered unskilled even until today when, in reality, it just falls under another type of skill. And most of the time, those that work in these sectors go through all kinds of hardships and grueling pains that workers in 9-to-5 jobs cannot begin to comprehend.

There have been perceptions that these kinds of jobs don’t result in much. When really, it’s not the case at all. The type of skills you learn from Tech Voc never goes out of style. More so in the COVID-19 pandemic that people need it now more than ever. Now, we’ve seen that there is a greater appreciation for the social value of this work. Because genuinely looking at them, they are essential workers that provide the backbone to our society. And many industries wouldn’t be able to thrive without them.

As more and more people from the Tech Voc industry are moving abroad for a decent living, it puts into perspective that we must uplift the Philippine workers we have here. At the end of the day, work is work. And occupations do not define who you are. In the same way, gender does not define your abilities. 

It’s time to shift the attitude of allowing clean-cut labels to define an entire person’s being and the burdens of it being placed on individuals. We must uplift one another, and simultaneously, we need the system to raise the value of the people. 

Watch the Raise Her Voc Roundtable Discussion here!

 

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