The Northern Forum Features
(Editor’s Note: Your local newspaper starts a series this issue on these individuals who steered their husbands into the political arena of Cagayan. At times, they are at the forefront, at most, they prefer to stay in the background overseeing the minutest details their husband might have overlooked. They are the secrets weapons to where their husbands are now. They go by the name, MAYORA.)
“All my younger years, we were trained to be poor. It’s difficult to be one.” – Josephine Decena, 2013 Iddu Honor Awardee
To be functional, the famous double-bladed weapon, Veinte Nueve, needs constant sharpening. So does Josephine Decena of Laurel, Batangas who calls Barangay Maddarulug, Enrile, Cagayan her home for the last three decades or so.
Jo just added another feather to her cap when her husband, Miguel Decena, Jr., won a hotly-contested mayoralty race in Enrile. As a silent worker, she is behind the very successful family-owned Fresh Kanok chicken meat production industry in Luzon. Unknown to many, Josie has been working all her life even as she was destined to be an entrepreneur.
Unlike those born with the proverbial silver spoon, she virtually started very young than most. As a young girl, she never wasted time and sold anything that spelled money, did barong embroidery and other menial jobs for relatives back home. It was a time when young girls her age prefer to pass the time playing, flirting or day-dreaming.
“ All my younger years, we were trained to be poor. It’s difficult to be one,” the bubbly Josie said as she showed her pair of sturdy and callous hands, seasoned by manual labor.
Today, she admits that even if people perceived them as financially-stable as a result of hard work, she has maintained an aura of humility and simplicity not often seen in people who found a breather from economic woes.
“My real wealth is my family. I’m working doubly hard for them, “ she said.
For Josie, life had been full of unexpected twists and turns but as a good pilot that she is, she bounces back from where she has fallen. When she decided to become a Cagayano by virtue of her marriage to husband, Miguel, a true-blue Itawes, it was her turning point. Her head high and fueled by an intense love and affection for the family she was just starting, Josie began to put to good use her early trainings on entrepreneurship; Miguel , the mastery on the art of mobile vending.
She virtually went into a 24/7 schedule providing the necessary moral and physical support to her husband who equally shares the same passion for labor. She went into retail business, raised farm animals, bought and sold anything of value as she kept on discovering what the local market demands.
When the family went into corn farming to increase the family coffers, her farm workers were surprised when Josie would teach them the proper way of distancing plant hills.
“I have been a farm hand back in my younger years in Batangas,” she said.
What she is now as a woman was never a chance. It was the result of real hard work, business acumen, sacrifices, hits and misses and personal self-denials. -Arapangmedia
(Conclusion: Struggles and challenges as adrenalin)
“Don’t tell me how it is to be poor. I’ve been there. I have experienced all forms of poverty.” – Josephine Decena, Iddu Honor Roles for Women Anthology, page 25-26, published by PIA, March 2015
For Josephine Decena, the new Mayora come June 30, 2019, hard work, business acumen, sacrifices, hits and misses and personal denials are all but part of the bigger picture; her being a very religious woman.
“I see to it that the family goes to Sunday mass. It humbled us and gave us the chance to thank the Creator for all the goodness He has given us,” she said.
Admittedly, it is this unshakeable faith that continuously provided her the strength in her hours of uncertainties and challenges. As a mother, she breastfed her children and never hired a nursing aid during those growing years. She has imparted in her children, namely Mark Joseph, Bryan James, Eljohn Miguel and Maria Jamel, the value of labor, respect to others and money management.
“Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan ko. A simple ‘I love you’ from my children makes my day. Pero moody ako. Huwag mo akong gugulatin o bibiglain, “she warns.
With a sigh, she says there will always be trials and when they come, one should never think of oneself but of the children. Under such circumstances, a mother should make sacrifices for them. Josie personified simplicity to the highest degree and gets peeved with people who boast a lot.
“Galit ako sa mga mayayabang. Lahat na yata ng uri ng kahirapan, narasanan ko na. I know the situation and how one feels when thrown into such situation. Don’t tell me how it is to be poor because I’ve been there. As long as I can help, I will,” Josie added.
A farm hand who requested anonymity said the Decena family, Josie in particular, has always been like a big sister to the employees and house help especially during emergencies.
Ironically, the struggles and challenges have become her own adrenalin that perked her to do better and to outsmart herself in her daily routine.
She said that while poverty is a hindrance, it should be the power to propel one to succeed.
Despite the gains she has made in the field of business, Josie remains unfazed. At her age, she knew that the road leading to the kind of life she never had as a young Batanguena has been paved.
But Josie, in her wildest imagination never dreamt of seeing herself as the wife of a Mayor. It just came. Because it’s something new, adjustments will have to be made by each and every member of the Decena family.
“Who we are, we will always be. Why should politics change the way we perceive things?” she said.
For Josie Decena, beautiful hands are those that work. It will be the same hands that will help her husband in a new road less taken; the road to public service. Benjie S. De Yro/northernforum.net