Cebuana wins Tesda Batang Idol-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
WITH her petite stature, who would think she can operate heavy equipment like a toy, excavating earth for a building’s foundation?
Twenty-six-year-old Myrna Pitaluna’s drive for gender equality stood out when she found herself training on how to operate heavy equipment in one of the largest construction companies in central and southern Philippines. She was later absorbed by the company.
Pitaluna’s achievement in the male-dominated industry earned her this year’s Technical
Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Batang Idol.
Pitaluna is a Bachelor of Science in Education graduate at the University of Visayas campus in her hometown in Toledo City, but her chance to land a job related to her course was very slim considering the low demand for school teachers, prompting her to seek other opportunities.
“I really wanted to teach, but I was not able to find a job. However, there was an immediate need to find a job and help my mother,” Pitaluna said.
Being the eldest in a brood of four, Pitaluna took the responsibility of being the family’s breadwinner when the family was having problems. She had to help her mother who was then a househelper.
Upon learning of the training for a lady heavy equipment operator, she did not hesitate to grab the opportunity as the company would provide each trainee an allowance of P180 per day.
“I know how to operate bulldozer, mini-dozer, payloader, among others, but I specialize in operating backhoe,” she said.
She recalled her first assignment to excavate for a mall construction on N. Bacalso Ave. as very challenging.
“Jeepney drivers would stop when they see me operate the backhoe. I was amused, but challenged at the same time,” Pitaluna said.
The working environment was not very friendly in the beginning. She recalled being underestimated and was told she doesn’t belong in the construction industry.
“At first they were hesitant, and bullying was very rampant. The adjustment period was three to four months. I was challenged to stand firm that there should be gender equality even in the construction industry,” she said.
After her stint as a heavy equipment operator, she then trained for welding and was transferred to the manufacturing department in 2009, and later became a supervisor and a trainer.
In 2009, she enrolled in Tesda’s Assessment Methodology/Training Methodology (AMTM) for her to become a certified assessor and trainer of a specialized field. She later focused in steel fabrication and carpentry where she was promoted to supervise.
She said there were times when she would compare herself with her classmates in high school, who are working in airconditioned offices and banks. But, she would hold back and tell herself, “I can do what they are doing in the office, but they don’t know how to do my job.”
“I did not stop learning and went on acquiring new skills and national certification in Tesda. In the process, I didn’t realize that my company was helping me rise from the ranks. Now, I am handling more than 250 welders, painters, carpenters,” she said.
From earning P180 as allowance, she is now receiving P14,000 a month as a regular staff of a construction company.
With her salary, Petiluna was not only able to provide for the daily needs of her family, but managed to improve their house from a shanty into a two-storey building.
“We don’t have to sleep while sitting down, especially during the rainy days when our roof would leak. They are now comfortable in our new house,” she said.
Tesda’s values of hard work and perseverance are her key to achieving her dreams.
After getting almost all national certifications related to her field of work, she is now planning to enroll in the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program in one of the universities in Cebu so she can finish civil engineering and become an engineer one day.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 18, 2013.