Elderly couple augments income through singing

MAURA Vismanos, thin and slowed by her age, was walking a few meters behind her husband Gonzalo on the Butuanon Bridge in Mandaue City yesterday morning.

The 86-year-old mother of two did not shout at her husband, who is nine years her junior, to stop and wait for her.

“Mabiyaan ko niya pirme (He keeps going ahead),” she said.

Maura smiled while looking at Gonzalo. They were on their way to a neighborhood to sing songs in the hopes of getting gratuities.

The couple does not own cell phones. Trusting and understanding, Maura said, are their means of communication.

“Usahay magkabuwag mi, pero nagsabot na mi daan asa mi nga lugar mag-abot,” she said.

They have been singing old Cebuano songs since 1996 to augment their income from farming and raising livestock in their home village in Ronda, Cebu.

Maura carried a banjo yesterday, while Gonzalo slung a decade-old ukulele over his shoulder. Both play their respective instruments by the ear.

Maura and Gonzalo are staying in a relative’s house in Cebu City. They left for Mandaue City yesterday at 9 a.m.

Gonzalo said there were people who told him that he and his wife should stay in their home, but he just laughed them off. His children have also asked them to stay in their house, but he said they still have the strength to walk, travel, and sing.

Maura has kept a handwritten list of fiestas all over the Province of Cebu.

For this year, they started in Cebu City last January as it was Sinulog season. They have visited Toledo City, Pinamungajan, Liloan and Danao City, among others.

The singing duo included Christmas songs in their repertoire as the Yuletide season is here.

“Wala mi’y Iningles nga mga kanta (We don’t have English songs),” said Gonzalo.

He mentioned classic Cebuano ditties, such as “Gimingaw Ako” and “Matud Mo” as their favorites. The least the couple can earn in a day of singing is P500.

Maura said when they are in their home in Barangay Can-abuhon, their children forbid them to work too much. They raise livestock. Corn and root crops grow in their farm, which their daughter takes care of while they are away.

Gonzalo said that he and Maura will continue singing as long as their bodies would allow.

For Maura, she said listening is the key in their marriage that guides them to playing beautiful music together since they wed in the 1960s.

“Kon magpabadlong ni siya, usa ra ka sulti, tama na,” she said. “Kon ang away padak-on, way ayo kay walay kaayohan mahunahunaan.”
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