Now that he earns for himself, “Nalipay ko kay dili na nako maperwisyo ang akong mga igsoon. Makapalit na ko gikan sa akong hinagoan. Kanang, mabuhi kog inusara (I’m happy that I can now fend for myself).”
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — By mid-afternoon, masseurs and masseuses start arriving in front of the Justiniano Borja Monument, within the stretch of the Golden Friendship Park in this city’s Divisoria district.
With their prescribed uniform, bottle of alcohol and face mask, they wait for customers, old and new. Their escorts, meanwhile, are beginning to pitch the tents and arranging the white plastic chairs.
Eleoterio Galula, 60, has been offering his service since 2007. He said, he works as early as 3PM and as late as 3AM, from Monday to Sunday. A certified therapeutic blind masseur, he has massaged customers from all gender and walks of life.
“I earn 800 pesos (USD 19.24) on good days and take home only 200 pesos (USD 4.81) on ordinary days,” Galula said in an interview with davaotoday.com. But, back when masseurs and masseuses in Divisoria are still few in numbers, he said, he earned at most over a thousand pesos (USD 24.04+).
A half-body massage is priced at 50 pesos (USD 1.20). It’s either a foot-and-leg massage or head-and-lower back massage. It takes about 25 minutes per session. The price and session time are doubled, if the customer asks for a whole body massage.
Galula shared that in 2006, only two people started plying their trade in this side of the city, one blind and the other sighted. Their numbers increase through the years.
There are 20 of them, both male and female, under the Holistic Therapeutic Blind Masseurs, a group of trained reflexologists. Sixteen of them are blind.
According to blind.org.ph, a non-government organization serving the blind, there are about half a million people in the country today who are blind and visually impaired.
Galula’s condition is not congenital. He said, when he was four years old he suffered from measles, one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, according to the lightfortheworld.nl, a foundation that helps the blind and visually impaired.
Measles caused his blindness. And from then on, Galula depended on his family, unable to live and find work like any normal individuals. He’s the eldest in a brood of nine.
A native of Bohol in Visayas, he spent most of his life in their farm, raising and selling chickens. But in 2006, Galula decided to migrate in Cagayan de Oro City. He said, he’s been here a lot of times before. This is where Galula’s mother settled when the latter married again after the death of his father.
Galula said it was the president of their association who introduced him to massage therapy. He added, it inspired him and pushed him to undergo training.
“Naningkamot lang gyud ko nga maka-training aron makatrabaho. Nalipay sab akong mga igsoon, (I decided to go on training to land a job. It made my family happy)” he said.
He said, he underwent six-month training under the Department of Health’s Hilot Kabuhayan. He earned his certificate in Massage Therapy NC II at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
He said, his association regularly secures a permit from the local government for their operation in this side of Divisoria. They also get to purchase tents and chairs from their weekly dues of 100 pesos (USD 2.40).
Now that he earns for himself, “Nalipay ko kay dili na nako maperwisyo ang akong mga igsoon. Makapalit na ko gikan sa akong hinagoan. Kanang, mabuhi kog inusara. (I’m happy that I can now fend for myself.)”
Love is not blind
Galula may be old and blind, but these did not hinder him from finding love.
Over a year of working as a massage therapist in Divisoria, love blossomed between him and vendor Analiza Nalagon, 37.
“Two years mi nga nag-uyab before mi nag-ipon (We were sweethearts for two years before we lived together),” Nalagon told davaotoday.com.
They are staying at the house of Galula’s brother in Iponan village for more than a year now.
“Nagatabang lang mig bayad sa tubig ug kuryente. Sa among konsumo, kami na (We just helped pay the water and electric bills, while we buy our own food and other needs),” Galula said.
Nalagon accompanies Galula to work everyday. She now sells beauty products and sidelines as a massage therapist in Divisoria. It was Galula who trained her on reflexology.
“It’s my first time to try their service here,” Jeselle Aloc, 25, tolddavaotoday.com.
A native of Zamboanga del Norte, Aloc said, she frequents the masseuses in Davao City’s San Pedro Street when she was deployed there by her non-life insurance company back in 2008 to 2009. But, since her deployment in CDO in 2010, it was only now that she tried the massage service in Divisoria.
“Nindot. Maka-relax, makawala’g stress (It’s very relaxing),” she said referring to the couple’s service. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)World