Yesterday was the beginning of the new year of 2012. It was such a wonderful day and a great start of the year so I gave myself a break from laundry duty and my role of “labandera” in our house.
“Labandera” is a Filipino word that translates to “laundry lady” in English. If you grew up in the Philippines it is not unusual to have a dedicated person in your household who does the laundry.
Traditionally, in pictures a labandera was featured squatting in front of a basin scrubbing clothes while smoking a cigar with the hot ash end in her mouth. I am not sure why labanderas were associated with this risky kind of smoking.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, before washing machines and dryers were common, the laundry was washed by hand. Each item was then hung and air dried. When all items were dry they were then carefully ironed, even denim jeans, bed sheets and underwear.
The labandera was always a woman and her role in the household staff was so crucial and essential.
While living in the Philippines we had many “labanderas” who came in and out of our life.
Now that I live in Connecticut, and I do not have household help, I always reminisce about the labanderas I grew up with. I realize just how lucky I was to have a full time cleaner at my service.
When I do the laundry in Connecticut I always chuckle to myself that karma has hit me big time!
I remember how demanding I could be towards our labandera, especially when I wanted something ironed at that moment. After I got my ironed clothes I usually would try it on and then drop it on the floor if I didn’t like the clothing choice I made. I would then make the labandera iron something else. Sometimes this process would go on and on for quite some time.
Our house was equipped with an intercom system and I must have sounded like a spoiled brat at the end of the receiver when I made my demands.
Life in the US, especially with being the designated laundry lady of the house, has humbled me. I don’t cringe at my past behavior because that was just how life was in the Philippines, but I just laugh at it since it was so long ago.
My husband and kids do not bug me about getting their laundry done, but since it is my duty I push myself to do it (eventually).
Happy New Year once again! May 2012 bring you much joy and blessings!