Ngelitel El Dil (Profiling Women on ABC)

By Santy Asanuma

Only the best women from ranking households (blai) in the community would be called upon to take their places in traditional dance formation once upon a time in the past. To this day, they are still called “emachel” (literally referring to them as chew like betel nuts and pepper leafs). These are the chosen ones and one cannot be mistaken to take a place not bestowed upon her by rights of her membership to a clan. These women are the cream of the crop that portrait (ochotii) the best of us especially during “klechedaol” (cultural visitation exchange) to another community.

This system is still practiced today but like many other traditions it have been subjected to outside mentality and influence and somewhat eroded (mla meterakl) to the point where disputes are rampant (katotaod) who should not be in this elite group. Some women nowadays assert (toribech) themselves into the ranks of “emachel” because they are wealthy or have highly recognized careers such as being a director, teacher, nurse, attorney, doctors, engineer, or married to government officials and not necessarily by cultural status.

Because today authority is directly tied with how much money you have, many of the rightful “emachel” usually shy away from taking their stance according to tradition and give way to these new breed of women who are known to use aggression and intimidation openly and freely to secure their position in clan and community affairs. The rightful “emachel” are simple and endorse non-belligerence (medemedemek) and silence as the code of propriety (kerbai ra lemalt, ungil lomeruul, ngariou el reng ma omengull). This is a trend where the rightful “emachel” are losing their grounds because their competitors appear to be more popular and receive wider approval from the community.

These new breed of women if they had their way would do away (te chetirir) with established criteria of traditions so that they would have say in matters or gain more recognition and respect in the community. In this way, they can impose their own interpretation of customs as new rules for others to following. This is the current trend among women. This social anomaly (omeruul el uleiit ra tekoi ra eleuodel el mei) in character is spilling into customary classification of women in-laws (buchel sechal) based on their services and contribution of food to the funeral.

This has become a domain of power for women to decide according to their whims (ng di mengedengodech a uldesuir ma sorir) which lacks any form and procedures therefore only in the head of the beholder (ngkel melekoi). Any attempt to understand this is next to looking for another earth in the universe. Yet they magically come up with a list of women in-laws by descending ranks and amounts from the top to the bottom. The most important are class A, Class B being the middle, and class C are the lowest.

That is where all hell breaks loose when these in-laws start calling each other to find out how much others got in their envelopes. Women do not want to be ranked low or C for any reason and will push on their husbands fiercely to seek amends (morengii a ngeroel e a udoud a kirel medechel) from the clan women bosses. If the traditions were followed, we would not be in this mess of profiling women on ABC statuses. As much as they are the homemakers, women have become the cause of tension and disruption within families these days with their “buchel sechal” of ABC.


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