The Story of Raquel F. Dumayas, Lady Inventor
By Rioliza Molina and Rosfe Badoy
In a world where majority of rules and norms are created by men themselves, sometimes being a woman is difficult. Although pluralistic by nature and thus, governed by multiple world views and philosophies, this society and its rules do not always favor women. However, in every generation, there’s a woman or a group of women who push the boundary, break the norms and champion equality. For instance, Joan of Arc, whose life was spent leading armies and carrying banners, proved that women can triumph amidst a war created by men. Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, defied the expectation that a woman must be married to a man as this would complete her womanhood, as if marriage was a woman’s responsibility. To protect her reign, she vowed not to marry any man and went down as one of the most successful rulers in all of old England. Going forward, a woman of color helped NASA launched its first astronaut in space. Katherine Johnson and two (2) other women of color were key contributors to NASA’s space race successes in the 60’s and 70’s. The Philippines, at the same time, has had its fair share of triumphant women who have championed gender equality and empowerment. Maria Rosa Henson brought about a societal awakening towards comfort women during the Japanese invasion. Timely and relevant, Henson’s literary works which contained her life experiences as a comfort woman touched hundreds of lives and inspired women to always fight for themselves because no one would do it for them.
A woman, given the opportunity and freedom, can change anything she touches or stumbles upon her path. She can take an object and transform it as if it were the most precious thing in the planet. And that’s exactly what a particular Filipina did when she was given that opportunity. Just like other women who have championed self-efficacy and empowerment, she has faced challenges and jumped around hurdles after hurdles, but everything started paying off in the end. Meet Raquel F. Dumayas, a lady inventor.
Raquel F. Dumayas, a technology instructor from General Santos, proved everyone that women are problem-solvers, innovative and most importantly, relevant in the world of industrial technology. She invented a device called “A Snap-on Hand-Type Pinch-Off Tool.” This invention was developed to help women working in the refrigeration and air-conditioning servicing industry, an up and coming industry that is male-dominated. This device helps women perform tasks originally for men in the most convenient ways.
The device, which started off as a prototype, was developed to provide solution to the difficulty in executing pinching operations where pressure tight seal is required. It also eliminates gender problems especially that the technologies used in this industry can only be used by men as they require enormous strength that majority of women do not possess. However, the birth of this invention gives women the opportunity to perform pinching really fast, sometimes even faster than men can. In addition, this device doesn’t just help women in general but also gives opportunity for persons with disabilities and men who aren’t physically strong.
Raquel in action
The inventor, Raquel, has been teaching in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) - General Santos National School of Arts and Trades for 13 years and she’s seen it all – the struggles of women in using devices that are originally created for men, the stereotypes and discriminations against women in this industry, and so she thought, “How do we solve this problem? How do we eliminate the struggles and make things easier not just for women but also for people with disabilities?” The Snap-on Hand-Type Pinch-Off Tool then was born.
Raquel was born in a small, laid-back town of Asuncion in Davao del Norte and was educated in public schools during her primary and secondary education. She then went to Davao City and got herself a degree in Technology Teacher Education at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), a state university situated at the heart of the city. Raquel also finished her Masters of Vocational Education at the same university in the pursuit to widen her scope of knowledge. It was during this period that she pursued her invention as it was the subject of her thesis.
For more than a decade of being an instructor in refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, she was a witness of how unfair the industry could be for women and to those who aren’t in power. In fact, she experienced that herself when her invention didn’t get the credit it badly deserved because nobody understood what it was and what it was for.
The same institution she was working for had a program which recognized innovations and inventions and she, being under the same roof, had hoped for recognition for her brainchild, but that glory was denied to her simply because the people she presented the invention to could not understand how it worked and didn’t realize the potential this device has. It disheartened her but it didn’t make her quit.
Like a wounded soldier in the middle of a war, she stood her ground and continued fighting for it. If there’s one thing Raquel was, it would be a persistent woodpecker – unstoppable and industrious, patient and smart. She didn’t give up without putting up a fair fight. And in the end, she succeeded. Now, TESDA has recognized the greatness this device entails. It has finally understood its nature and how impactful it could be most especially to women. In fact, her co-instructors and students who are women as well are using the device in their instructions and activities.
Muhammad Ali once said that with faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that one cannot achieve. On the same note, the greatest things about Raquel and her invention are that it is utilitarian and it was born out of selfless devotion towards the inventor’s work. She created it not because she wanted the glory for herself, or so she could gain anything from it, monetary or any other form. She just wanted to help – help make things easier for women, empower them and inspire them to do greater in their profession.
The next move for Raquel according to her was to commercialize her invention. Now that she has mastered the prototype, she is working on making the device smaller and lighter as the present model is a little heavy and enormous in size. She has been in touch with her alma mater, USeP, through the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division (KTTD), which expressed its willingness to help Raquel take things to the next level. Ultimately, Raquel aims to bring this invention to a bigger audience where more women can utilize it.
Raquel Dumayas isn’t a fearless army leader just like Joan of Arc. She isn’t a royal-blooded woman who ruled an entire empire like Queen Elizabeth I and neither is she as ridiculously smart as Katherine Johnson who was a human computer at NASA. She isn’t any of those women, but she is of her own character and spirit. She is of her own selfless affliction towards work. In spite of all these differences, these women share something in common – they are all women who conquered boundaries brought about by gender. They broke the wall of indifference, not to glorify themselves but to bring glory to the people around them. Raquel, in a nutshell, made the lives of other women in her industry easier and better. She glorified not just her job but also the women that she works with.
Raquel with her students
It is true that it could be difficult to be a woman in this man’s world. But women like Raquel make it easier for other women to create a world that views all genders as equal. (RMolina/RBadoy)
University of Southeastern Philippines – Research, Development & Extension Office – Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division