Vanishing Trades: Lola Consolacion the Typist

I first met Lola Consolacion a year ago, during my frantic search for someone who can type an assigned legal form for one of my classes. In this day and age of computers, you would not think that people were still pounding away at their typewriters. But our teacher was adamant, so it was a choice between buying a typewriter (Cang's surprisingly sells brand new units for the price of a new laptop), or finding someone who can type my assignment for me. I was desperate, so desperate in fact that I posted my search on Facebook, hoping someone could point me in the right direction. I knew that there was a typist somewhere in Dumaguete, but the last time I saw her was back in high school, which was more than 10 years ago. Back then, she kept shop in a the small space between two store buildings, Nijosa and Handumanan, but I could vaguely recall that I have not seen her recently. I assumed that she had retired.

People who were kind enough to comment on my post confirmed that she was still around and typing as before, but that she had moved across the street. I visited her the next day and handed her my work. Lola Consolacion is a small woman. She has really intense eyes and thick, penciled eyebrows that give her this stern, quizzical look. However, once you sit down on the plastic Orocan stool on the other side of the table, you will find that she is very accommodating.  She is renting the small space right outside a hair salon. Two small tables and a couple of plastic chairs serve as her office.

Lola Consolacion has an intense stare that serves to keep your eyes on her and you tell her what you want. She didn't ask questions, just nodded and told me when I could get the paper. I had time to kill so I sat for a bit of chitchat. I also told her that I would love to take pictures of her, once I was done with the semester, when there was more time to breathe. I didn't know of anyone else who still made a living typing on a typewriter, and she would be an interesting subject. She laughed, touched her hair demurely, and said that she might feel a little bit embarrassed in front of the camera, but yes, if I really wanted to. And of course, I did. I just did not know when. And true enough, I didn't return to her 'office' even when the summer break came and went. I finally managed to drop by her spot a few days ago, and this time I set a date. She readily agreed, although she told me that she would have preferred to have a perm first. I told her that her hair looked great as it was, so she relented and said she'll just have to make do with a little bit of make-up.

Taking pictures of her was a little bit easy. She was surprisingly very comfortable, and since she didn't have anything to type for today (a Sunday) she would just type using scratch paper, just so I could take photos of her typing. During the hour I spent with her I learned that she graduated from Silliman, and that her brother was the husband of one of my high school teachers. I also learned why she moved from her old space to where she was now. The narrow space between Nijosa and Handumanan would flood everytime it rained, and she told me how she would type with her feet ankle-deep in rainwater. So she finally moved. It was a good thing that the hair salon agreed to rent the space out to her. It was not far from where she used to sit, so customers won't have trouble finding her.



I asked her if she never got tired of typing for a living. She said no, since she get's excited everytime she sees something that is typewritten. She also never wears glasses. It's a surprise since she usually types well into the night, when she has to lean over the typewriter just to see what she's typing. She is farsighted, however, although this has not forced her to start wearing corrective glasses. 

She tells me that perhaps she is the only person who still types for a living in Dumaguete. She also works as a treasurer in her barangay, which gives her something else to do when she's not typing, but for the most part people know her as the lady typist you see everyday in that corner of the street. Will she finally retire one day, send her typewriters off to typewriter heaven? It surprises her even, that there are a lot of people who still want things typewritten, government forms mostly. So perhaps. she says, when she gets to tired to type, she'll pack her tables and take her typewriters home with her. For now, she has no plans to stop.


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