Iam a Son of the Philippines….An Introduction to My Family’s HistorySeptember 30, 2009
To say that retelling the story of my family is one formidable task is truly an understatement. I discovered this after a lengthy initial interview with my parents. However; fear, dismay, and a debilitating feeling of helplessness somehow gave way to an acute interest and an urgent desire to rediscover my roots for it slowly dawned on me that ours is an interesting and vibrant story. There is no question about it: I am a part of this rich tapestry, however tiny a fragment I may be. The more I discovered, the more proud I became of my family heritage. I became less fearful and less apprehensive. I became more determined and more eager as I plodded on in a journey which promised excitement. The more I learned about my roots the hungrier I became to unravel things I was just beginning to rediscover and to appreciate.
Gradually I discerned a continuing story of little people: the marginalized, disadvantaged, and powerless many who oftentimes were deprived of the little that they possess, including their dignity by the scheming rich and powerful in society. I saw glaring similarities between the then and now of many Philippine communities. I saw how moneyed and educated functionaries and even some members of the Spanish clergy strip innocent and trusting women of their honor by making promises they have no intention of fulfilling. I also learned how powerful politicians virtually toyed with the lives of the powerless by decisions designed solely to perpetuate personal interests.
However, in the story of my family, I was overwhelmed by the resolve of a sprinkling of faces among the oppressed and disadvantaged many who vehemently refused to succumb to the dead-end by-ways of ignorance, bondage, and poverty. These women and men opted to uphold their human-ness and dreamed of upward change, not by embracing the ways of the violent. They not only dreamed of change. They strongly desired it; and then built up the courage to see their dreams through whatever the odds. They taught their children the timeless truth about the dignity of honest labor; work that is directed not towards the insatiable accumulation of material wealth but towards the enrichment of the human spirit. I found the singularity of the message that my ancestors incessantly proclaimed through the pages of our story: the value of good education in altering human lives. But more important was this: the universal message of Faith, Hope, and Love. These mega values permeated the story of my family.
I discovered tiny threads of our nation’s history unmistakably intertwined with my story as I slowly traveled on.
I consider myself very fortunate because I still have surviving older members of my family who are readily accessible with their stories. Certainly, most have stories to tell and they want others to listen to what they have to say. My mother contributed invaluable inputs especially with her family’s exodus to Mindanao and life among the pioneer settlers in the government resettlement areas in the Koronadal Valley, including vivid accounts of life with the indigenous Bilaans living in the foothills of Mount Matutum during the darkest days of the Japanese occupation in that part of Mindanao. She also unselfishly shared her experiences in post-war Koronadal, especially with regards the missionary work done by foreigners, notably the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and the Marist Brothers in that part of the country. Finally, she shared, albeit rather proudly, about how she and my father eked out a living doing menial tasks during the early years of their marriage; and how she managed to keep the incarceration of my father as a political detainee during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship a secret to her children.
My father, a retired professor, contributed rich first-hand information about the “Land for the Landless” program of Ramon Magsaysay specifically, the Economic Development Corporation (EDCOR) resettlement projects at Buldon, Parang, Cotabato and the Barrera, Cotabato resettlement community for surrendered Hukbalahaps.
My father also provided me with vivid first-hand accounts of life in the Koronadal Valley in the decade of the ‘50s, especially with regards the work of the Rural Health Units (RHU’s) assigned in the area and the severe rat and locust infestations that engulfed the region in the mid-1950’s. Of special interest are his accounts of the unsettled period immediately preceding the declaration of Martial Law by Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972 and his subsequent arrest and detention as a political detainee until 1975.
THE DE ALAS OF PAMPANGA AND THE MUEGOS OF LA UNION AND BOHOL
Two Clans: Threads of Divergence