Interview With Unie

In the interview, Unie describes her peaceful childhood despite the conflicts in Mindanao, and how her life circumstances changed in her adulthood as she married and moved to other places.

Interviewee: Unie                    Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya

Born: January 28, 1950

Interviewer and writer: Kisho Tsuchiya       

Date: March 6, 2020

Location: Malaybalay Bukidnon

Language: Bisaya


I am Unie, born in January 28, 1950 at Banga South Cotabato, both of my parents are from Iloilo, they met in Cotabato looking for work, my mother gave birth to 7 children with me being the oldest and provided for us by farming rice. We lived a simple life in a simple house, we had no TV or radio and our house was only made of wood like most of the houses in my neighborhood, we acquired the materials for our houses in the mountains because we lived in a rice field. We were a diverse community with different backgrounds, some were Muslims, Christian, Baptists like ourselves, and some were from tribes, but despite that we had no issues amongst each other. As a child I didn’t get to play much with my friends because we lived in a rice field and had no space to play in, usually we could only play in the school and that was a big part of the reason why I enjoyed school very much.

During my teens I was given a chance to lead my peers as an official leader of the youth organization in my Barangay in South Cotabato, our aim was to earn money as a group and what we earned was used to fund the organizations projects, I had that role for 2 years. Unfortunately I wasn’t as successful in my studies, I stopped studying after I finished 2nd year of my Highschool, because the physical labor of just going to school was too much for me. We had no form of transportation back then and so I had to walk 7km going to school and another 7km going back, I was doing this for almost everyday and just decided to stop, instead I helped my parents in the rice field, plowing the land, planting the seed, and the like.

Our family then moved to Pangantucan Bukidnon to find better a better life. it was in Pangantucan Bukidnon where I met my husband. We got married in 1970 and as funny as it sounds I didn’t really feel anything when we got married because it didn’t feel real, the fact that I was getting married didn’t really sink in yet, I only realized that I was living a married life when I gave birth to my 1st child. Both of us were also farmers. It was also around this time that the president declared martial law fortunately though our barangay wasn’t affected by the government and the rebels, in fact it was rather peaceful. 

At around 1990 my husband and I together with my children transferred to Malaybalay Bukidnon because we thought Malaybalay had better opportunities for us in farming, and it did because unlike in Pangantucan where there was a 3-4 months or rotation for farming in Malaybalay you could farm all year long. When we first came to Malaybalay everything was great from financial to the environment, because even if you had no money before you could barter for food unlike today money is essential for survival, and before the climate was cold but now it’s very hot because of the people transferring to Malaybalay with most of them have little to no care for the environment.

If I had the chance to choose between living now and living before, I would definitely choose living before, but all I can do now is to look forward and live my life. Looking back in my life I have no regrets because I believe that God has everything planned and everything that happened in my life is according to his will from the happy moments like being able to see my children living a good life and even my grandchildren to the sad moments like seeing my health and the health of my husband deteriorating, I’ll just have to trust in his plans.

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