Interview With Anisito Edpalina

Anisito Edpalina discusses his early life growing up without a father, and his struggle to support himself and his family in his adulthood, working multiple jobs while moving across the Philippines, fleeing various conflicts since the 1950s.

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Born in 1949 the son of a coconut plantation worker, Edpalina begins by discussing his early life and the loss of his father to cancer at age 9. His homemaker mother then remarried and moved her family to Manticao. He was not able to complete high school. By the age of 15, he was helping his stepfather with farming. However, his mother separated from her partner due to abuse. 

    Edpalina then continued farming with his brother in Quezon. His brother also trained him in tailoring, and after a year of practice, he was adept enough to begin earning with his skills. He traveled to various regions of the Philippines to find tailoring work from the age of 18. In 1978, he was able to open his own shop in Manticao, and got married. 

    By 1980, Manticao was too dangerous to live in due to clashes between the New People’s Army and the government armed forces. He moved his family to Bukidnon and returned to farming, this time as a laborer in a corporate coffee plantation. This job paid well, as his salary of 40 pesos daily was able to provide well for his family. Three years later, he moved to Panagtucan and resumed farming corn and vegetables as a contract farmer on land he did not own. The venture ended when he had disagreements with the land owner, and he returned to his previous job in the coffee plantation. This allowed him to afford his own home, but he sold it and moved again after a year to Kabanglasan, where he worked making plywood and again restarted farming and animal husbandry on government land, until it was repossessed.

    Edpalina moved yet again, first back to Manticao, where he even ran for the Barangay Election and won. This also made him new political opponents. His political career was disrupted when his mother passed away, and his brother unknowingly acquired materials for her coffin from an abandoned property belonging to Edpalina’s rival. The rival politician demanded that Edpalina restore the damages to the house, which he agreed to but later decided against and fled to Ginoog City where he again returned to farming. He moved again to evade conflict. By this time, his children had grown up and found jobs, so he moved to settle in Malaybalay, acquiring a piece of land to build a home on, where he still lives. It is his hope that peace persists and that he and his family will be able to continue enjoying their freedom.

Interviewee: Anisito Edpalina                        interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya

Born: March 19, 1949

Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya        Transcriber: Domonique J. Lucagbo

Date: March 05, 2020

Location: Malaybalay, Bukidnon

Language: Bisaya

Keywords: New People’s Army, Conflict, social tension, tailor, farmer, migration

Anisito Edpalina is a 70 years old tailor-man. His father died at a young age and lived with his mother and stepfather. His life has been characterized by frequent movement from one place to another (Kinoguitan, Manticao, Valencia, Ginoog, Panangutan, Malaybalay, and Mahayyahay) with his wife and family, avoiding conflicts that seemed to follow him everywhere he was. As he moved to one place to another, he was caught up in social problems of each society. Due to cope up with his problems, he cooperated with his family members and changed his jobs several times. 


My name is Anisito Edpalina, 70 years old and was born on March 19, 1949 in Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental. My father worked in a coconut plantation and my mother was a housewife. I was not able to graduate secondary education, and only reached 2nd year high school. School back then was 3km away from our home, my siblings and I would walk on foot to go to school. By 1958, my father died because of cancer. Back then medicine was hard to find especially for the less fortunate people. He was bedridden in our house for almost a year. My mother then met someone new and went with him in Manticao bringing me with her. He was a farmer in Bagong Taas in Valencia, I was 15 years old at the time and also helped him in farming. Not too long after, my mother and stepfather separated because of his ill treatment towards us. After that I continued farming with my older brother in Quezon, Bukidnon City.

My older brother was a tailor-man and he decided to teach me how to sew so that I can also make a living for my own. After 1 year, I was already good with tailoring and at the age of 18, I started finding a job in different places. In 1976, I went to Cagayan de Oro City and worked there for 3-4 months and moved again to Gingoog City, Butuan City, and came back again to Manticao. I travelled a lot to earn and I always bring with me a screw driver, scissor, and ruler. 

By 1978, I opened my own tailoring shop in Manticao and got married. 2 years later Manticao was too chaotic to live in because of an ongoing conflict between NPAs and the Army. We moved back again to Malaybalay, Bukidnon because it was more peaceful there and the San Miguel Company was hiring people for their coffee plantation. I worked there as a farmer and whenever it’s time to harvest, my wife would also apply there as a harvester. We worked there from 4am to 2pm with a 40 pesos salary a day. It was enough because a kilo of rice back then would only cost us 1 peso. 

We spent 3 years in Bukidnon and got tired of farming and by 1984, we moved to Panangtucan with my wife and four children. My brother suggested us to farm corn and vegetables, our income was better than in Malaybalay. But we were not farming our own land and I had a disagreement with the land owner. Avoiding more issues, we decided to go back to Malabalay, Bukidnon and worked again in the coffee plantation. After a year, we were able to buy a house of our own but sold it after a year and moved to Kabanglasan.

By 1987 in Kabanglasan, I worked there as a plywood maker. Near our workplace there was a government land property that was free for anyone who want to cultivate it. I stated to farm corn and crops there. Raised carabaos, goat, and chickens and even took care of a dog. But problem came again and someone claimed the property and we were forced to move out once more.

In 1991, we moved to Brgy. Mahayahay in Manticao. It was far from the town and was literally a mountain. I also farmed there and even run as Kagawad (barangay councilor) during the Barangay election. I won the election and gained rivals from the opposition. My mother was staying with us at the time but sadly died at the age of 86. I had to go to Gingoog City to fetch my sibling for my mother’s funeral. Meanwhile, my brother started to make the coffin for my mother, he got the materials from an abandoned house in a private property to save money, little did he know that the owner of that property was one of my political rival. He reported us to the barangay officials. He wanted me to replace and renovate the damaged house. I agreed but later on I didn’t want to do it so I ran away from Manticao.   

We went back to Gingoog City where we had coconut and durian trees. But to cut the story short, conflict and problems found its way again and 3 years after moved back to Mahayahay but got tired of the living there and went back to Malaybalay. My children grew up moving from place to place and they are used to it. They grew up in Malaybalay and started finding jobs like being driver or a housekeeper. We got tired paying rent for our house so, I went to Midland, Malaybalay and found out that there was a company giving out land properties, I took a leap of faith and asked for a piece of land, and later on fortunately it was granted. We started building a small house through our joint savings. And that house is the current house we are staying in right now. There was a point in my life that I was going back and forth from my home to the hospital because of my illness. I am grateful that I raised my children to be helpful and caring and we are contented here now because no one is telling us what to do because we own the place. I am just hoping the peace will continue to me and my family. 

Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya

Interviewee: Anisito Edpalina

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Transcript Notes

  1. Barangay is the smallest administrative unit of local governance in the Philippines. It is also the native Spanish/Tagalog term for village.

  2. Carabao is the native term for water buffalo.

  1. What does Edpalina’s pattern of fleeing from conflict suggest about Filipino civilians’ involvement in the Philippines’ Cold War?

  2. How did the experience of voluntary and involuntary movement across the Philippines shape Edpalina’s Cold War experience?

  3. Consider the merits of oral histories of individuals like Edpalina who did not directly participate in the Philippines’ Cold War conflicts.