Antonio Timugan Jr. discusses growing up in poverty, his career, and how he found a way to have a family of his own and provide for them despite his humble beginnings.
Born the fifth of eight children in 1950, Antonio Timugan Jr begins by discussing how his parents moved from Valencia to Nasipit in the Philippines for work. His father was the sole breadwinner, working as a driver at the Nasipit Lumber Company. His father worked hard to send his children to private school. Antonio briefly recalls his schooling years, of playing with his classmates and enjoying softball. However, his father could not adequately provide for all his children, and the majority of his earnings were used to fund the oldest daughter’s education in Cebu, on a scholarship program under the Company. The family made do with simple meals of rice, salt, or dried fish, rarely eating meat.
After high school, Antonio found work as a lumber checker, performing quality control at his father’s company, through his connections to the mayor, who was his uncle. The Lumber Company was renting the mayor’s land and obliged to give his relatives jobs. This came with many benefits, such as free hospitalization at the affiliated hospital. Employees were also given wood to build their homes.
However, the Nasipit Lumber Company also had a union which was able to successfully campaign for higher wages, both before and after Martial Law. It was also part of the May First Labor Movement which opposed the Marcos regime. It was rumored that the New People’s Army (NPA) demanded funds from the company, but that the management did not accede. Despite the tensions of the era, Antonio got married and started his family, juggling the responsibilities of childcare and work with his wife. The Lumber Company closed many years later, as illegal logging and sabotage by NPA agents made the business unsustainable, and Antonio retired aged 60. Now receiving pension, Antonio’s only regret is his inability to attend university and study electrical engineering earlier in life.
Interviewee: Antonio Timugan Jr. Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya
Born: May 30, 1950
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya Transcriber：Dominique J. Lucagbo
Date: March 3, 2020
Location: Valencia, Bukidnon
I am Antonio Timugan Jr. , born in May 30, 1950 at Nasipit Agusan Del Norte, both of my parents were from Valencia Bohol but moved to Nasipit where they had 8 children, me being the 5th oldest. They moved to Nasipit because of the opportunity to work for the Nasipit Lumber Company; my father worked as a driver while my mother stayed at home and took care of us. All that I could remember from my childhood was I played a lot with my friends even up until my Highschool years where I studied in St. Mary’s Academy, my father sent me to a private school because he wanted us to have a better education and private schools were the way to go, it was there where I also played softball and it was my favorite sport. Sadly it wasn’t all fun and games. We also experienced hardships because my father’s salary wasn’t enough to cater to the needs of all my siblings. So we decided to give most of my father’s earnings to my eldest sister so that she could finish her studies in Cebu. She had to study there instead of in Mindanao because she was in a scholarship program of the company that my father worked in. But it could only be possible if she studied in Cebu, and so she did. As a result, most of the times we would eat rice paired with dried fish or even salt, rarely would we be able to eat meat.
After graduating Highschool I didn’t proceed to the tertiary level anymore. I was assigned to a job in the Nasipit Lumber Company, the same company that my father worked for. My uncle was the mayor at the time, and had an area of land. The Company rented out his land, and part of the contract was for his relatives to receive a job in the company. I started working in the company at around 1973.
It was around this time that the former President Marcos had declared Martial law and the Nasipit Lumber Company had a workers union called the ULG which was against the government at the time. In fact, the ULG was also a part of the KMU, which was a movement against the Marcos regime based in Manila. The people were scared. The ULG also protested against the company to raise our wages, improve our benefits as workers of the company, and the like, and in the end the Nasipit Lumber Company would give us what we wanted because we would go on a strike. We did this even before martial law and well after.
My job in the company was a lumber checker. I would check if the lumber was up to standard and would be responsible if any exported wood would have a problem. The company exported to different parts of the world Australia, USA, Japan, Taiwan, and many more, in fact the company was also featured in the Reader’s Digest. We received so many benefits from the company like free hospitalization in the company hospital, the medication was already taken care of and the company would even give us enough wood to build our own house.
Amidst all that I got married at the age of 27 and have a beautiful child. We both had work so we took turns in taking care of our child, I was very happy living out my life. I retired at the age of 60 and soon after the Company had closed down because of the illegal loggers that took down many trees that were supposed to be in the company and also because of the workers’ fear of the rebel group called the NPA that were lurking in the mountains and set fire to the trucks that the workers drove. It is said that the rebels demanded money (revolutionary tax) from the company but the company didn’t give them any.
Now being retired I enjoy my life, relaxing and receiving my pension. Looking back at my life I would say that the thing that scared me the most was when my wife got in a stroke, I took care of her as best that I could and thankfully she recovered, the happiest moment was when I married her. And if there was one thing that I could change in my life it would be to continue studying and pursue a degree in electrical engineering.
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Interviewee: Antonio Timugan
The May First Movement, also known as Kilusang Mayo Uno, was a militant labor union in the Philippines, which was formed in 1980.
What does Antonio’s reflections suggest about the nature of the Cold War in the Philippines?
In light of Antonio’s reflections, is the Philippines’ Cold War better characterized as a single conflict or multiple?
How does Antonio’s testimony illustrate the agency he and Filipino citizens like him had in navigating the Cold War era?