Interview With Eutiquio Gumayao

Eutiquio Gumayao discusses his life and career as a native Lumad man, after his education was disrupted by the second world war.

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Born in 1934 as the third of 10 children to indigenous lumad farmer parents, Gumayao begins by discussing how his education was disrupted by the outbreak of the second world war. His family had to flee into the mountains to evade the Japanese military when he was only 7 years old. He shares some of the rumors about the Japanese soldiers, such as the belief that they practiced cannibalism with some of the civilians they killed, due to lack of supplies; or that the soldiers were deported back to Japan on a ship that was bombed out at sea by the Allies. However, he only saw Japanese corpses on a bridge, but never directly experienced Japanese wartime brutality and also notes that the soldiers who occupied their area for over 5 years even taught some residents the Japanese language.

    After the war, he helped his parents’ instead of returning to school. His relatives trained him in various martial arts, and he became an accomplished fighter capable of holding his own and defending his friends when necessary. In 1953, aged 19, he found employment in a logging company exporting timber from Butuan, and later moved to another firm in the same industry based in Davao. There he impressed his boss with his martial arts skills, and also describes a close shave he had, narrowly dodging a falling tree that could have killed him. Noting his fighting prowess, his boss wanted to spar with him, but decided against it after Gumayao immobilized him in a preliminary match.

    Two years later, he quit logging and returned to farming, during which time he married and had four children. He also describes his traditional wedding, for which a pig was sacrificed for the wedding feast, as opposed to chicken, which was more commonly used by mountainous communities. He continued farming alongside his wife until 1984, when he joined a corporate coffee plantation at age 50, as it provided a pension that he would not get as an individual farmer-entrepreneur. 

    His new boss similarly noted his physical fitness, and encouraged him to train for an international marathon. When he arrived in Manila for the marathon, the event was postponed because of the 1986 People’s Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos administration. This became an advantage, as it gave him an additional month to train, and he eventually finished 9th out of 15 competitors. He later participated in other marathons and was even honored as the best employee out of the company’s workforce of 4000, for which he was given many prizes.   

    Now retired, Gumayao receives his pension, but still continues working as a carpenter in his community despite his advanced age. He also trains youth in the various martial arts he mastered

Interviewee: Eutiquio Gumayao                        Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya

Born: February 10, 1934 

Interviewer and writer: Kisho Tsuchiya                        Transcriber: Dominique J. Lucagbo

Date: March 2, 2020

Location: Malaybalay Bukidnon

Language: Bisaya


 My name is Eutiquio Gumayao, I was born on February 10, 1934 in Kalasugay, Malaybalay. My parents were Marshall and Lucaria Gumayao who worked as farmers to provide for the family. My family is one of the natives here in Malaybalay and we sometimes talk in different native dialects such as Manobo and Madaya. We are 10 siblings in the family and I am their 3rd child. We used to live in a nipa hut made of bamboo. I was not able to finish primary education and was only able to reach 2nd grade because of the war that erupted between the Japanese and the American.

I was still 7 years old that time and we had to evacuate in the mountains to avoid encounters with the Japanese. The Japanese were brutal and killed the civilians they encountered. I heard a lot of stories but never really witnessed it. They eat people and cook them alive in a bamboo stick. They also throw children in the air and speared them alive. It was brutal and unacceptable but they were forced to resort to eating people because the locals did not give them any food. Only Americans had the food supplies. They were in our area for over 5 years and they also taught some of the people the Japanese language. They were ruling and governing, and local soldiers didn’t have enough power to defend until Americans came to our island and started the war. 

They dominated over the Japanese soldiers and killed a lot of them. I saw hundreds of corpses in the bridge, all were Japanese.  The remaining Japanese surrendered and were sent in a ship to Japan. But there were rumors around that nobody was left alive because they were bombed in the middle of the sea.  

After the war I wasn’t able to continue my studies so, I just helped my parents. Some of my siblings were able to continue but was not able to finish. I was able to learn Judo, Karate and boxing through my relatives. I can say I have the skills and was really good in fighting. I was known in our place to be brave and strong and whenever drunkards from our place tried to get into fight with me, I accepted it and fought back as long as I didn’t start the fight. If my friends got in trouble, I was also there to back them up. There was this time when we were playing basketball and a man suddenly came there looking for me. He was not wearing a shirt and his body was full of tattoos. I accepted his challenge but first called my younger brother to get a stone and hit my stomach with it to test if I was still in condition to fight. They saw how hard my brother hit the stone on my stomach and realized he was messing with the wrong person. 

 When I turned 19, I worked in Butuan in a logging company. We cut logs and load it on a carabao [water buffalo] where it will then be delivered to a pier for export through a ship. Not too long after, someone was looking for workers in Davao. It was also a logging company and so I took the opportunity and went there immediately with some of my co-workers. The very moment we arrived there, we were told to report to our boss’ office and so we went there. He was a buff man and was standing right in front the door waiting. My co-workers were too afraid to approach first and so I made the first move. He suddenly attacked me and I counter attacked using my Judo skills. He was impressed and told me he wanted to practice sparring with me someday. We laughed and after that and he sent us to the mountain where we started to cut trees. It was a dangerous job and so he warned us that we have to be aware of where the trees will fall. While I was sawing the tree, it started to wiggle telling me that it’s about to fall. We were frantic and didn’t know what direction it would fall. It then started to go right in my direction so I ran and dodged it, thankfully I was just able to dodge the trunk as it was falling. My co-workers were silent for a moment and saying that I might’ve already died. I slowly stood up and they were more than happy to see me still alive. I myself was so happy and thankful for the second life and so I decided to celebrate by cooking rice cake even though I didn’t know how, but it still turned out delicious.

The next day, my boss wanted to start sparring with me and he instructed me that we can bulldoze and flatten the area where we were standing so that we can spar there. But before that we sparred a little and he realized how strong I was. I was holding his hands so tight that I thought his bones were going to crack. He gave up and said there’s no need for us to spar as he realized I was too strong for him.

I stopped working after 2 years in logging and helped again in farming. I got married and had 4 children with my wife. We were married through a traditional wedding for natives where a Datu would give us the blessings instead of a priest. While people in the mountain killed a chicken when they got married, we killed a pig and cooked it as a wedding ritual. My wife helped me in farming too and we strived hard to provide for our family. 

When I turned 50 years old, I started working in a coffee plantation under San Miguel Company. I decided to work there as I was already getting old and if I worked and retired from the company, I would have a monthly pension, compared to farming where I would receive none. In my first year there, my boss saw my potential in running when he saw me exercising to condition my body for work. He told me to keep it up as he would sign me up for an international marathon in Manila. I started training myself and not soon after we were sent on a plane to Manila. But when we arrived there, Manila was in chaos because of the on-going People Power Revolution against Marcos’ administration. We had no choice but to go back to Malaybalay but it was an advantage for us players because we were still able to train more for a month. The next month we came back to Manila for the competition. At first, I was scared to get lost while running because I didn’t know the place but there were crowds along the way and I just followed them. I won 9th place out of 15 places and it was already an achievement. I was able to attend to a lot more of marathons. I still continued working in the plantation and was even nominated as the number one worker of the company out of 4000 workers. There was a parade given to us all the best workers from different company. I was so happy and received a lot of gift packs such as a sack of rice, sugar, coffee and lot more that my boss needed to give me a ride so I could bring the prizes home.

Currently, I am receiving my monthly pension from my company. I am now 86 years old but I still work as a carpenter around my neighborhood. I also help in our farm and I can still do the things I want. I can even run a marathon and teach younger kids judo, karate and boxing. I am working hard while I am still alive for my family because even if I’m old, their life still continues and mine should too. I am happy for what they’ve become and what they will become as they grow up and I am here to help them through it as long as I live.

Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya

Interviewee: Euitiquio Gumayao

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Transcript Notes

  1. Lumad is a Bişayan term meaning “native” or “indigenous”, referring to a group of 15 ethnic groups in Mindanao that are distinct from Moro or Christian Mindanaoans.

  2. This interviewee’s wife, Rosa Gumayao, also participated in this oral history project (interview available).

  1. Consider the importance of oral histories from indigenous peoples like Gumayao.

  2. How does Gumayao’s reflections reveal the diverse impacts of the Cold War on people in the Philippines?