Interview With Joan

Joan discusses her childhood, career and marriage.

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Born in 1935 in Cagayan de Oro City, Joan recalls growing up in a large family with 10 siblings. Her parents farmed various vegetables on a small plot of land for their livelihood. Joan’s education was disrupted by the second world war, and she stopped studying after her first year in high school. She then began helping her parents to sell their vegetable produce in the city market. A key form of entertainment for her was attending bayles; however, it also reminded her of her family’s financial difficulties as she only had 4 good pieces of clothing to wear to these gatherings.

    In 1955, she found a job with the Philippine Packing Corporation, based in Bugo in the Canning Production section, which was staffed by women. The Corporation was a popular employer, and many applicants who failed to secure a job had to wander the streets looking for alternative employment. She enjoyed the work, but missed her family in her hometown of Iponan. While working there, she met her husband and married him in 1958. Joan continued at her job after marriage in order to provide for her 8 children. Though there were unionized protests against the company, she was not present for them. Satisfied with her salary, she did not engage in smuggling, which was rampant amongst the employees. Over a 39 year career, she rotated through many departments before retiring at 60. She recalls that the period of Martial Law was the most challenging, as she was afraid of the increased military presence with soldiers ready to punish any who flouted the restrictions and curfew. Now a grandmother, Joan wishes for her grandchildren to live a comfortable life, and hopes to be there to watch them grow up.

Interviewee: Joan                            Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya

Born: August 29, 1935

Interviewer and writer: Kisho Tsuchiya       

Date: March 1, 2020

Location: Cagayan de Oro City

Language: Bisaya Keywords: Family, war, Worker, Development, Martial law

She talked a little about her experiences as a kid growing up, also talked about her work and how she met her husband. If there was one thing that I could get from the interview it was her genuine love for her family.                                                                                                    

I am Joan, I was born in August 29, 1935 at Iponan Cagayan de Oro City, I have 10 siblings in total. When I was a kid my parents had a small area where they could plant different types of vegetables, and that was our primary source of income. It was because of the war that I was only able to finish up until the 1st year of high school, I would hear stories of Japanese soldiers tossing children up in the air and impaling them with their swords. After the war I helped my parents in selling the vegetables that they planted, some of my siblings and I would walk from our house in Iponan to the city proper to try and sell our vegetables. That was how most of my adolescent years were spent on, of course there were times where I enjoyed it like when I joined in the “bayles” it was a sort of gathering in the community there I would dance the tango, cha-cha and even the boogie, but in the end despite all the happiness the “bayle” would always remind of our poor financial situation because I only had 4 good clothes that I could wear during these types of celebrations and not nearly as extravagant as the other dresses.

Soon after I applied for a job in the Philippine Packing Corporation or the PPC in 1955. It was a company based in Bugo Cagayan de Oro City. I heard about this company because there were a lot of people from Iponan who tried to get a job there. Luckily I was hired in the preparation department, specifically in the canning production area. It was mostly women who were assigned there and the men would be assigned in the labor area, I enjoyed my stay there because I was able to chit-chat with my coworkers. It was also in the PPC where I met my husband. He also worked there, his house was near to the place where I stayed, so we always saw each other very often, dated and soon after decided to marry each other in 1958; and went on to raise 8. I stayed in Bugo where my husband lived, it was nice but the only downside was me missing my family back home. Bugo had a high population because of the job opportunity that the PPC had put out but sadly not all of the applicants could have a job, so the people who were unsuccessful had no choice but to wander around looking for other jobs.  

Some women would prefer to stop working once they conceive a child and would want the husband to provide for the entire family. But not me. I continued to work to be able to provide for my 8 children. I believe that the salary that I receive from working in the PPC was enough to provide for my family, I didn’t resort to any illegal activities like the smuggling of goods that was rampant in the PPC at the time, and it wasn’t clear if the head officers of the PPC were aware of these illegal activities so I avoided it altogether.

It was tiring working in the PPC but I had to push through for my family, I heard there were protests against the company, but I was in my hometown at the time. It was especially hard when president Marcos declared Martial law. I was so scared because there were many soldiers and they were ready to punish anyone who broke the rules. I remember the streets being so quiet because of the implemented curfew. I worked in the PPC for 39 years bouncing around from the canning department, to the crushing department, then to the can cleaning department. Until I retired at the age of 60.

I remember when I was little I was so happy when my family would go to the sea and enjoy. Right now, my grandchildren are giving me that happiness. I don’t want to die yet because I want to see them grow up and I wouldn’t want them to have any bad experiences in their life like how my parents would wake me up at 3 and force me to go and look for fish just to have something to eat. I want my grandchildren to remember me as a grandmother who was kind and did not scold them. I want my grandchildren to remember all the things I taught them especially their good character. 

Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya

Interviewee: Joan

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Transcript Notes

  1. Bayle is a communal social gathering of the village for dance and music, where youth of both sexes mingle.

  1. Consider the importance of oral histories from individuals like Joan, who were not directly engaged in the popular protests during the Cold War in the Philippines.

  2. What does Joan’s testimony suggest about the nature of the Cold War and its impact on ordinary Filipino citizens?