Monredongo discusses the various hardships and tragedies she endured from her childhood to adulthood.
Born in 1944, Negros Occidental native Leticia Monredongo recalls growing up in Puerto, Mindanao amidst hardship, as her father worked as a fisherman and her mother as a fishmonger, to support their children. However, she had to assume some of her parents’ responsibilities after her father passed away early in her childhood. She assisted her mother in her fish business, traveling with her to the various distant markets to purchase fish that they resold at their stall. Unsold fish would become their dinners. This trade allowed her mother to put her children through school, but Leticia quit her education after elementary school to save her mother the cost. By 1965, she married her neighbor, who was then working in the Philippine Packing Corporation, and had 6 children with him. They both worked and built a financially secure family while her niece cared for their children. However, tragedy struck when her husband went to meet a smuggling vessel, and was lost at sea in February 1989. She then closed her fish business and sold coffee and bread near her home. By the next decade, 3 of her children had married, but she lost a son in an accident.
Interviewee: Leticia, Monredondo, born 1944
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya
Writer: Dominique Jonietz O. Lucagbo
Date: August 16, 2019
My name is Leticia Monderondo, I was born on October 22, 1944 in Negros Occidental. I am 77 years old and currently residing here in Puerto. I am already a widow and have 6 children with my late husband. I was a Catholic then but converted to a Born Again Christian because I think it is better than my previous religion. I consider my life simple despite the tragic deaths of my loved ones and I did what I needed to do to continue living.
Although I was born in Negros Occidental, I was raised by my parents here in Mindanao. I was about 4 or 5 years old when we moved here in Puerto where my parents just get their earnings by fishing. My father was a fisherman while my mother was a fish vendor. Unfortunately, my father died not long after moving here in Puerto so I was obligated to help my mother on selling fish in the market.
It was not easy for a small child like me that time; our daily routine would be like waking up at 3 in the morning to travel to Cagayan de Oro City to buy the fishes. We would ride a jeepney carrying the basins. We would put the fishes that we bought in Cagayan de Oro City fish landing market at around 6am. There would be trucks with loads of fishes that would arrive from Zamboanga, Davao and other places. We usually buy about 5 basins of fishes and mostly are cabañera fishes that weights around 35 kilos. After that, we would travel back again to Puerto to sell the fishes in the market. By around 5pm, all the fishes would be usually be sold out. Sometimes there would be unsold fishes, and those would be brought home for our dinner. For years, that was where my mother earned her money to support me and my other siblings in our education, until she died.
I was able to finish primary school and didn’t think of continuing secondary education because it cost a lot more than primary education and we don’t have the capacity to acquire enough money from selling fish. Puerto that time was not as crowded as it is now and there was no mall or places to buy necessary things unlike now Gaisano Mall is just a walking distance away from our houses. Back then we still need to go to the city to buy what we need and the transportation fair alone is already costly for us. Now that everything is just second away from us, competitors are scattering from here and there. So we have to be wise and think of ways to stand out from the others and be able to sell our fish products.
By 1965, I met my late husband, Francisco Moredondo who is also from Negros Occidental. We met because at that time, he was working on a factory near Puerto named Philippine Packing Corporation also known as Del Monte Philippines now. He is also from my neighbourhood which made us know each other even more. He was the kindest husband anyone could ask for. We had 6 children and throughout our marriage I can just count the times we fought and its usually just due to financial problems. He’s responsible enough to find solutions to pay all our debts. While both of us are working, my niece is tasked to take care of my 6 children. We were doing fine back then, we could buy what we needed, pay for the bills and we were happy. But I learned that life isn’t all fun and happiness. One way or another, we will always experience hardships in our life that will challenge our faith.
Something happened to my husband while he was in the open sea. I can still clearly remember the exact date of that, it was the 16th of February 1989. They were preparing to sail because they will meet a ship of smuggled goods from abroad. The sky was dark and a storm was just waiting to happen, but it didn’t stop them from going and so off they went. I was getting worried and anxious the next morning, I waited and waited for him but no one came. They said that my husband and all his other companions were reported missing in the open ocean after the storm and until now there are no reported found bodies and so we were not able give a proper burial.
After his death, my life went downhill. I stopped selling fish and just sold coffee and bread near our place. I raised my children alone, and by 1990s, 3 of my children married already. But then I would never have thought that there will be another tragic accident that will happen after my husband’s death. My youngest son was hit by a car and died. It was devastating to lose a husband and a son. I can consider those as tragic and unforgettable. Still though, as what they say, the world won’t stop revolving just because of our personal problems. I had to continue my life through all of that and remembering it every single day.
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Interviewee: Leticia Monredongo
How were the experiences of women in the postcolonial Philippines shaped by their social and historical background?
Consider the degree of agency they had in shaping their daily life experiences.