Interview With Marilyn Namuag

Marilyn Namuag discusses the many challenges she overcame in her life, beginning with her parents’ divorce, financial struggles, her own marriage, and having to navigate the era of conflict between the government and the New People’s Army in the 1970s-80s Philippines.

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Born to a Mexican soldier father and Filipino mother after the second world war in Cagayan de Oro in1947, Marilyn Namuag begins by discussing how her parents had to separate due to her maternal grandparents’ objection to their daughter marrying a foreigner. Her mother then remarried and moved to Bukidnon, where she had 6 more children. Yet, Namuag’s stepfather accepted her.

    She quit her education in her third year of high school as her parents could not afford it any longer, and began working on the farm with her stepfather. However, she still fondly recalls her teenage years going to bayle social gatherings in her community. In 1964, she had a brief reunion with her biological father who located her and moved her to Davao, but felt out of place and returned to Bukidnon. She forgave him for his absence, despite his regret that he was unable to see her through her education.

    Namuag got married the same year, and would have six children of her own. She describes President Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law amidst clashes between the military and the New People’s Army in 1972 as a time of chaos, during which she was undergoing her third pregnancy. Her family had to evacuate to the mountains for 3 years, but she felt relatively safe due to their proximity to the military barracks. She also recalls witnessing the assassination of the local chief in 1983. Namuag explains that the NPA recruited natives facing financial struggles as hitmen, but did not pay the recruits in the end. Ultimately, she accepts the ups and downs of life, such as the deaths of her mother and son, remaining driven to push through difficult times.

Interviewee: Marilyn Namuag                            Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya

Born: January 13, 1947

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

Date: March 6, 2020

Location: Malabalay, Bukidnon

Language: Bisaya


My name is Marilyn Namuag. I was born on January 13, 1947 in Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City. My parents met in Bugo during the World War II. My father was a Mexican medical soldier but worked in service under the Philippine government. They had me but they separated because my mother’s parents didn’t like the idea of her marrying a foreigner. My father was an alien for them and looked unfamiliar and unusual. My mother then remarried a farmer and moved with me in Linabo Malaybalay Bukidnon. 

They had 6 children and my stepfather accepted me as his own eldest daughter. I was only able to reach 3rd year in secondary education in San Isidro. I worked in the farm in my weekends and also enjoyed my childhood playing with some other kids. But then I decided to stop going to school when my parents couldn’t provide for my tuition because I was studying in a private school. I was still able to enjoy my teenage years by being invited with my parents to bayles. Bayle is basically a formal gathering where parents are invited to come with their daughters to dance to cha-cha, tangos and boogies. We then sat in a chair and boys will ask us for a dance, that’s how we had fun back then.

By 1964, I got married with my husband who’s also from Bukidnon. I didn’t know him but he saw me from around our neighborhood and decided to court me. After a year we married in a church wedding. We started anew with our life in our own and had 6 children. My mother sometimes helps me especially when I’m in a financial crisis. My husband was working as a carpenter in Malaybalay and it was quite enough to provide for our family.

1964 was also the same year when my father fetched me and brought me to Davao. Turns out, he was looking for me for a long time now and wanted make amends with me. He introduced himself and was already talking in Filipino language. He was living in Davao long enough to adapt to the surroundings. He was sorry because he came too late, if only he was able to find me earlier, he could’ve willingly let me continued studying. I already forgave him because it was not of his fault. We went to different places and catch up a little bit of our lives but I went back to Malaybalay after a month because I was home sick and felt strange in Davao.

By 1972, Martial Law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos which made us evacuate to the mountains. I was pregnant with my 3rd child that time and it was chaos. There were a lot of conflicts between NPA and civilians. We were living near the soldier barracks and felt safe there. We were already there for 3 years when the conflict has ended. The peak year for the NPAs was in 1983, there were a lot of killings where I even witnessed the Datu of Malaybalay shot dead while in an assembly meeting. We were afraid and some of them were natives (lumad) who were recruited and were promised with rewards like money. Their usual targets are those with financial issues because it’s easy for to lure them with money but they never received any money from the recruiters. 

Looking back, life had its ups and downs. It was tough but I was able to face it all little by little. The saddest part would be when my mom and son died. My son died in an accident and it was really hard for me to accept but I was still able to pass through it. Currently, I am living contented with my life and understands that my journey was for me to be strong and willed to face every struggle in life.

Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya

Interviewee: Marilyn Namuag

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Transcript Notes

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

  1. Consider the impact of forced migration and relocation in shaping the lived experiences of the Cold War in the Philippines for civilians like Namuag