Perseveranda Torres Torralba discusses her experiences growing up, how it helped her to become the person she is today, and how she wants to teach this experience to future generations.
Born in 1945 in Balingasang, Misamis Oriental, Perseveranda recalls growing up in a very strict family where discipline was enforced. Her routine was tightly regulated by her homemaker mother, who expected her children to read regularly and help with chores. This strict discipline was inherited from Perseveranda’s grandmother, who only spoke Spanish. She had little opportunities to play with other children, other than her cousins who visited. At the age of 7 she lost her father, who had worked as a driver. Four years later, the family moved to Cagayan de Oro City, as the harsh weather in Balingasang was damaging their farm.
It was only after moving to the city that she encountered the dash economy, as agricultural produce had only been bartered in her hometown. Rosa married her colleague at age 19, while she worked at the parish, and had four children. When her husband died at 43, she had to work as a launderer to raise her family as a single mother, accepting both cash payments and gifts-in-kind for her services. Her eldest son worked as a jeepney conductor while studying to support the family, while her eldest daughter quit her education to work as a waitress. Perseveranda is heartened by her children’s commitment to helping her, which is a value she sees fading in contemporary youth, and hopes to pass down her values from her traditional upbringing to future generations.
Interviewee: Perseveranda Torres Torralba Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya
Born: February 24, 1945
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya Transcriber: Dominique J. Lucagbo
My name is Perseveranda Torres Torralba. I was born on February 24, 1945 in Mambayaan, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. My parents were also from Balingasag. My father worked as a driver while my mother was a housewife. My father died when I was just 7 years old due to heart enlargement and my mother died in 1999 caused by asthma. Before my parents died, we lived in a big house in Balingasag together with my 4 siblings.
We were raised with discipline ruling in our house. My mother always scolds us if we did something she didn’t like. My father was the calm but we still had a huge amount of respect for him and were still scared of him. My childhood was sad because I was not able to go out and play with the other kids. My mother wouldn’t even allow us to go to our relatives’ house. My cousins were allowed to enter our house to play with me and that was it. If we don’t help with house chores then we read, if we don’t read, we sleep. We should be awake by 6am for the rosary if we’re still not up by that time, my mother would drop candle wax to our bodies to wake us up. And if we fell asleep while praying the rosary we would be punished. We must also be at home at 6pm or else we’ll be punished.
My mother learned this kind of discipline from her parents. My grandmother died at the age of 107. She was a health-conscious person and always used the traditional healthcare such as herbs and etc. She believes in a lot of things that are usually neglected by today’s generation. She died peacefully in her deathbed, and the one thing I can’t forget about her was she only speaks in Spanish while my mother only speaks in English. I had to speak in English too and needed study and learn them from school.
By 1956, I was 12 years old and we moved to Cagayan de Oro City. Balingasag was not a good place for us especially for our livelihood. Every December Balingasag would be flooded from heavy rain and our rice fields and coconut plantation tend to get destroyed from the storm. It was my first time to go in the City and I didn’t like it at first. We always had to buy things that we only get for free in Balingasag such as fruits and vegetables. I thought it was a waste of money, but didn’t have a choice but to deal with this kind of lifestyle.
When I turned 19 years old, I married my husband. I met him in the parish I’ve been working. He was a driver of the parish priest while I was a volunteer worker where sometimes I clean the church and helped around. We had 4 children but he died when he was still 43 years old. It was really hard because I had to raise 4 children by myself. But I was thankful my children were well-disciplined and helped me. My eldest was still in his 1st year in secondary education and was already a working student. He works at 7am to 12 noon as a jeepney conductor and goes to school at 1pm to 5pm. After that, he works again from 5pm to 12pn. He did this every day and only charged a peso per hour as his salary. But it was already a big help to our family. My 2nd eldest daughter stopped going to school and helped me by working as a waitress and she worked there for 4 years. I was really thankful to have kids who were already thoughtful even in their young age.
I worked as a launderer and accept any kind of payment they give. Sometimes I receive food, money or even clothes. I accept what I was given to raise my family. It was really hard for me to cope after my husband died and it was also the saddest part of my life. I never even thought of marrying again and instead dedicated my life to all my children.
I am thankful though that our life is comfortable enough now. They grew up just how I wanted them to be. And I want to teach my grandchildren the discipline I learned from my parents and grandparents. I want them to be respectful of their elders and not be like how this generation of kids turned into. Kids nowadays want only what they want and don’t listen to the elders anymore. Back then, children can’t talk back to their parents. My mother always said that “one word is enough for a wise man” and we don’t need to be told twice and follow what they say. They can still be whoever they want but I want them to carry the values and wisdoms I learned from my experiences.
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Interviewee: Perseveranda Torres Torralba
How were the experiences of women in the colonial and postcolonial Philippines shaped by their social and historical backgrounds?
Consider the degree of agency they had in shaping their daily life experiences.
Given Perseveranda’s testimony, consider what might account for why some citizens remained distanced from the political conflicts of the postwar Philippines while others did not.