Rosa Gumayao discusses her childhood and early exit from school, her difficult arranged marriage, religious conversion, and her career.
Born into an indigenous lumad farming family in Bukidnon in 1957, Rosa begins by recalling her joyful childhood playing with other children and helping her parents on the farm. She had to end her education after primary school due to her family’s financial struggles, and began working as a housemaid for a wealthy Chinese family in Cagayan de Oro City. There she also befriended other housemates from Bohol and enjoyed her days off with them. Five months later, her mother brought her back to her hometown to be forced into an arranged marriage, after which she converted from Catholicism to her husband’s faith, Fundamental Baptism. The marriage was fraught with conflict, but she still had four children. She severed ties with her parents after a fight, and was left to care for her first child as a teenage mother without family support. Rosa then fled her marriage, moving to Valencia, where she found work as a sales agent. However, she also picked up vices while there, and decided to return to her husband. She only forgave her mother in her final days. Rosa now feels more spiritually connected and is still working to improve her marriage.
Interviewee: Rosa Gumayao Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya
Born: July 6, 1957
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya Transcriber: Dominique J. Lucagbo
Date: March 4, 2020
Location: Malaybalay, Bukidnon
I am Rosa Gumayao, born July 6, 1957 in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. My parents are natives here in Bukidnon and one of the earliest settlers. They work as farmers and cultivate corn and rice fields. Most of our neighbors were also natives and also worked as farmers. I learned English, Filipino and Bisaya in our school but I talk in the native language in our household. My childhood was filled with memories of me helping in the farms such as feeding ducks, planting seedlings, fertilizing and harvesting. I play sometimes with other children but most of the time I help my parents in the farm.
I was not able to continue secondary education and only graduated the primary level. My parents didn’t want to support me and I decided to go to Cagayan de Oro City to work as a housemaid. I also had workmates who were from Bohol and had fun with them during day offs. We go to theatres on our free days and watch movies. The family we were working for was a wealthy family in Nazareth. They were Chinese businessmen and are now the owners of the NVM Company in Valencia, Bukidnon. They had a child that I sometimes babysat and I was forced to learn the Chinese language because I had to teach the child and report the progress to her parents. I spent 5 months working there and then my mother suddenly came and fetched me to go home in Malaybalay. When I came home, I was forced to marry a man 23 years older than me. It was a fixed marriage.
His name is Eutiquio Gumayao and was already courting me even before I went to Cagayan de Oro City. I was not happy with our marriage but I had no choice. Before our marriage he also had a relationship with my auntie but they didn’t last long. I don’t know what my parents saw in him, maybe it’s because he was a man of skills. He knows a lot of things like boxing, karate judo. We had a civil marriage and our early marriage life was a disaster. I suffered a lot especially when he tries to go near me. I didn’t want him near me but I really didn’t have a choice. I fought a lot with my parents especially my mother. I was only able to forgive her when she was near death. Despite my hatred, we were still able to have 4 children. I was 19 years old when we had our first child. It was tough being a teenage mother; I was ignorant to many things and had to learn them quickly. It didn’t help that I had a fight with my parents which left me with no one to ask advice. Throughout my pregnancy, I tried really hard to return his love but it’s like every time we fought, my love for him shrinks back and disappears.
I decided to escape and went to Valencia, Bukidnon to work. Valencia was already productive that time hence I have a lot of opportunities as a sales agent. At first though, I was shy and lacked confidence to approach customers. If only I was able to finish my education then people would not belittle me. In Valencia, I thought found myself again and was able to gain self-esteem. I felt free, single and had a lot of fun with my co-workers. We went to different places and drink liquors, I also learned to smoke. It was a negative change for me so I went back to my husband.
My husband’s relatives were so happy that I came back. They were praying for me and my husband to get along. When we were married, I converted from a Catholic to a Fundamental Baptist. It is his family’s religion. I felt at ease with them and was able to connect myself with God. Until now, I am thankful for them because of how they changed me. I became active in the church and attend prayer meetings every Sunday. I am happy now and still trying to make things right with my husband. My only advice to whoever can read my story is to marry a man because you love him. Don’t do the same mistake I did, and always ask God for guidance.
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Interviewee: Rosa Gumayao
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.
This interviewee’s husband, Eutiquito Gumayao, also participated in this oral history project (interview available).
How were the experiences of women in the postcolonial Philippines shaped by their cultural and religious communities?
Consider the degree of agency they had in shaping their daily life experiences.