In the interview, Unie describes her peaceful childhood despite the conflicts in Mindanao, and how her life circumstances changed in her adulthood as she married and moved to other places.
Born the oldest of 7 children in 1950 to farmer parents, Unie describes her uncharacteristically peaceful childhood in South Cotabato, Mindanao. Though she lived in a diverse community that included Christians and Muslims from various denominations, she did not experience any communal clashes. She pursued her education until the second year of high school, and even rose to become a youth leader in her community, raising funds for community projects. However, she ended her education before graduating as it was too physically taxing to journey 7 kilometers to and from school. She then began working with her parents in the field.
Her family then moved to Pangantucan in search of better opportunities, where she met her husband and married in 1970. She worked in agriculture alongside her husband, noting that her village was again not really affected by the clashes between the government soldiers and rebel forces. By 1990 they moved to Bukidnon, where she found that the environment was very supportive. They were financially secure, enjoyed a comfortable climate, and could barter items even when money was not available. Unie reflects that the growing importance of money for survival was a key difference from her past experiences. She also embraces both joyful and difficult moments in life by finding strength in her faith and belief in a divine plan.
Interviewee: Unie Interpreter: Marjorie Tsuchiya
Born: January 28, 1950
Interviewer and writer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Date: March 6, 2020
Location: Malaybalay Bukidnon
I am Unie, born in January 28, 1950 at Banga South Cotabato, both of my parents are from Iloilo, they met in Cotabato looking for work, my mother gave birth to 7 children with me being the oldest and provided for us by farming rice. We lived a simple life in a simple house, we had no TV or radio and our house was only made of wood like most of the houses in my neighborhood, we acquired the materials for our houses in the mountains because we lived in a rice field. We were a diverse community with different backgrounds, some were Muslims, Christian, Baptists like ourselves, and some were from tribes, but despite that we had no issues amongst each other. As a child I didn’t get to play much with my friends because we lived in a rice field and had no space to play in, usually we could only play in the school and that was a big part of the reason why I enjoyed school very much.
During my teens I was given a chance to lead my peers as an official leader of the youth organization in my Barangay in South Cotabato, our aim was to earn money as a group and what we earned was used to fund the organizations projects, I had that role for 2 years. Unfortunately I wasn’t as successful in my studies, I stopped studying after I finished 2nd year of my Highschool, because the physical labor of just going to school was too much for me. We had no form of transportation back then and so I had to walk 7km going to school and another 7km going back, I was doing this for almost everyday and just decided to stop, instead I helped my parents in the rice field, plowing the land, planting the seed, and the like.
Our family then moved to Pangantucan Bukidnon to find better a better life. it was in Pangantucan Bukidnon where I met my husband. We got married in 1970 and as funny as it sounds I didn’t really feel anything when we got married because it didn’t feel real, the fact that I was getting married didn’t really sink in yet, I only realized that I was living a married life when I gave birth to my 1st child. Both of us were also farmers. It was also around this time that the president declared martial law fortunately though our barangay wasn’t affected by the government and the rebels, in fact it was rather peaceful.
At around 1990 my husband and I together with my children transferred to Malaybalay Bukidnon because we thought Malaybalay had better opportunities for us in farming, and it did because unlike in Pangantucan where there was a 3-4 months or rotation for farming in Malaybalay you could farm all year long. When we first came to Malaybalay everything was great from financial to the environment, because even if you had no money before you could barter for food unlike today money is essential for survival, and before the climate was cold but now it’s very hot because of the people transferring to Malaybalay with most of them have little to no care for the environment.
If I had the chance to choose between living now and living before, I would definitely choose living before, but all I can do now is to look forward and live my life. Looking back in my life I have no regrets because I believe that God has everything planned and everything that happened in my life is according to his will from the happy moments like being able to see my children living a good life and even my grandchildren to the sad moments like seeing my health and the health of my husband deteriorating, I’ll just have to trust in his plans.
Interviewer: Kisho Tsuchiya
Consider the significant of testimonies such as Unie’s, which sharply contrast against the traditional narratives surrounding Mindanao, Philippines during the Cold War.
What does Unie’s largely peaceful experience during the Cold War era suggest about the nature of the Philippines’ Cold War?