Occupation: Bank Teller
Residence: Santo Domingo Illocos Sur, PI / Mission Viejo, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 21, 2013
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): Primary: Ilocano, English
When I was a kid, my grandfather told me a story about pineapples, and in the Philippines we call pineapples “pinya.” And the story goes:
There was a mother and daughter living along the fields, whose names is Osang, the mother, and Pina, as the daughter, who is the only sibling. Osang didn’t let Pina to do the chores when she was a kid, and ended up doing them by herself instead. When people ask her “why don’t you let your daughter to do the chores? So she could learn!” Osang insisted, “I”ll do it myself because she is still young. I’d rather see her playing, and eating, and having fun.” But then time flew so fast and Osang got sick, weak. So one time she asked Pina to do things for her, and Pina did, of course with complaints. That one day her mother Osang wasn’t really able to get up and cook, so Pina went to the kitchen and supposed to cook, but then she couldn’t find a ladle. She screams, she yells, at her mother, that she couldn’t find the ladle. And her mom get annoyed and said, “I wish you have a lot of eyes to see whatever you are looking for.” And then Pina said, “You just love cursing me like that!” After that, a few days later, Osang recovered from her sickness and got up. She did clean the backyard and noticed there’s a plant that grew while she was doing the gardening, which is the pineapple plant. And the fruit looks like it has a lot of eyes, and then she worried, “This must have been my daughter! Because I remember how I wished that she had a lot of eyes.”
And that told me the story that you should learn how to help, even when you are still young, still a kid. You should be helping your parents, and have patience in looking for something.
Jennifer, who lives in the Philippines but plans to live here permanently, is very aware of her cultural duties in the Philippines. The Filipino people are very big on respect for their elders, and the women are very aware of their duties as females of the house. From an early age they learn to cook, clean, do all the chores while the men are working. Jennifer is the perfect example of this, as she recognizes my grandmother as the “head” female of the family, and goes around doing chores for her without complaints. She told me that this story, told to her from a young age, helped teach her how to embrace her role in society. But, at the same time, even though the little girls in the Philippines are expected to help their mothers and learn how to run an household, there is a very big emphasis on having fun and playing outside. Jennifer says that she never felt like she missed out on her childhood just because she was expected to help around the house.
When I went to Santo Domingo Ilocos Sur, the province my family is from, I got to witness this dynamic first hand. Even though all the girls were younger than me, they were helping their mothers and grandmothers around the house whenever they weren’t dancing or playing in the streets. It was a sharp contrast from what I was used to at home, because being from Orange County, the kids there, myself included, generally aren’t given those kind of duties. But those kids were the happiest children I have ever seen in my life, despite their busy home lives.