The origin of my so-called sentiments

Image of a mountanous area in the Southern Tagalog region of the Philippines

Our place was not exactly locked by mountains but lack of concrete roads 30 years ago minimized access to commerce and education/


My sentimentality could probably be traced upon those rice fields I walked on when I was little. I grew up in the boundary of two small villages surrounded by mountains on three sides. The fourth mountain’s already too far to fence in our humble settlement, our little civilization in that forgotten side of the province. And anyway, it’s actually a mountain range that stretches too long – too bluish green, too distant and too far –  from where my family and I used to live. Thus, the first strong feeling I had, was my wonderment at what could be there, beyond those mountains. Every time I would walk on those paths in the fields with some of the rice leaves touching my face, I would resolve to get out of the barrio to see for myself what could be out there, beyond and away.

The second sentiment, I believe, has something to do with slippers. In our place, walking was a way of life. By the way, am talking three decades ago when cemented roads was but a dream. It was common in those days to be walking three to four kilometers going to a place and same distance going back. Thus, a pair of slippers had the utility almost similar to having a car in the modern days. But a family with a dozen members could barely afford such – each child was accorded one pair a year. With a fair amount of walking, a pair could hardly hold up until the middle of the year. Our slippers usually had big holes in them. Stepping on the city for the first time when I was ten,  imagine the consternation I felt upon seeing hundreds and hundreds of pairs being sold in the market. I think that was my first realization that we were very poor…

The third and possibly the strongest sentiment I had and still have, has something to do with learning. There were very few books in our house as there were some borrowed copies of old magazines and practically no writing materials.  I think our mother endeavored to buy a pencil or a pen and a crayon set for each child every start of school year but that was it. We had to borrow or make do in between, practicing writing at the back of her student’s checked exam papers. No books were bought for us from elementary to high school, the slim family budget saw to that. My siblings and I all went to public  schools during our primary and the books we used then were government- issued. The book ratio during my time was 1:3, that is, one book for every three students. All of us survived that phase, I guess. There really wasn’t much choice.



In high school, I saved for months to be able to buy my first two textbooks. It was mandatory for students to have a personal copy, our teacher was the author. The fateful subject was Practical Arts or Home Economics, in third year and fourth year. Going thru the texts of the slim book, I felt proud as could be.  Putting coins in my Johnson’s Baby Powder piggy bank paid off, haha. ^_^


larawan ng johnson's baby powder

One bores a hole on the top of the canister to make a piggy bank/


39 comments on “The origin of my so-called sentiments

  1. J.A. Vas says:

    this entry is full of atmosphere. I enjoyed reading it!! 🙂 especially the last paragraph reminded me of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu”-Trilogy. and I mean this as a compliment! 🙂

    • thank you very much, J.A. where i came from was a remote barrio – poor, far and downtrodden. but it was full of plants and trees, back then. the roads were very dusty during summer and muddy during rainy seasons. ^^

      have to find a copy of Apu trilogy. thanks for your compliment. 🙂

  2. Very relieving ang post na ito. Ang sarap basahin. 🙂

  3. renxkyoko says:


    But you were happy, weren’t you? This is more important than having so much material possessions.

    • In a sense, yes… In several other senses, am afraid not… I guess it was a simple and poor life. We were happy until we learned that other people lived differently, that there are other, better ways to live. And inevitably, soon enough, one learns and begin to yearn for other things, other people, other places, ahaha. 😉

  4. bagotilyo says:

    kahit gano pa kasintimyento ang buhay noon meron pa din tlagang natitirang masarap balikan at ngitian. gaya ng pulbos na ginawang alkansya na yan 🙂

    • ah, oo, meron ngang simplicity and beauty roon sa nakaraang masarap balikan. meron ding masasakit at kung maaari ay hwag nang balikan. pero, yes, natutuwa ako sa alkansyang gawa sa Johnson’s, haha. di sya kapareho nong maarteng alkansyang nabibili, haha. ^^

      hello, bagotilyo… thanks for coming over. happy weekend! 😉

  5. krn says:

    Akala ko nung una you were born affluent. Nakakainspire talaga ang mga humble beginnings. 😉

  6. ladyfi says:

    Very insightful post.

  7. nadia says:

    Remembering one’s humble beginnings is a good thing, ‘San. It makes you appreciate the blessings and luxuries you currently have. I can relate to this post in the sense that my mother used to tell me that her family used to live in a barrio surrounded by rice fields. She would be required by her father, a hard-working farmer, to help during weekends and summer breaks from school. My mother hated getting herself in the mud, the carabaos standing nearby were smelly, and the rice leaves made her skin itch. Then whenever she saw a plane fly overhead, she’d vowed to herself to ride in that plane one day and travel far away from those itchy rice fields.

    PS: Several years ago, I begged my mother to show me those rice fields (my grandparents had moved to live in the city after their children graduated college). For the first ten minutes, I was mesmerized by the endless fields of rice plantation, then my skin began to itch.

    • Hello, Nadia. Yes, I think so, too. That’s probably one of the reasons why my first blog was about life in the barrio – to pay tribute to the place I come from somehow… ^^

      Ahaha, your mother’s story is rather nice. But she’s so pretty in the pic, I can understand her not liking rural life very much, haha. We also have one sister who was pretty (she still is, but not like before) so she was exempted from work in the farm and from domestic chores, as well. She eventually learned some though, when she got married.

      Oh, we had no carabaos in our place. We have cows aplenty, though. Ahaha, I don’t remember palay leaves to be that itchy. What I know to be super itchy were the corn leaves and stalks and also, sugarcane’s, haha.

      Btw, the princess of the clan shouldn’t have been allowed in the fields. But what do I know, she’s curious and probably deserves some scratches and itches, ahaha. peace! 😉

      • nadia says:

        My mother, being the unica hija, was really spoiled. As a young girl, she believed that she was born in the wrong place, lol 😀

        Haha! I am no princess, ‘San, but that doesn’t mean my skin won’t complain. I swear those palay leaves are itchy!

      • Ahaha, yeah, that’s a nice thought – being born in the wrong place, hmnnn… Can I borrow that? 😉

        Nah, Nadia, dear, it isn’t the palay leaves that need to be complained of. It’s the planting process, I swear. It’s a backbreaking endeavor. I’ve always wondered why mechanization of farming hasn’t proceeded apace worldwide. It’s oppressive, no kiddin.’ 🙂

  8. nadia says:

    Yes, go ahead. Those words aren’t copyrighted … yet 😀

    Oh, I agree with you that the planting process of rice is a form of oppression! These poor farmers aren’t compensated justly in accordance to the hard work that they do.

    • Thanks, dear. I’ll try to write a post about that one day – being born in the wrong place, haha.

      Ah, yes. That probably applies to big farms where farmhands are given low compensations. But in our place, there are only a few landlords, most farms are privately-owned. Those are called small landholdings which earn very little anyway. Most people have abandoned farming and chose to work in factories instead or as overseas workers abroad. Farming is hard work and it should have technology, know-how and sustained support system to enable a robust agriculture at the national level. Haha, I think I said a lot, huh?! 😉

      • 100kpinoy says:

        “Farming is hard work and it should have technology, know-how and sustained support system to enable a robust agriculture at the national level…”

        hard work indeed, thus the steps must be one stride at a time…

        the comment i wrote on your “holding it in” the up and mentioned idea has in direct relation on how to bring some change on the way our people will look at “farming, sustainability, recreation and more….”

        if i may further indulge you 😉

      • ah, sige, later tonight, i’ll reply to your comment at the Holding It in page, 100kpinoy. just got to go now. regards! 🙂

  9. what a beautiful composition this is dear! Nostalgic I am reading this….Sentimentality is for sure rooted in deeply felt circumstances and often childhood is the major reservoir that houses and nurtures these experiences…experiences that do last a lifetime. was so reminded of Pip from Charles Dickens’s The Great Expectations!

    Wishing you many more sincere, warm posts!


    • Thank you very much, PC. Am glad you appreciate it… Yes, my early blog was about life in the countryside, written in Tagalog. Yes, those rice fields must have formed my early impressions – the dirt, the mud and the birds hovering above ripening palays and corns. Some of my poetry could probably be traced then and there, while contemplating the green patterns in the countryside and awaiting the hawks and the ravens that would swoop down the harvests. I must have looked at the country sky too much, haha. ^^

      Ahaha, I also like the character of Pip and yes, Great Expectations. Btw, I think I read most of Dicken’s work, haha. Thanks for your appreciation and well-wishes. My best regards… 😉

  10. This reminds me of my moma! hehehe. nice post!

    At yung saving sa Johnson Piggy Bank, ginagawa ko pa rin yan hanggang ngaun. Isasave ko nlan ang pera kesa ibili ng alkansya! 😀

    • gano’n ba? ahaha, salamat, salamat… 🙂

      naku, wala na akong johnson’s na alkansya these days. sabagay, wala rin me na pera, ahaha. 😉 salamat sa pagdaan, gian carlo. 🙂

  11. singkamas says:

    Aw, naalala ko rin yung Johnson’s Baby Powder piggy bank ko nung bata ako, pati na rin paglalakad sa pilapil. Saka yung Doon Po Sa Amin. 😀

  12. 100kpinoy says:

    thanks for this post. it brings back old and similar memories…. 🙂

    thanks also for dropping by at my site… cheers!

  13. From remote rice paddies, worn-out slippers and Johnson baby powder piggy bank, I believe you have come a long, long way. It’s quite a nostalgic and inspiring post.

  14. hello, PT,

    ah, there are no more rice paddies in our place for almost 20 years now, sadly. rice farming died a natural death there, i suppose… ahaha, not a long way, am afraid. just got college education, lived in the metro, mixed with some people but not really gone a long way, i suppose. ^^

    i don’t know, it’s probably not that easy to get away from one’s origins? ^^ many thanks for dropping by… regards! 🙂

  15. 100kpinoy says:

    na try mo ba yung oval shaped na sardines can.. gagawing trak-trakan. ang gulong ay tansan 🙂

    • ah, my brothers used to do that 30 years ago, maybe. pag minsan, nakikihila-hila rin kami… rose bowl sardine cans! ^_^ btw, ang sarap ng sardinas na ‘yon. tapos, agaw-agawan pa, maraming kanin… 😉

  16. J9 says:

    Lately my grandmother has been sharing a lot of stories from her childhood with me. I was surprised at how poor her family was, but she doesn’t see it. She says everyone lived that way, that they were resourceful and learned to live on very little. Her mother once dyed bed sheets green to make Easter dresses for her and her sister, and still she says they weren’t poor! There are very few of us in this world who can think of our childhoods any better than bittersweet.

    • Ah, that could also be true for most of the people from our village – the life and the attitude… But with us, things turned a bit differently. Our mother came from a well-to-do family in the center and of course, she tried very hard to introduce us to the outside world and to get us some education. If we were not able to get out of the place, I doubt if I’d be telling this story online. Maybe I’d just be contented with our lot and the chances provided by the little village.

      Yes, they’re bittersweet memories… We’re torn about things – the simplicity of olden times versus the crippling poverty and privation, I guess…

      Thanks for sharing your grandma’s sweet story. Cheers! 😉

  17. chilledhoney says:

    Ako din! Ako din!!! (nakataas ang dalawang kamay!!!!!)

    May piggy bank na Johnson and Johnson HIHIHIHI…(In fairness, naka-300pesos din ata ako nun ^_^, nagblow out ako sa mga kaklase ko ng banana cue at coke, birthday ko kasi nung kinatay ko si J and J na piggy bank hahahahah…..)

    I tried doing it with my kiddos….

    Ang sabi ba naman, “Mom, see? It says here, baby powder. Why are we going to put coins in? ” Bog!Di ba marunong magbasa si Mom, Ha?

    Anak ng puting kalabaw na nilalangaw, di ako nanalo!

    Kailangang bumili ng piggy bank na may nakalagay sa tatak, “piggy bank”. OO, yung may nakalagay talaga na “piggy bank” (gigil!)

    In fairness, ang hirap manalo sa debate ha?


    • hala, ang yaman mo – P300? ikaw na, chilled honey… 🙂

      actually, noong nasa elem kami, may rural bank na pumunta at nag-experiment ng small savings habit sa students. nag-open ako ng account do’n – minsan piso ang hulog, minsan three pesos, ahaha. nakarami rin yata ako no’n, as in… medyo mahirap lang i-sustain kasi, alam mo naman sa baryo, ang hirap magkapera, walang masyadong mapagkabuhayan. ayon… ^^

      the J& J piggy bank is really the old way to save. pero it’s one experience na feeling ko, hula ko, most people appreciate and treasure, as in… 🙂

      hala, di ko alam if kids nowadays will appreciate baby powder piggy bank, hihi. parang hindi? iba na kasi ang sourcing ng income and yes, as you said, ang dami nang magagandang alkansyang nabibili, hehe. sorry na lang, mommy 😉

      basta yata, ang importante – to teach the children the habit and to make them see na hindi lahat ng pera ginagastos agad, haha. and, hindi lahat ng gusto, pwedeng bilhin… bow! i thank you… hello! 😉

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