Tracing roots

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez (The Freeman) - July 10, 2018 - 12:00am

These past four days I have been on a mission to find my family's past. So I went on a trip with my aunt, who also had her own mission, to Barangay Mangagoy in Bislig City. It's probably unheard of today now that its glory days are over. It used to be known for the Paper Industry Corp. of the Philippines, a big company that used to have hundreds of workers. After the business closed in 2001 the place became quiet again.

My grandparents used to transfer from place to place searching for greener pastures to give their children a good life. When the company offered my grandfather a job, my dad and his siblings had their childhood in Mangagoy. All I heard were stories growing up and only visited the place once in 1996. Twenty-one years later I came back to find my roots.

I was amazed to see how history makes you understand yourself. During my visit, I saw the old house where they used to live in and the distances between places like the school, market, and other relatives' houses. People in the area still remembered my old folks whom they described as hardworking and proud that their six children took after them.

Going back to where my family used to live gave me not only a sense of understanding but satisfaction of the many contributions we made to this small place. Watching my aunt meet people from her childhood made me realize how the Filipino by nature never forgets his roots. Wherever they may go, their feet will always bring them home. I guess that's who I was as well. Cebu and Mindanao may be worlds apart but we all grounded by the fact that everybody starts from humble beginnings. We weren't well off. In fact, our family juggled business with odd jobs to get by.

I guess the lesson I will not forget is to always give credit where credit is due for who you are today. If it weren't for the good teachers, mentors, family members, and friends who formed part of my family's childhood, we wouldn't be who we are today. Life in Mangagoy made my family learn the value of discipline, sacrifice, and determination to make it through whatever circumstance. Today, my dad and his siblings live their own lives as professionals, each with a story of how a humble barangay shaped their persona.

I'm not really sure if I have the same story to tell my children. My life in Cebu is comfortable compared to theirs --hard labor, having to walk to school every day, climbing steps just to get home, and many more. One thing is sure though, I can boast of how I went back to that place and came home with a heart full of learning.

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