Kipil and Paksiw for Mamay

4.02.2017

My first memory of Tupi, South Cotabato was of a small room beside the kitchen of the old ancestral house. The kids were not allowed to play or make noises near the room where my grandfather Sotero, lived. The only time we would enter during visits was when we would mano upon arriving in the house and to mano again before we leave for home. Sotero was my mother’s father and the only grandparent I had the chance to touch, talk to, and serve meals for. My other grandparents died before I was born. We call Sotero Mamay because he was from Batangas and that was how grandchildren there called their grandfathers.

After World War 2, Mamay, together with my grandmother's family, decided to move south to Mindanao where apparently things were safer and progress was more feasible than up in Luzon. Mamay was in his 20's when they moved south. Back then, accumulation of land properties was easier and needed less legal processes. My grandfather found a land in South Cotabato just beside Dole Philippine's pineapple plantation. During his time, hectares and hectares of vacant agricultural lands were there for the taking, no one owns them except a handful of huge companies including Dole Philippines.



The land he discovered looked more like a jungle compared to its neighboring pineapple plantation. He decided to clean the entire 18-hectare land with the help of his family. They cultivated the land, cut off unnecessary vines, and planted vegetables with their own bare hands. By simply cleaning the entire area that no one owned, it was implied Mamay was taking possession of it. It was that easy back then. But Dole Philippines saw how much potential the cleaned area had for their business, so they decided to plant pineapples on some specific areas that Mamay cleaned. They did that several times.

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