Growing Up with My Great Grandmother

I was born in Davao City to my beautiful Mom. She took care of me for a few years. After I was big enough to be left with my grandma and grandpa she went abroad so she could support our family. My Lola and Lolo, as I call my grandparents, farmed. They grew corn, coconuts, and fruit trees. We lived a simple life. I grew up in a hut. It had bamboo walls and bamboo floors. We fetched water from a spring nearby and had a gas lamp and candles for light at night. This was during the time of no solar lights.

My first babysitter was my great grandmother, Lola Nanay Dominica. She took great care of me and she was my favorite. She used to sing to me “Ili ili tulog anay,” an Ilonggo song. She was a “natibo” and proud of being “natibo.” She wore a patadjong, a camiseta, and a cloth turban in her head. She did not like to wear shoes or flip flops so she walked around barefoot.

When I was young, she was my idol, but as I grew up I noticed the children in my village made fun of her for being different and dressing like a “natibo.” I must admit I felt a little ashamed of my great grandmother, but as I got older, I learned that having a unique culture and tribe was a wonderful thing to have. I also realized that my great grandmother was one of a kind and special. My great grandmother died about 20 years ago, but I remember her to this day and cherish the memories we had together. She was an inspiration to me.