Big Shoes Hard Life

Ernesto Atienza, philippines

Interviewed by Frances Capistrano


"I only have one pair of shoes and I only use it during christmas and fiestas. After an hour i have to take it off because it made my feet sore and I cant have fun on fiestas because of those big shoes of mine that kept faling off my feet."

Have you ever worn bigger clothes that it always so loose that it fell from your body? I did I wore big clothes when I was young cause my parents cant afford to buy me clothes every time I grow so they buy me clothes that is bigger so they say that ill grow into it. When I was a kid I only have 1 pair of shoes and its very big because I only use it in fiesta (gathering of relatives and people on the town) and Christmas and my mom puts purges para makasya. ( You put this clothe like to fit.), and then when I go to town fiesta because my shoes is big one hours palang masakit na yung paa ko sa dala dala ko na ung sapatos ko I have to hold it. I have bigger shoes for allowance.


The place where I was born ... We live in a small Nipa hut (a house made with hay and wood). We don’t have any toilet, electricity and it’s surrounded by trees, coconuts and coffee tree so if I want to take a number 2 or 1 I have to dig a hole to do it so the smell won’t stink around the farm. I grew up in the small place in the barrio and our house there has no bed and again we don’t have any toilet and we have 6 people oh no we have 8 people who live there, sometimes we argue because we only have one blanket when we were sleeping were all together so when it was cold we have to squeeze together the blanket was so small, so my brother has this kalapabi (wound) when he sleeps because we push each other and bruise one another for only 1 small blanket. I grew up with all my family and my dad’s a farmer and me. We planted corn, peanuts, and coconuts.


When I was studying ohm I love studying because I hate working on the farm so what I do is I told my mom may test kami bukas (we have a test tomorrow) although I don’t have so I study and study so that’s why I get good grades when I was studying. My tuition is one of the issue to, we live in poverty so I have to borrow books cause we don’t have that much money to buy the books. My parents didn’t sent me to Manila like my other sibling because my parents cant afford to sent us all to manila for greater education so I was left behind and went to college in the province, Luzonia University. In my whole school life I finish college finally and finished  Bachelor of Science and Commerce I didn’t pick that course but I tried studying it because my own mother chose that course for me. Studying was hard specially with not enough allowance that my parents gave me, my mother gave e 1 peso a day that includes 25 cents for Jeepney (type of transportation) fare back and fourth so that’s 50 cents already so I have 50 cents left the other 25 cents is for my lunch Pancit, Chummy (past like snack) the other 25 that is left for me I use it to buy a worksheet to study. I worked too when I was in college I work and work my first work was at a bank called Rural Bank of Sariaya, I was making minimum wage 6 dollars per day oh I mean 6 pesos per day. When I gave my first salary to my mother she cried because she received money from her kids and she was proud that we were working now.


How did I meet my wife? Oh by telephone . She was working, she was connected with oh North West Airlines and I was working at Pepsi. So I was the receiver and I was in charge of past accounts and so she called me and asked me for payments and well I said to her before I give you my check I would like to see you first and she came to my office. After that I married her at the age of 29 years old. I don’t know? Now I have 2 kids, 2 kids one is 30 and one is 25, actually there not kids anymore there are 2 adults now. I don’t have any doubts on raising them here because the United States has a better future. If id have the power to turn back time and let my wife give birth right now I would like them to be born in the Philippines, but when my wife was pregnant a long time ago I would like my children to be born here because of the opportunity and citizen right away. My children visited the Philippines so many times, oh probably 5 time or maybe 6. There action visiting the Philippines umm Wally was too small when he visited the Philippines and Sheri the eldest she visited so many times even when she was not with us. Sheri would like to, she likes the Philippines, Wally on the other hand he didn’t like the Philippines because it was too hot and it has so many mosquitoes.


I was 27 years old when I migrated the United States. The young 27 years old. I helped myself go here, I applied in the U.S embassy and then a month or 2 I got the approval. I had to leave the Philippines within a year but because of the marshal law it took me another 5 years to leave the Philippines. Why do I like here and why did I migrate here? Well I came here because there are more opportunities here than the Philippines. I was employed by Pepsi Cola in the Philippines but till then if you loose your job it’s hard to find another job. There is a social security but it takes long and it’s not enough to earn living but here everything is easy to get even work and social security. Living here is like night and day, heaven and earth. Back in the Philippines I was struggling in Philippines here I’m rich. In my first month here I already have 2 jobs and I was living with my friends living room and it was embarrassing for me but after a year of saving I rented in an in law with my wife coming soon. Work here is easy really but in the Philippines you have I have to finish my work and sometimes I have to work 15 hours a day to get money but here I only have to work for 8 hours and instant money. I worked at the same company for 33 years now and that is my first job here. If I retire and I would go back and fourth here so because I think if I retire I’m going to be a senior citizen that year. I don’t want to leave this place because here I already adjusted here and here I can be cared by professional doctors not like in the Philippines but I like the Philippines too because all my love ones are there and my hometown and half of me is still there.