person’s most inner thoughts and reactions are learned from their past. The way
we move, the way we think, and the way we interact to one another is all thanks
to the history we have lived. We experience great things in life that
definitely affects the choices we make.
Without our past molding us to become who we are, there is no room for
expression and beliefs, we are left empty without a way to think for ourselves.
Through careful analysis and research, I’ve compiled a “mini-ethnography”
of the life of my grandmother, Peregrina Benusa Vedad during World War II. Though most Filipinos in
in the mountains and dropping your life is one thing, but dealing with problems
such as war as a child is another. My
grandmother Peregrina was only 11 years old when word spread about a war
breaking out in the
in fact fits in with a whole group of Filipinos that has experienced World War
II as a child. At a tragic time like
to this interview I conducted with Peregrina, all I knew about World War II was
taught to me from a book.
and hear first hand about history is amazing, especially from someone you are close with. All in all, the experience my grandmother had lived through has molded her to become what she is today; a hard working, dedicated, and independent woman of her time.
the tender age of eleven, my grandmother, Peregrina was told to gather as much
of her belongings because they were going on a little trip. Peregrina couldn’t really grasp the idea of
their departure, but followed her parent’s instructions. That same day, they arrived to their destination. Peregrina and her family including her
mother, her father, her older sister, her mom’s sister and her husband, and
a few of their maids fled to the high
mountains of the Visayan Islands. According to the book, The Best War Ever,
Many Filipinos at that time thought that the best way to avoid the war was to simply run away from it. Most Filipinos, depending from the island that they were from thought that the best way to run away from their city was to flee to the top of the mountains. That way, it would be a lot easier for them to find coverage if anything emerges. According to an interview with Araceli Orcena, conducted by Valerie Orcena, Araceli too fled to the mountains of her town in Lucban, Quizon. Although both women at that time lived in two separate parts of the country, the same ideology of fleeing to find refuge is still there. Both women fled to the mountains with their families, and both women were still young in age, Araceli being nine years old at that time. Today however, my grandmother Peregrina is not only affected by this particular occurrence, but has molded herself from this experience. Peregrina today is living a healthy life at the age of 75. She remembers her time at the mountains and uses her experience from there to move on in the present. However, instead of running away from her problems, Peregrina faces her troubles head on and deals with it. Because of her experiences in the past, she has learned to survive and to face whatever problem arises. Peregrina’s relation to other Filipinos out there today is that most children during World War II are in their early 70’s and are now the elders of our time. Their commitment and dedication to work harder is implemented in our heads today, and because of their experience during World War II this has affected us greatly today.
During the war, Peregrina’s was kept from knowing that a war has broken loose in her country. At a young age, most parents believed that not telling their children about dangerous things happening around them is the best thing to do. However, this leads the
child to ask numerous questions and doesn’t make them fully aware of their environment. At the age of 11, Peregrina’s parents did not want her to be scared and to let her know that their lives were in danger. In most cases, this is the best thing to do for a child, but in fact can later lead to the child’s confusion and lack of trust for the adult in most situations. Peregrina however did not really care about her surroundings; she honestly loved the mountains and thought nothing of it. She thought it was amazing how the adults in her family built a great shelter out of bamboos and leaves. She also found it surprising how her family easily adapted to the mountains and its harsh climates. As a child in the mountains, Peregrina did a lot of normal things a little girl would do. She played with her older sister, often doing practical jokes on her, and even helped her mother with supper and prepared meals. Unfortunately at this time, there was no school available for children, so most children forgot what they last learned in class. Despite the lack of education, Peregrina lived her life well while in the mountains. As Peregrina grew older, she later realizes the main reason why her family fled to the mountains. She starts asking questions and hears the shouts from many other villagers. Things start to add up and Peregrina’s fear arises.
In this case, Peregrina, like many other children at that time were told that everything was going to be okay. Most parents kept their children safe by keeping them away from the war. Like Peregrina’s parents, most parents tried to disguise their life in the mountains as anything normal, so that the child will not find and discrepancies of some sort. In fact you still see that a lot today. It’s basically human nature for a parent to keep certain things a secret from their child. If a child were told about everything, their
fears for most would greatly affect their well being. The right choice was made by Peregrina’s parents by keeping the war somewhat of a secret and to ensure to their daughter that everything would be okay. According to an interview with Pat Naguita, conducted by Nathaniel Ramos, Pat herself was only 8 years old at that time, and really wasn’t aware of what was going on. She sensed fear with the villagers but her parents too ensured that everything was going to be okay. Like Pat, my grandmother, was told that everything would be okay. This has affected my grandmother today with two reasons. My grandmother to this day still keeps certain things a secret from all of her children, even though all of them are grown adults. She refuses to tell them about her own problems and ensures them that everything will be just fine. My grandmother simply moves on with her life, even though something big has happened to her. She faces her problems, but does it in a well manner that it seems that nothing has affected her in any shape or form.
Although away from actual war, many Filipinos at that time had pre-assumption of what the Japanese were capable of doing and feared the whole Japanese race. A great connection I had found with Araceli Orcena, Pat Naguita, and my grandmother is the fear all three of these ladies had for the Japanese soldiers. Most Filipinos at this time were scared out of their minds of Japanese soldiers. They completely thought they were horrible and they had so much hatred against these people. One can think that since this fear has happened to three ladies who were children at this time, I can assume that children and adults feared the Japanese and hated them for the things they have done to their country. According to An Eyewitness History: World War II by Carl J. Schneider
Dorothy Schneider it states, “In the huge Battle of Leyte Gulf from October 23
to 25, the Japanese did indeed lure
discoveries and analysis I’ve done throughout this research has definitely
surprised me in more ways than one. I’ve
come to the conclusion that it is impossible for someone to say that their past
hasn’t completely affected how they are today.
My grandmother is a living example of how the war has changed her as a
person and how she lives her life today. She has learned to forgive and she has
learned how to survive, all of the essentials to live a prosperous life here in
to. Although we may have lived decades apart from these women, the generation today can learn a great deal of wisdom and culture. Today, I can see myself going out there and researching more things that this world can offer. History is the number one thing we should prioritize today because without these lessons being taught to us, we cannot learn from the past, and history once again, will repeat itself.
Adams, Michael C.C. “The Patterns
of War, 1939-1945.” The Best War Ever:
Espiritu, Yen Le “Leaving Home:
Filipino Migration/Return to the
Nichols Jr., Chas
S. “Planning Iceberg.”
Orcena, Valerie. Interview with Araceli Orcena. October 2005.
Ramos, Nathaniel. Interview with Pat Naguita. October 2005.
Schneider, Carl J. “The
Sumbang, Daniel. Interview with Peregrina Benusa Vedad. October 2005.