Recently, my mind has been on my Lola Magde, my great-grandmother on my mom's side. Born Magdalena Danque on Sept 10, 1920 in Iloilo, she lived through WWII in the Philippines, immigrated to the U.S./Turtle Island, and eventually passed away in February 2014 at age 83. She met her husband, Cantalicio Cahandig (b. May 10, 1901), at a young age in Manila after winning a beauty pagaent where the prize was a trip to the capital. It was there in 1940 that she gave birth to their first child, my Lola Cely.
Said to be named after two nose-like islets in the river (ilong-ilong), Iloilo sits on the southeastern part of the island of Panay. Panay was originally inhabited 20,000-30,000 years ago by the Ati people, who, according to legend, sold a portion of the land with Datus fleeing Borneo (see: Maragtas by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro). In the years since, Iloilo has been a site of conflict and resistance throughout Spanish and American colonization, Philippine revolution, and Japanese occupation.
As such, when the Japanese invaded Iloilo during the Second World War, Magde and her family were forced to flee. With her husband enlisted in the U.S. Navy, she and my Lola Cely, who was only a year and a half at the time, went to Cotabato on the island Mindanao. In Cotabato, she gave birth to her second child, my Uncle Frank. From there, they walked east on foot to Davao City, all the while finding places to hide from the Japanese. My Lola says that Magde had a picture of her husband that she had to be careful to hide, because if the Japanese saw that she had a military husband, they'd be killed.
Surviving the occupation, she found a house for her and her family to live in in Davao. Lola Cely talks about Magde's generosity during that time in an excerpt from an interview: