October 17, 2003
Quirina Flores: mother of Ana Flores. Vegetable dealer and proud mother of eleven.
Interview questions and answers translated between English/Bisayan by Ana Flores.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
STREETBUZZ: Quirina, can we start with your name and when you were born?
QUIRINA FLORES: My name is Quirina Monceda Flores and I was born March 25, 1950 here in Tabon, not so far from Mantalongon. It's a barangay in Dalaguete, on Cebu Island, Philippines.
STREETBUZZ: Please tell us about your childhood.
QUIRINA FLORES: I was the youngest of 15, and now my parents are both deceased. You can expect, in my childhood we experienced a lot of difficulties. I went to school until grade 4, and then I worked on the family farm because we were poor. We grew vegetables. At the age of 15, I was married, my husband was one of our neighbors. He came and worked on our family farm.
STREETBUZZ: How about your own children, did you start right away after you got married?
QUIRINA FLORES: My first child was my girl Yoly, born in 1965. Then we had more children, and that's when I started a small vegetable business, buying vegetables from the farmers. In 1983 my husband had some family problems and so we moved to Surigao (Surigao is at the northern tip of Mindanao Island, 150 miles east of Cebu Island.) My husband became a fisherman and I opened up a sari-sari store. In 1984 I returned to Dalaguete because the business wasn't so good in Surigao, but my husband stayed there. Here I started up my vegetable business again. You know, in that time there weren't roads to bring the vegetables to Mantalongon, there was just walking paths, so we had to carry the vegetables on our backs to get them from Tabon to the market here in Mantalongon. Then, as my business grew, I started to bring my children back here from Surigao, one or two at a time. For example, Ana came here when she was in high school. Since then, there's been changes like some of my children getting married. And then in 1995 we built this house here in Mantalongon.
STREETBUZZ: What's the most important thing in your life?
QUIRINA FLORES: The most important thing is my famiy, my children, that I can say that they're all happy and in good health. I'm happy, yes. And about God, I say thanks, even if we're poor, we're happy, united and together.
STREETBUZZ: Has it been difficult living separately from your husband for all this time?
QUIRINA FLORES: Yes, I'm missing him but for the children it's necessary to do it (live apart), looking for the future. My plan for the future, later, is to go to Surigao to be with my husband, if all the members of my family are already married and in good condition.
STREETBUZZ: Do you have any comments about the Philippines? Any comments about the world?
QUIRINA FLORES: No, no comments, I'm just always busy thinking about my family.
STREETBUZZ: How about the deforestation of the mountains around here? I notice the mountains have fewer trees, and there are more farms than when I was here 2 years ago.
QUIRINA FLORES: Well, it's necessary because Mantalongon is growing, to have more food to survive.
STREETBUZZ: Is there anything else you want to say?
QUIRINA FLORES: Well, I'm happy because of the organization of the PBMA (Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association, an evangelical ministry.) We learned a lot about morals, about God. We learn a lot, we have control over ourself, no drugs or drunkenness, we're more patient. But I'm still a Catholic, even as I belong to PBMA.
STREETBUZZ: Since you brought up the PBMA, any comments about the trial? (Ruben Ecleo, PBMA Divine Master, is presently on trial for the murder of his wife.)
QUIRINA FLORES: Well, they already knew it would happen, and they warned us about it. Yes, the trial is a challenge, so my way to deal with it is to meaure how loyal you are, how faithful you are. It's difficult to explain the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association if you don't know about it, about the origin of it.
STREETBUZZ: Thank you, and congratulations for raising a wonderful family.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW