Taguig, My Hometown

It was 1987 when we first moved to Taguig. There was where I lived the longest in the Philippines.

History. I remember the time when it was spelled as T-A-G-I-G (minus the U). In grade school, through a research homework, I learned that the inhabitants during the Spanish regime were called “taga-giik” (one who threshes harvested rice). And so the name evolved to how it is pronounced now – tuh-gig.

Geography. Taguig is a part of the National Capital Region. It is by Laguna Bay and has within it two rivers. Around it are the town of Pateros, the province of Rizal, and the cities of Pasig, Makati, Paranaque and Pasay.

Weather-wise, the whole region gets months of rain (and storms) and months of sun, sun, sun!

View from the top
Creative Commons License photo credit: bensonkua

In 2003, after winning against Makati City over Fort Bonifacio, Taguig has since proudly claimed and collected taxes from everything that is seen or held within the Bonifacio Global City. In my belief, the victory fueled the push for city-hood which it was granted the following year. I think one of the earlier bigger recognitions of the city was Manny Pacquiao’s fight in 2004 titled “Yanig sa Taguig“.

Taguig LocationTaguig is proudly home to International schools such as the Japanese School, British School, and International School Manila, the new St. Luke’s Medical Center, The Fort and Market Market mall.

Since my column is more about my personal recollection of my life in the Philippines, I want to share more about the barrio I grew up in. Taguig has 18 barangays, one of which is my home barangay – Wawa.

Wawa is basically and understandably where I feel most comfortable living in. I used to work nights at a call center in Quezon City and the minute I got off the trike at the end of our street to get on a jeepney, I always felt the need to ‘wake myself up’ and be alert. While when I used to come home late, the minute I stepped off the jeepney right at our street, I felt like I was already home. I used to walk that quarter mile however late it was. And I felt as secure as when I was out in daylight.

during one of the many fiestas in Wawa

During one of the many fiestas in Wawa

I guess you can say that Wawa is a typical urban community. It is not a private subdivision, although I have always said, it has the feel of one. The houses are not all big. If there is grass area, it’s at the bottom boundary of Wawa. So mowing the lawn is something I only learned when I got here in the US.

With people working all over Metro Manila and some in the province of Laguna, Wawa wakes up at around three o’clock in the morning.

When Jeff visited me there for the second time, we lived with my parents. He told me about this sound he heard exactly at three in the morning. It was a “wack-a-wack-a-wacka-a” sound”, he said. Finally on the third day, he got up and went out to find out what it was. It was a teen-age boy honking a traditional horn on a bicycle with a box tied at the back of the seat. That was the first round of the hot pan de sal for the early birds. (Since then Jeff and I refer to pan de sal as the wack-a wack-a bread.)

Water is also one of the reasons why people get up early. In the morning, there is always more pressure and of course it is faster to fill water containers. Jeff also did that when he was there.

There is a little vegetable area near us where they plant sweet potatoes and harvest the leaves (yes, we eat the sprouts and the leaves) and then delivered by tricycle every morning.

At four o’clock, the students are definitely up and start to take their cold showers. We have a saying in the Philippines that “only the first dip (make that dipper of water) is cold”, meaning after you get yourself wet, your body evens out the temperature and that the water would seem not that cold.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the early risers are those who go to the big wet market that is actually in Pasig City but only about a thirty minute jeepney ride with little or no traffic at that time of the day.

Breakfast is big in the Philippines and definitely in our barrio, it is served quite early. We have about three to four spots where you can have breakfast for at least seven pesos. They serve lugaw or rice porridge, to which you can add a hard-boiled egg (for five pesos– 2007 price) pancit or stir-fried noodles, sopas or (chicken) noodle soup, pancit palabok, pancit malabon (both a variety of the stir fried noodles), champorado which is basically rice in cocoa and cream and sinukmane (pronounced as see-nook-muh-nhe) which is a clump of sticky rice rolled in coconut shreds and sugar. But if you wake up at eight, there is hardly any left. Breakfast is definitely over by nine.

In Wawa, most everybody knows most everybody. Life, family, work, friends, boyfriends, break ups, cheating, mistresses and children out of wed-lock. Gossip is the favorite past time in the neighborhood. And it starts while and when the pan de sal is baked at dawn.

At about lunch, the moms are busy getting their second shift students to school and maybe fetching those from the first shift.

By late afternoon, kids are home from school and ready for dinner while watching the prime time soap operas. Those who got home from work come out to get some fresh air and some fresh gossip of the day.

The little retail stores close late. One that sells footlongs and burgers close at about one o’clock for those who eat a ‘fourth meal’.

There is a small chapel, a big and four-century old Catholic church, a wet and dry market, a few dental and lying-in clinics, two public and one private elementary and a public and a private high school, the City hall, a big pharmacy and now even a Joliibee (!) within a walking distance from Wawa. Within a trike ride, there is a good size water park. There is also a hotel in the town of Pateros that is just a short jeepney ride from Wawa. That was where Jeff and I and his parents stayed that morning of our wedding day.

There is absolutely no time of the day when you look outside that you see no people. There are kids running, people walking, talking or just hanging out. Always. You could imagine how puzzled I was when I first I got here in the Midwest. At nine o’clock, with beautiful weather and all, I look outside and…. silence. At first I thought, was there a big rally or something that everybody in the neighborhood attended that left the area looking like a ghost town in the middle of the day?

Even right at this moment and in between typing, I look out the window and see only my neighbor’s cars and boat and a few vehicles every so often. I have gotten quite used to it. But I always remember how it is where I came from. Almost always, the people -like the sun, are out and smiling.

Post Author: Michelle (7 Posts)

Michelle grew up in Taguig City, Philippines where she finished her primary and secondary education. She took Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Sta Mesa, Manila). Although she was unable to finish, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise that made way for "real world" experiences and even more colorful stories to tell. She now lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her American husband and their two young Fil-Am's. Michelle is no longer a LiP writer.


Comments

  1. Joe says

    Michelle you write very well. I enjoyed the essay and particularly the ending–”Almost always, the people -like the sun, are out and smiling.”

    I always associate the Philippines with what I call “the smile”.

    It is impossible to ignore and it is so attractive.

    Jody

  2. queeniebee says

    Hi Michelle. I like the look of Taguig–residential but still citified. When I watch some of the afternoon “dramas” or even movies, there’s always reference to somebody living there. Isn’t nearby Pateros the famous place for balut? Is that popular in Taguig too? I know what you mean about living in the states and not in or near a city. In the states, When I visit my sister-in-law in the suburbs, I wake up and feel like a bomb has dropped–where were all the people? I can imagine you could be lulled into the hum of Wawa’s daily routine and look forward to that pan de sal every morning…

  3. dan2vero says

    Hello Michelle,

    Great article about your hometown in Philippines. Thats funny while visiting my home state of Maryland here, we have a new convience store/gas station here called “Wawa”, and my dad said “what does that mean?”..of course I didn’t know.
    Another thing about your article, is about how there are people outside ALL the time. Even though Rose comes from a less populated place as Tagiug, there in Maasin City, Leyte there seems to be people out and about at all hours too, because when I send her pictures of the neighborhood I live at in West Palm Beach, she always says “whats wrong, where are all the people at in the street??”

    Salamat kaayo,
    Danny :)

  4. says

    Hi Michelle,
    your description of your town, remainds me of any spanish town,in the provinces on the 1960´s
    I put it on my list of places to visite next January.
    Have a nice day.
    PS.I am going for lunch and SIESTA.

  5. Paul says

    Hi Ading – After reading your most enjoyable article, I find myself sad & lonely and homesick! Only a week more and I’ll shake those feelings off.

    While home, we awaken “late” – just before the sun comes up – take our morning 2km walk to the panaderia in the poblacion for warm pan de sal. No “wacka-wacka” out in our barangay – no entrepreneurs to bring it out + many farm wives are up much earlier making their own for their family! Still, we are able to get some of the last, remaining pan de sal. (The sun comes up during our walk back, and keeps the pan de sal warm for us :) .)

    I’ll be thinking of your article all day, now! Gee – mailiwak! :sad:

  6. dan2vero says

    Hi Queeniebee,

    I think Rose has told me that Ormoc City is about 2 or 3 hour bus drive from Maasin City, and the ferry to Cebu from Maasin is about 3 or 4 hours depending on the type of boat that takes you over there.
    We will be visiting Cebu more than Ormoc for business reasons, when I eventually get there.
    Maasin City is very beautiful, and small place to live. Just like so many places there in the Philippines. Also I am sure we will be in Cebu for shopping, for those things we can’t find in Maasin City..thats for sure.

    Salamat kaayo,
    Danny :)

  7. says

    Hi again,can you tell me if your grand parents ,or your parents use to do a SIESTA as part of his way of life?
    may be they still do?
    thanks in advace for your raplay.
    have a nice evening.

  8. Evelyn says

    Michelle, what a great discription of life in the PI. It sounds so much like my time spent in Olongapo in the early 80′s. I sang Folk music in a bar called the Cork Room,while living in the PI, and usually finished about 2 in the morning. Always people around. I would ride the Jeepny home by myself and never felt any danger. After arriving home I would sit for an hour or so on my front porch before going to bed. Never a lack of people. Now here it is almost 3 in the afternoon on this beautiful summer day, and your right no one in sight. Not even a cat or a dog. They are all inside resting in the Aircon. Just like me.

    have a great day
    Evelyn

  9. chasdv says

    Hi Michelle,
    You certainly made me laugh about people gossiping.
    One thing i have learn’t,gossiping is a national pastime in PI,LOL.

    regards Chas.

  10. Erika says

    Hi Michelle. Although I have been staying in Metro Manila since March, I haven’t been to Taguig yet. I did, however, identify with many of the descriptions of your neighborhood. What stuck out to me was getting up early for water! This might be because I have had to get up early (4am) to fill my water tank for the past week and a half. Usually, we have good pressure during the hours we have access to water (midnight to noon), but they have been doing some major water work and by 8am there’s almost no pressure at all. For others who might not think of it(like me), if you try to fill your tank when there isn’t enough pressure, it won’t “just” take a long time. It will drain every drop of your tank. Like Wawa, my neighborhood has the street vendors with their unique sounds to identify their approach. I love that I can get fish, vegetables, fruits, bread and all kinds of snacks–my favorite is taho–from my door step. So thank you for sharing about Taguig and Wawa in particular.

  11. Andy says

    Hello Michelle, Much to late of reply but I have been in Isabel, Leyte since 3rd of july and have not spent too much time on pc.
    To Danny, looks like if you are 3 hours by bus from Ormoc, then I am only 3 hours by motorcycle from you. So we will meet when you get here.
    Now Michelle, Merlin lived 5 years in Laguna before I sent her back home to Isabel. I am small town person and Barangay she is from is just right. Unless it was our home to be, I could not throw a rock at closes house. Well maybe, but I like the neighbors too much. And if I was short, I could hit bike or bus going by on National highway.
    I wake to chickens every morning, but they do not wake me. Merlin’s sister is up at 3:30 every morning to start breakfast. How do I know?
    that is usually when I have to get up to use CR. When house is repaired next door for us, maybe I sleep in. Like 5:00, American time for me. I have to go back to California for three weeks in a few days to take care of last remaining business and then here forever. Thank you again for all your insightful information of the place I soon call home. Being in a small place that is not a tourist type of town, and being the only Kano I have seen I three weeks has been a challenge. Do not take it wrong. The people here have been so good to me. English is very rare to find. But wherever I go someone comes to help. Oh I have Merlin most times, but I like to ride into town and explore on my own. My two new nephews, 24 and 19 have invited me to join there barangay motorcycle club. Four goals but I only had to read first to say yes. ” Protect Our children and Barangay from drugs ” Do mot take wrong, It is not like DDS. It is education. 24 year old is college teacher. Have a wonderful day, I am.

  12. says

    Jody, Thank you for your kind words. I have never valued sunshine until the excitement of experiencing my first winter died down. And it is truly hard sometimes to avoid the “winter blues”. I honestly believe that the Filipinos are as smiley as they (we) are because the warmth of the sun kind of breaks the depression of the night before and gives sort of a promising new day, every day, and almost all year long.

    On behalf of my fellow countrymen (and women :-) ), thank you for the compliment.

  13. says

    Phil n Jess, It is a crowded city. Specially if one is used to the peace and quiet in the rural areas of the US. When I first got here, and every time we went to Jeff’s farm, I used to always say, “the silence is defeaning.” He’d say, “You’re just not used to peace and quiet.” And then I’d say, “No, I’m just not used to lonelieness.”

    I guess everything truly is relative.

    How are you by the way?

  14. says

    queeniebee, Hi. Let me thank you first for reading and leaving a comment. It’s always special when I hear from you.

    Yeah, Taguig has become more popular but I’d say only in the last maybe six years or so. It used to be the town in Metro Manila that many didn’t know about. Haha. You’re right about Pateros and balut. And yes it is quite popular in Taguig, too. In fact, my Dad (& his trike) used to deliver balut. And then, other than cash, they give him some, usually the cracked eggs.

    I am definitely a people person. But now, at least I have kind of disciplined myself to continue growing and finding avenues to be productive even when I feel that I don’t get to “show what I got” to many people. I’m not sure if this is a little confusing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you are always around people, there is definitely more drive to excel and be the best you can be because those around you will give you either thumbs up or thumbs down. But it has got to do with me also being a stay at home wife and mom to two little ones who for now can’t do very many things (although this summer has been a blast so far). You know, during winter, whether I brush my hair or not, nobody will really know or say anything. ;-)

  15. says

    dan2vero, I honestly don’t know the etymology of Wawa (wuh-wuh). I have a vague memory of reading it or hearing about it but I may be mistaken. You know one reason why we usually feel safe after all is that there is always somebody out in the streets who could “look after you” in a way. So usually, nothing happens that not at least one soul sees or knows about.

    Thanks Danny.

  16. queeniebee says

    Hi Danny, you know I got to thinking I wanted to look up Maasin City, just so that I could visualise it in my mind. I found some really nice photos in images, and your coming place is very pretty. It reminds me of my town in Cebu, although I think you are closer by a main road to Ormoc. You’ll be right across from us over the Comotes Sea!

  17. queeniebee says

    Hi Michelle, I know what you mean about the lonliness… once back in the 1990′s it was May, and we had come to visit and we were staying in a really small bedroom in my in-laws house. The electric fan had broken in the night. In the morning I woke up to the sound of dogs barking and roosters crowing, when all of a sudden the loud refrain piped up outside from Michael Jackson’s “you are not alone…” I really didn’t appreciate it at the time, but now after all this time the close proximity of family, neighbors, even animals is comforting to me. Well, at least we have aircon now though! I never feel isolated here as I can even in a city in the states. As you expressed, the sense of “community” and “belonging” is something I l too love about my home in the Philippines.

  18. queeniebee says

    Oh Michelle, Don’t be too hard on yourself–you seem smart and capable and I think you have a lot to offer. Sometimes when you’re a stay-at-home Mom it’s hard to measure how you feel about yourself, out of the workforce and the “loop” especially inside during cold winters. Enjoy your family and keep contributing! Sorry to stray off topic a little…

  19. Evelyn says

    Danny, I have returned recently, October, from So. Leyte. We where able to visit Maasin City and also Sogod. They where both fun huseling bustlinbg cities. My Favorite place to stay was 1/2 way between both cities, Peter’s Dive Resort. I believe truly the most beautiful place in the world. I hope you get a chance to stop by there.

  20. says

    queeniebee, I am actually “networking” with other Filipinos around here a lot more often now. And you nailed it with that phrase “sense of community”. I like that. I am finally having some courage to practice driving and it’s slowly giving me the sense of freedom also that I will eventually get to go anywhere I pleased without waiting for an available driver.

    It was definitely a lot harder in my first several months here. It still gets me once in a while, but as sunny as St Louis is these past weeks, being sad is not on my list. :-)

    Thank you for your sweet words. I think the kids growing up will be sort of bittersweet. Jeff and I are actually kind of scared about our younger one becoming a toddler and not having a baby in the house. We’ve had to tend to at least one crying/laughing/butt dirtying/babbling baby continuously since 2006! We’ve gotten so used to it, we are actually fearing what will happen next! :-)

  21. says

    Manong Paul, You must be in the Philippines by now. Congratulations and good luck to another chapter in your life. I’m sure you will be full of stories about the changes in the Philippines and specially the changes you yourself have gone through from before you left your hometown.

    I’d like to learn to bake my own pan de sal. Jeff is reluctant to buy me a bread maker though because he says the ingredients cost more to make it than just to buy the bread. And we’re not much of a bread consumer really. (But see maybe that’s because he hasn’t tasted my freshly baked pan de sal, right? ;-)

    Hope you and your baket are having a wonderful day!

  22. says

    Evelyn, Thank you for sharing. And wow! Two in the morning! I think times have changed too all over the world, you know. I used to say, I wish I grew up in the seventies. I have seen the old Manila in some old movies, and it sure looked a lot better then.

    These days, I always remind myself that summer is so short that I have to make every day a “picnic”. So I always make it a point or make an excuse to do something outside. I then appreciate the AC so much more after the heat! Hehe.

  23. says

    Erika, Thank you for your comment and I hope your water pressure is back and better by now.

    You know, when I first got here and saw my husband, Jeff’s frozen meat, I didn’t want to eat them. They were mostly dated the prior month but I had never known of that before. We used to buy meat a week before it is cooked, at the earliest. So I wanted to throw all of his frozen meat away thinking they were no good! Hahaha!

  24. says

    Andy, I’m sure your stay will only get more and more colorful for you. I think the natural curiosity to culture and ways of life always bring a sense of discovery and the feeling of fulfillment that you get to experience this different way of life while some others have not even thought of leaving their comfort zone. One thing for sure, and this I promise, is that your stay in the Philippines will always give you something to ponder on and learn about. I hope you let every experience contribute to your growth.

    Good luck and enjoy!

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