People and Places – Miriam 1 – Where are you from?

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Mark: Where are you from Miriam?
Miriam: I am from the Philippines. I was born in Manila, actually.
Mark: Right.
Miriam: … in 1961
Mark: Your parents are from Manila also?
Miriam: No, my mother and father, actually; they come from two different places. My mother comes from Cebu. Cebu island…
Mark: Uh-huh
Miriam: … some village. A small town called Carmen.
Mark: Mm-hm
Miriam: and my father comes from Visayan … er also in the Visayas … the name is ah La Pistades … ah I forgot … Laitan? anyway somewhere in the Visayas
Mark: …the Visayas is…
Miriam: and then they met in Basilan, which is … where is Basilan? … aahh … somewhere near Zamboanga … in the southern Philippines …
Mark: … in Mindanao?
Miriam: in Mindanao, yeah, somewhere there …yeah … they met … my mother was working in a trading company … she was managing a store … my father ran away from home at age seventeen and was the driver for this trading company. (laughs) My mother is actually fifteen years older than my father.
Mark: Wow.
Miriam: Yeah, so when they met…
Mark: That is unusual in Asia.
Miriam: Very very unusual and my mother already had five children before … before she met my father and I do not why my father decided to marry her … and so they decided to go to Manila.
Mark: Maybe he loved her. Maybe he loved her?
Miriam: Yeah. My father is an honorable man. I really respect him. He is a great person. You know. He is a very humble man. You know. He doesn’t really aah he does not have a university degree. He hasn’t really finished college.
Mark: So what.
Miriam: But he is a Great man … you know the fact that he married my mother already when she had five children with another man…
Mark: Mm
Miriam: Who didn’t support her children … her children were left with her mother back in Cebu …
Mark: Right.
Miriam: So she had to go and work somewhere to support …
Mark: Her children.
Miriam: … her children … to send money to send back.
Mark: and how many children did your mother and father have … together?
Miriam: Four.
Mark: So she had nine altogether?
Miriam: Yeah.
Mark: Right.
Miriam: They went to Manila from Basilan because I think my father had a brother there, who was established already, I think. That was why they went there. And he just did odd jobs mostly driving Jeepneys and my mother was a homemaker but Manila was very simple then so it was just to make money I suppose so I was second. I am second. The second child out of four children.
Mark: Mm-hm. So you were in Manila. You were born in Manila?
Miriam: I was born in Manila.
Mark: And then how long did you stay in Manila?
Miriam: Until I was seven. Yeah. And then we moved to Davao because my father got very sick and since, you know, he is a lot younger than my mother. His older sister, was, I guess the richest among the siblings, among the how many I do not know … five or six children in my fathers family, decided to come to Manila to pick him up and so my mother was left with four kids and no breadwinner. She is still bitter about that until now. She cannot get over the fact that my father had just left…
Mark: Wow!
Miriam: …and she was just left behind with four kids and she had to, you know, fend for herself and find a job to support. So then we decided to go to Mindanao because she has a brother there
Mark: Uh-huh.
Miriam: who was one of the pioneers in Mindanao, actually, who had a lot of land and so that is how we ended up in Mindanao.I was seven when I went to Davao.
Mark: M-hm.
Miriam: My parents bought land.
Mark: And your parents are still alive now?
Miriam: Yes.
Mark: They are both in Davao, now?
Miriam: They are both in Davao. My mother is eighty-three. My father is sixty… so .. fifteen years younger. That makes him sixty-seven, right? No. Sixty-eight. It was just his birthday this month.
Mark: Ok. Wow! Great!

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14 Responses to “People and Places – Miriam 1 – Where are you from?”

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  1. Mark White says:

    Breadwinner means the person who brings home the bread.

    Bread means “money” in this case.

  2. ojieea says:

    breadwinner, means?

  3. ojieea says:

    very useful..but sometimes i cant understand some words,so i go refer to dictionary and thats great because u explain to us also.. when someone ask here..thanks!!

  4. Mark White says:

    Strictly speaking we use “past perfect tense” in this situation but in practice, when we are speaking, we often simplify. We often use “past simple tense” instead of “past perfect tense” if there is no danger of confusion.

  5. Jarek says:

    “ mother already had five children before … before she met my father…..”
    Is it correct? I think she should use the past perfect in the first part of sentence…

  6. Nestor says:

    I looked up the Oxford English Dictionary.
    Here are the two main usage of fend:

    â–  verb
    (fend for oneself) look after and provide for oneself.
    (fend someone/thing off) defend oneself from an attack or attacker.

    So, seems like fend is used only in these two cases, and never used individually.

  7. Mark White says:

    Actually come to think of it, people also talk about “fending off” attackers”. Perhaps “to fend” could mean “to push away”?

    to fend off attackers”

    “to push attackers away”


  8. Mark White says:

    There is a pic of me somewhere on the site.

    “Established” and “settled” have the same basic meaning but they are used in slightly different contexts.

    “Established” might refer to establishing a situation where you have a regular income.

    “Being settled” might refer to the action of “having stopped moving around”.

    Now one would “settle in one place” (or settle down) and “establish oneself” (consolidate one’s position) in that place at about the same time, probably in that order, (first settling then establishing) so the two actions generally occur pretty close together and in our mind we run them together.

    I also feel that “establish” is a little more abstract than “settle” “Establish” requires an object too so it is transitive.


    “Fend” is an interesting verb. It is not very common except in this context. (He had to fend for himself from an early age.) We talk about people “having to fend for themselves” from an early age. It is almost a set idiom. I cannot actually think of any other uses of “fend” off the top of my head.

    Basically it means to have to look after oneself or “to have to take care of oneself”. “To be forced to rely on oneself” or “to be forced to rely on one’s own ingenuity”.

    There is a singer called Freddie Fender.I wonder if Freddie Fender had to fend for himself from an early age? Or was he raised in the lap of luxury?

  9. Donny says:

    Nice conversation!

    Mark, May I have your pics, I wonder what do you look like? hahahaha….

    Establish and Settled have same meaning?

    What is the meaning of FEND in single word exactly?

  10. Mark White says:

    I don’t know if it is an ongoing bitterness or not. Perhaps by now she has come to terms with it.

  11. Nestor says:

    Thanks, Mark.

    I knowed the meaning of “fend for”. So I made up a sample sentence with this phrase:
    “My father have had to fend for himself since he was 14.”
    This is true to my father. 🙂

  12. Mark White says:

    “Sibling” means “brother or sister”.

    “Fend for yourself” means “take care of yourself” or look after yourself” or “support yourself financially”.

    “He was established” means “He had become financially independent” or “He had set himself up”.

  13. Nestor says:

    She is still bitter about that until now. She cannot get over the fact that my father just left…

    So this fact had a negative impact on her, and she can’t get rid of this bitterness until now.

  14. Nestor says:

    So many strange place names. It is impossible for me to remember all of them.

    Here are some new and useful words and phrases for me.

    1. sibling, breadwinner.

    2. fend for: My father have had to fend for himself since he was 14.

    3. establish: He was already established then.
    Does this mean that he got steady income then?

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