Chapter 33: We Move to Enrile

After one year, one month, and one day in Piat, we moved to Enrile, where we would live for the next 35 years.

Surely God had a sense of humor. When we were in the Philippines the first time, we went to visit the missionaries in Aparri in May of 1966. We took the plane and had an hour layover at the Tuguegarao airport. It was hot, dry, and desolate. Furthermore, we were feeling a little uncomfortable from a rough flight. We agreed between ourselves at the time that, if there was any place in the world we had ever been that we didn’t want to live, it was Tuguegarao. Now, exactly ten years later, we were living within ten miles in a direct line from the Tuguegarao airport, and loving it. We had learned, among other things, not to say, “I’d never want to do that,” because that’s probably just what He’d end up leading us to do.

The population of the town of Enrile, which is more like a county in the US, in 1976, was about 21,000. It had an area of about 70 square miles. The town proper, also called the Centro, which is like a county seat, had about 7,000 people and was about one-half square mile in area. There were three elementary schools and a parochial high school, besides a public vocational high school a couple of miles west of town on a hill. The main building was the municipal/town hall, where the government offices were located. Other offices in this or adjacent buildings included police, treasurer, post office, rural health unit, etc. An electric cooperative at the edge of Enrile started generating electricity about a week before Christmas in 1976, and Enrile began having electricity.

Although Enrile was much larger than Piat, it had much less business. Piat had eight restaurants; Enrile had one. Piat had a fair sized general store; Enrile did not. Piat had three tailor shops; Enrile had none. Piat had a general market day twice a week; Enrile had none. Both towns had a number of small stores, 5’ to 10’ on each side, where people could buy the ‘essentials’ like canned milk, canned fish, margarine, sugar, and cigarettes. The reason for the difference was that Piat is about 25 miles from Tuguegarao so must have its own separate services. Enrile is about 8 miles from Tuguegarao, and people would rather go there to shop. Most of the people were farmers, and most of the gainfully employed persons worked in Tuguegarao.

House hunting? Here is how it happened. When we were looking for a place to live in Enrile, we learned from our neighbor across the street in Piat that his aunt lived in Enrile. He thought there might be room in their house if we would like to live there. On our next trip to Enrile, we stopped by his aunt’s house to meet her, and to check out the situation. Her name was Longhina Abbariao Luna, and her nephew, Felipe Abbariao, Jr, lived with her. Her husband, Tomas Luna, had died several years before. The house now belonged to Tomas’ daughter, Mrs. Corazon Luna Hall, by a former marriage, who lived in the States in Northridge, California. We talked to Mrs. Luna about us staying there, and it was fine with her and Felipe as long as it was okay with Mrs. Hall. We wrote to Corazon Hall to determine if it was okay, and to set the details of rent if it was. We expected to be there for a short to medium time, anticipating we would soon be building our own house in which to live. With a little help from our friends and some more help from above, we were soon accepted as tenants and immediately moved our stuff from Piat to our new home in Enrile.

We called Longhina ‘Tia,’ which is Itawes (and Spanish) for ‘Aunt.’ Tia was living downstairs while Felipe slept upstairs, but when we moved there, we took over the upstairs, so Felipe moved downstairs. There were two bedrooms downstairs, so that worked out nicely. The house had two stories, and while waiting for property to become available and a house to be built, we had it wired and painted inside.

To truly paint the picture of life there, I really need to tell you about the three buildings outside the house: the dirty kitchen, the wash room, and the comfort room. Tia and Felipe had a kitchen outside their back door which was called a “dirty kitchen.” It was called that because they burned wood in their “native stove,” and the wood emitted smoke, turning the ceiling black. The floor of this kitchen was dirt and the building was a wooden structure about 8’ x 12.’ Inside was a long wooden table plus the native stove. The stove was baked clay, about 1 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet concave inside, and was placed on a separate wooden table so it was just the right height to do the cooking. One end of it had an elevated place where they could put a pan on top and cook whatever they wanted to cook. Under the elevated part, the wood was placed and burned to cook the food. When the wood had burned, it was shoved into the front part of the stove, and pots of already cooked food were set by it to keep them warm until the meal was ready. A window next to the table had a shelf extended outside from it on which they stored pots, pans, dishes and things needed for cooking. It had a wooden grating around it to keep animals out.

In the backyard was also the washroom. It was an enclosure in which a person could take a bath, or he could do his washing there. It was about 4’ x 4.’ The floor was largely of small rocks so the water used could go down into the ground and not form a mud puddle in the place. The enclosure was very old, being made of wooden posts from which were suspended old pieces of sheet metal. No water was piped into this enclosure, so one had to fill a bucket with water from the nearby faucet on the town water system where water came each morning. In the morning, each family got what water they would need for the day, putting it into large containers so they would have water for the whole day. If that water ran out, there was a pump well next door to which we could go to pump water for our needs.

If I wanted to take a bath, I went into this enclosure, shut the door, which was a piece of cloth that stretched across the opening. I made sure there was water there, ready for my bath. As an American, I disrobed completely, though this was very unpleasant to do since there were little holes in the walls of the enclosure, and we never knew when someone would walk by and peek in. Also, there was no roof to the enclosure, so if a plane or helicopter went by overhead, I had the feeling that their eyes were watching me! Of course, that didn’t happen often. Anyway, once I got over my fear, I proceeded to use a pitcher to get water from the bucket and pour it over myself, apply my soap, and then rinse it off afterwards.

Since we had a household helper who washed our clothes, she did the washing in this enclosure. She would get a large pan and pour what water she needed into it to do the washing of the clothes, and squat down beside it to wash. I don’t know how many times she rinsed them, but eventually, she rinsed them clear of the soap and took them on her head or over her arms to the clothes line to hang them up.

The third enclosure was what we called ‘the comfort room’ or restroom. It was smaller than the place where we took our bath. It was about 3’ x 4.’ The enclosure was made of wood—termite ridden—and the walls were mostly worn away at the bottom and provided easy entrance to rats and other small creatures. Every so often I saw an 8” lizard slither out of the toilet bowl, which was made of reddish brown cement! You never knew what might be hiding in the water there. The door was an old drum lid—and did not allow much privacy, so Chuck put on a piece of plywood instead. The comfort room had only a water seal toilet and a container for flushing the toilet. The toilet was made of clay that had a bowl that looked like the bowl of the toilets we have in the States. The bowl part went down into the ground and was actually over a hole in the ground that you couldn’t see. It had a wide ledge around it to place your feet, and when you used it, you squatted over it with your feet on the ledge, and urinated or whatever, into the bowl of the toilet underneath. This was flushed with water from the container for flushing, and all went into the hole underneath. In our thinking, it was much better than the outhouses we knew in the States which were open to all kinds of bugs and critters and always smelled terrible. A water seal toilet has no smell attached.

The comfort room was very old, and the wood was partly eaten away by termites. At least one time, though, it had stinging red ants living in it. One day, after about a month, as I was in the comfort room, the red ants got to my feet and started biting ferociously. I had on my sandals, so there was no protection for my feet, but the biting ants wouldn’t let up, so I hollered at the top of my lungs to get Chuck to come and help me. Instead of Chuck, the household helper came out with paper and matches. When I was okay to move out of the enclosure, I ran back into the house. Nora burned some of the ants with flaming newspaper, and finally sprayed them with Raid, which finished the job. I was afraid she might also burn the comfort room, but she didn’t, so I was glad for that. However, that was the last time I ever used that restroom. If I had to go to the comfort room, I used a chamber pot called an ‘arinola,’ and used it in the house so I was not bothered by the ants again. A few days later, I went down, not in such a hurry this time, and saw the swarming ants on three sides around the toilet.

Needless to say, I ran back quickly and got the Raid. After that, Chuck was under orders to have an inside toilet put in both downstairs for Tia and Felipe and one upstairs for us to use. He had a native style toilet put in downstairs and a more US type toilet put in upstairs. We also put in a shower and a small basin on the wall downstairs, and the shower upstairs in the same room as the toilet. Though upstairs, we had it separated by walls in order to get more privacy, and we put in a larger size basin for washing our hands.

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