What Happens When You Lose Everything In One Day?

You can lose everything in the blink of an eye. Here's how one girl lost then found the most important things in life.
by Data P. Tolentino   |  Jun 30, 2010
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Change is inevitable

A few years after Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, the country experienced political unrest and rallies were sprouting everywhere. The economy spiraled downward: investors were pulling out and businesses started to close. Life became more difficult for Filipinos, especially for those who were working hard to make ends meet.

Around this time, my dad was having run-ins with his “oppressive” bosses. A proud and outspoken person, he decided to quit, resuming freelance work as a management consultant for NGOs and government agencies. My parents slowly felt the crunch. I’d hear them talking about letting the maids go, and moving to another house—something “within budget.” Mama stopped grocery shopping at Rustan’s and bought less fancy food and goods. My brother and I learned how to stretch the last of our instant Kool Aid: using only one teaspoon each to make the juice, adding two teaspoons of sugar and filling up our glasses with ice.


We learned to be creative with food: there were sardine patties, sardines and egg; mackerel with calamansi, chicken noodle soup with lots of cabbage and diced potatoes. To this day, if the dinner table spread includes mackerel, hard boiled egg, and calamansi, the running joke is, “o, wala nanaman tayong pang-grocery?”

At the beginning of that school year, we wore our old shoes and uniforms. School supplies were only the barest of necessities. I learned that it was more efficient to buy two whole pads of intermediate paper and cut them up, than buy pads of different sizes. Our weekend trips to the park stopped. Instead we played board games at home, or visited our cousins and grandparents’ houses.

One Sunday afternoon, my brother and I came home from my lolo’s to find the house empty. I mean, literally. The furniture was gone; so was the refrigerator, the stove, the big Narra dining table, Mama’s favorite Chinese cabinet. I was in shock. My head was reeling and I was screaming at my yaya. She said some men came over that morning and took everything away while my parents watched.

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I was sick with a cold fear, thinking they took my parents away as well. This scene is one that will always stay with me; and the sick, cold feeling that overwhelmed me then returns every time my security is threatened or someone I trust leaves.

Mama and Papa arrived an hour later looking very tired. Papa announced we had to move to another house, perhaps somewhere nearer our schools to save on school bus fees, and somewhere near a hospital—Mama was pregnant then with another sibling (My second sibling, a sister, was living with my maternal grandparents). I went to bed that night in a daze, wondering how we got into this mess and how we were going to get out. It didn’t occur to me how hard life was going to be from then on.

It's not yet over... Read more on the next page.


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About the author
Data P. Tolentino
Contributing Writer
"Parang iniisip ng mga tao na mataray ako, suplado, but actually may nafi-feel kasi ako sa umaga na bigat."