Crispin Sañosa: A ganta of rice & a pocketful of dreams

Category: ALBAY
Published Date Written by J.Sañosa

Crispin Villez Sañosa's 1958 memoirs starts off with a brief introduction of his family. In it he writes, "Son of Fabiano Sañosa and Isabel Villez of Polangui, Albay, I was born on January 5, 1893 in Polangui, the third child in the family. We were seven in all (four boys and three girls): Severo, our eldest, died of hydrophobia in 1910; Irenea, the second child, married to Flaviano Lauraya with seven children; Esteban, the fourth child and a municipal teacher, married to Remedios Gregorio with nine children; Cecilio, the fifth child and clerk in the municipal treasury of Polangui married to Salud Laudes with seven children; Felicisima, the sixth child, married to Marcial Raule with ten children and Eulogia, the youngest, who is widowed with one child.

Both my father and mother died in Polangui on June 28, 1933 and June 21, 1938, respectively. Records of their births were not available, but as far as I could remember, both lived beyond sixty years." (*see note below).

Crispin was a self-made man who rose from humble beginnings through his own talents and efforts. He overcame many obstacles in life and never let being less privileged stop him from getting an education and attaining his dreams. He was an intelligent, determined and ambitious man.

Crispin's Baptismal Certificate (in Spanish)
Duplicate copy issued on January 23,1938
Godfather: Leopoldo Samonte

The educational system in the Philippines experienced a transformation during the turn of the century when American teachers called Thomasites arrived in the Philippines to help establish secularized public schools. They used English as a medium of instruction; and through it, instilled American values and ideals in the hearts and minds of their young native students. These pioneering American teachers made education more accessible in the countryside and established secondary schools which provided courses in the arts, agriculture, commerce and trade. Crispin was eager to learn as a child and the Thomasites opened his eyes to a whole new world, introducing him to America and the English language.

In his memoirs, Crispin provides a glimpse of his life in rural Polangui at the turn of the century.  He had initially learned the rudiments of education from privately-run local schools.  In 1903, at ten years old, his parents enrolled him in a public school where he learned English.  After graduating in 1906, he almost didn't continue on to what was called the intermediate school because his parents could not afford to send him to Ligao, which was four miles away from Polangui. Fortunately, they changed their minds after much thought and deliberation as Crispin recalled in his memoirs.

The commute from Polangui to Ligao was challenging for a boy of thirteen. There was no public transportation available at that time and the only way he could get there was on foot. In his memoirs, Crispin writes, "Every Monday morning, I went to Ligao bringing with me a ganta of rice and one peso for my expenses for the week. These were the weekly allotments that my parents gave me."(A ganta is five pints or ten cups.). The daily commute on foot to school and back eventually took a toll that he had to find creative ways to save time and money. He found lodging as a boarder with a family in Ligao and negotiated to waive the rent in exchange for helping around the house. This allowed him to stay in Ligao to study on weekdays and return home every Friday after classes.

Bureau of Audits Personnel, Naga Office 
Crispin (27 yrs) with colleagues
Naga City, Camarines Sur (July, 1920)
Standing L-R: Navarrette, Saison, Olives
Seated L-R: Royals, Sañosa, Canoy

After graduating from the American-run Ligao school in 1909, Crispin expressed his desire to his parents to continue on to the provincial high school. This time, his parents could not agree to it. They had no means financially plus they felt that he'd be too far away from home as the capital was twenty-three miles from Polangui.

Being a dutiful son, Crispin acquiesced. The very disappointed sixteen year old found himself working in the mountains stripping abacá with his eldest brother Severo in order to help supplement the family income.

Fate intervened in 1911, when the principal teacher of Polangui approached and asked him if he'd be interested in becoming a primary school teacher. New primary schools were being set up in neighboring barrios and there was a need for filipino teachers.  The eighteen year old gladly accepted. He was sent to the Teaching Institute in Daraga and soon after assigned to teach first and second grades at two barrio schools.

In his second year, while assigned to the barrio of Magpanambo, which he didn't like as it was quite far from Polangui, he began to look for other opportunities. He writes in his memoirs,"This assignment did not satisfy me because Magpanambo was far, and in going there, I had to rent a horse as the roads were always muddy. I returned to the población (Polangui), on Saturdays and came back to the barrio (Magpanambo) the following day on Sunday. Although I disliked the assignment, I had to hold on to this job with thoughts of leaving it as soon as I found a better one. In the meantime, I prepared for the civil service examination."

In May 1913, at age twenty, he received a letter at his family's home at 37 Pascual in Polangui that he passed the exam.

Twenty-five years later and at the age of forty-five, Crispin went back to school to fulfill a lifelong dream. In 1938, he successfully graduated from secondary school thanks to the educational authorities, who approved his petition to waive the first three years and complete the fourth year of secondary school at the Far Eastern University in Manila on account of his years of service in government and the civil service exams he had taken and successfully passed. After graduation, he went on to enroll in Lacson College in Intramuros, the Walled City, in order to pursue a college degree in Commerce. He finally made it to college. Unfortunately, he was only able to complete two years as his education was again interrupted; this time by the Second World War.

Thoughts of a grandson

Last picture of Lolo Crispin
88 yrs, November 15, 1981

Life threw my grandfather a lot of curve balls and he rolled with the punches. He neither let being less priveleged nor his age deter him from achieving his goals. Here's a man who struggled to get an education, always sought to improve his station in life; and through sheer determination, succeeded.

If only fate had allowed him to finish his education with no interruptions, I have no doubt that he would have surpassed what he had achieved in his lifetime. Still, my grandfather did very well in life. From being a simple rural school teacher, he catapulted himself to becoming Assistant Chief, Examiner, Assistant Auditor and finally Auditor in several government agencies with teams of accountants working under him.

Moreover, he successfully provided for a family of nine, and never failed to support his parents and lend a helping hand to any relative in need especially those that required financial assistance with their schooling.

I could not help but smile upon reading the letter,dated May 10, 1938, that the Director of Private Education, Lino Castillejo, wrote to my grandfather when he approved his petition to complete secondary school. In it he writes,"We could not believe that your service and your civil service qualification were sufficient to offset your actual low educational attainment." Although a blunt remark, it showed how the educational authorities were amazed at what he had achieved.

Lolo Crispin was indeed amazing!

Source: Memoirs, Crispin V. Sañosa, June 5, 1958

* Crispin had incorrectly written the number of children that Irenea, Esteban and Felicisima had. Esteban had seven children by his first wife Remedios Gregorio, and four more by his second wife, Salvacion Barrameda.

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