Excerpt from The Early Years: Soledad
Soledad is the youngest of the 3 children of Eugenio and Rosario Castillo, the couple who lived in a barrio in Caloocan City, called Sta. Quiteria.
As a carefree child, Soledad used to gather kuhol (snails), palaka (frog) and labong (bamboo shoots) for her family's dinner. Growing up, her parents were so contented with their lives that they never thought of owning a real property. This was because they lived in such a way that they can just move their house from one place to another. As a young girl, she would get furious that she would urinate on top of the people who were carrying their house in a Bayanihan style, usually relatives and townsfolks.
But she was a happy child, however, this happiness ended when they needed to move permanently from Caloocan City to Quezon City because their old place was being developed into a subdivision.
Their house was dismantled and reconstructed but they ended up owning only half of their original home. The family of her older sister's husband occupied the other half.
That was when she started hating the world. She hated the new place. She missed their old house, their old neighborhood and her old friends. In 6th grade, she was also forced to transfer to a new school. At this young age, she felt helpless. So she promised to herself that one day, she will leave this place and will create a nice home for her and her future family to live in.
Her father worked as a family driver for a childless American couple. His employer's wife, Dabby, offered to finance Sol's education, provided that she will maintain high grades.
When she finished high school, Dabby helped her through the first two years in college until she was ready to support herself. In her third year, she told Dabby that she got herself a part-time job at a small accounting firm so she can pay for her last two years in college. Dabby was so proud of her foster child. She stopped the financial aid but the emotional support continued to pour in.
It was a difficult life and her anger towards the world helped her to stick to the right path. She worked as a secretary at the accounting firm during the day, attended night classes, finished her homework in buses and jeepneys and helped her parents in whatever way she can.