“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” ~Laura Gilpin
MEMORY SLIVERS ( Morsels from my Past)
An unforgettable recollection when I was a baby toddler endlessly crying and screaming because I didn’t want to be separated from my mother as they carried me away to be taken home (I guess). Nobody and nothing could pacify me. I cried the rest of the day.
Mother woke us up (Father wasn’t around — we were his 2nd family) in the middle of the night because a house across was wildly burning. I was probably 5 or 6 years of age. We all rushed down without taking anything with us — not a single stuff. We watched the firemen arrive and do their job. In the morning by the window, I remember looking at the house… fully burned down.
Papa lost P20k he left in his car outside (our house didn’t have a garage then) when we were living in Caloocan City. Such a sizable amount at the time. I was not older than 10 years when it happened.
We had a cuckoo clock at home which sound off at 6pm and all of us, my mom and siblings, would kneel down in front of the altar to recite devotional prayers. Our 6-o-clock “oracion” lasted for almost a year.
My tonsils, which gave me difficult health issues since I was in my earliest teens, were finally removed while I was an employee at Philippine Daily Inquirer.
As children, my parents were fond of buying us ChocoVim, a delicious chocolate milk drink. I was fond of playing “tau-tauhan” (inexpensive tiny plastic soldiers) with my brother.
I’d suffered from insomnia even as a kid. Sleep came hard. My parents were quite strict at imposing siesta (afternoon nap). I faked it most of the time. Now you know why I lack in ideal height.
My very first celebrity crushes were Timothy Bottoms (after watching him in Operation Daybreak with my father and siblings when I was barely 11 years old) and a local actor named Rodel Naval ( he turned out to be gay in real life and died of HIV virus).
Family occasional weekly outing include dinner at Glori Supermart. I always ordered fruit salad which would subsequently give me acidic attack. But boy, the memorable fruit salad was a true favorite of mine.
In my first year of High School, the Siena College wide garden of the nuns was beautifully well-kept, and many times during breaktime when my classmates were busy chatting with each other, I would look out from my seat (which was beside the window) and admire all the loveliness.
I recited Walt Whitman’s “O Captain My Captain” for Speech class in 2nd year HS and got rave reviews for it.
In our teens, Father would toot his car horn many many yards away before reaching the gate and we’d all be in some level of panic — checking the surroundings, making sure nothing would cause him anger as soon as his feet touched the driveway. Even so, my heart would hop in glee. Father’s home!
Placido Mallillin was a chubby fair-skinned mestizo boy in gradeschool who was kind and treated me like a friend — he made me feel I belonged. He was feminate yet popular in class.
From grade 4 onwards, I’d receive merit at the end of the year: Best in Reading and Language. I fell in and out of the class Top 10 (hanging by a hair’s breadth at number 10) as I couldn’t focus well on other subjects that were scarcely interesting to me.
Classmates would extol on my acting performance in drama class. I even received Best Actress award once or twice. I believe I was a natural and I possessed some talent for the performing arts.
Both Papa and mommy liked dancing and he was fond of watching dance shows. They’d summon us kids to dance and it would entertain them highly. Also, Papa, in the middle of his busy day, would command my sister and I in our early teens to do chest expanding exercises on our own. Sister didn’t like any kind of workout; I did, so my bosom grew bigger than hers as a result.
Mother took pleasure having plants around the house. She occasionally did some gardening but mostly she bought potted greens and would water them.
Father loved fixing things and tinkering with cars. We had a small bodega in the garage (originally built to become a merchandise store) of our Abao house which smelled strongly of dust. Once a week (on Sundays) he would make us move his stuff, taking everything outside then putting them back in again at the end of the day. I remember being scared some insects, like spiders would creep out from somewhere. After that difficult task, Father would treat us to a delicious merienda — hot pandesal with palaman and Coke. There would be a twinge of sadness in me whenever it was time for him to leave in the afternoon.