Memories... light the corners of my mind...

Are you on Facebook? I recently reconnected with my very first bestfriend in grade school. She’s a doctor now and is based in the UK. She has a baby boy. Cute. Getting in touch with her brought on a flood of memories.

The night before DocFit when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to indulge in a little trip down memory lane. Here are some of the things I remembered from certain times in my childhood. Kinda really makes the age obvious:

Pre-school/play school (what is daycare now) – went to Infant Jesus on Mahusay St., UP Village. It was just around the corner from our house but it seemed very far. One time, our helper forgot to pick me up and I was the only one left in school. I asked the security guard to walk me home. One of the things my parents taught me was to memorize their names, our address and our telephone number. My parents were so pleased that I handled that little ‘crisis’ well.

Nursery – went to UP Child Development Center (sounded so serious before and I remember relatives repeatedly asking me to recite the name of my school; just for kicks – kainis!). My bestfriend was Jay Fajardo. I don’t remember his face but I remember he was plump. I envied this kid named Vincent because he said he could play the piano, and he drew himself playing the piano, AND he drew well too. Overachiever! Haha!

We learned to distinguish different tastes here (salty, sweet, etc.). I remember my teacher told my mom that I had difficulty telling salty from sour. My mom conducted her own taste lesson at home and we found out that I was confused because in Ilonggo, maasin is salty, which I would confuse with the Tagalog maasim.

There was that day we learned to mix fruit salad.

I loved the song that went: ‘Kung ang ulan ay puro tsokolate, o kay sarap ng ulan!’ I still think of that song when it rains.

Our teachers were progressive and taught us Carpenters songs. 'Sing, sing a song... sing out loud, sing out strong...'

One recess time I was on the seesaw, an older kid named Kristine was bullying me to get off the seesaw. When I wouldn’t budge (you know how difficult it is to stake your claim on a playground ride!), she bit my hand. I hated her till high school. And I remain afraid of her memory up to now.

Kindergarten – I went to UPIS. I had a classmate named Michael who could dance like John Travolta.

My favorite teacher was Ms. Magno. She genuinely cared. She was very strict but would hug us and hear us out when we had sama ng loob with our parents. She died some years back. I met her daughter at a bazaar. I hugged her and thanked her and told her how her mom made such a huge impact on my life.

We all brought lunch from school, in drawstring lunch sacks we ourselves made. Imagine that. Mine was blue with white drawstring and my first attempts at embroidery. It looked like crap. Haha.

Sometimes we’d have dessert treats like ice cream. I would always be crestfallen when I’d end up with the ube ice cream cup. I loved mocha most, and strawberry second. I was ambivalent towards mango.

It was in Kindergarten when I had my first crush: BR. Hahaha! He was in the morning class and I saw him at a school program where he was dressed as a tin soldier from The Nutcracker. I don’t know why my first crush was a guy wearing thick red blush.

Grade 1 – The daughter of our class adviser, who belonged to another class, was a spoiled brat who loved to torment scaredy cats like me. One time after school, she locked me and my friend in one of the rooms. After maybe an hour (maybe just 15 minutes, you know how kids are...) of screaming and pleading, she eventually took pity on us and let us out. Looking back on this now, I don’t know how she could’ve locked us in when the doors most certainly lock from the inside of the room. Hmmm… The power of suggestion.

There was a girl in my class with beautiful, thick, straight and eternally neat hair. She always wore a crochet headband that came in many colors. Her mom made them. All the girls coveted her hair and headbands.

I was seatmates with BR, my crush in Kindergarten. I discovered I didn’t like him after all because he was a nonstop talker. He kept regaling me with stories of bowling with his family and how he dropped a bowling ball on his foot. He always had a runny nose too. Haha.

Grade 2 – BM introduced us to a game called Cops and Robbers. BM was my new crush (a crush that would last till college!). He was smaller than most of the boys but he was the smartest. And I found it cute that when he got angry at how a game was turning out, he’d turn all red and the veins on his forehead looked like they were going to pop.

There was that time when someone crapped in his/her pants and the teacher helped the poor kid wash up and made him/her wear a manila paper wrapped around like a skirt.

Grade 3 – BM taught us the game Arrow Chase (two teams; team one runs ahead of team two, making arrow marks along the way; the goal is for team two to find team one by following the arrows) and Roots and Rocks (there was a huge Acacia tree in the school yard and in a modified tag game, one team gets to step only on the roots and the other team on the rocks; UPIS had very few playground facilities and we had to be creative).

We would eat our lunch on the benches outside school. That area was lined by bamboo and the sound of the rustling leaves was very soothing. BM taught us to whistle for the wind.

BM’s parents separated. It was the first time any of us became aware of the word and state of hiwalay.

Grade 4 – Bagets was all the rave then and us girls would sit for hours on the seesaw (again!) singing “Growing Up” or discussing who was handsomer, Aga or Raymond.

At home, I would sit in our living room imagining I was waiting for Aga to pick me up for a date. Hahaha!

BM loved inventing songs. He changed the lyrics of 12 Days of Christmas and made it a mean song with lines like 'On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... a rotten banana in the trash can'.

A and M won against the older kids in a dance contest. They danced their hearts out to Telephone!

Grade 5 – I had a barkada of five girls. One of the girls was a born comedian. We couldn’t stop laughing when we were together. One time, on the Ikot jeep, she was telling a joke (bumabangka) and you could tell that the man sitting across her was having difficulty keeping a straight face. It came to a point where he couldn’t hold it in and he laughed out loud. We all fell quiet and looked at him. Embarrassed, he told the driver to stop and got off. Poor guy.

We had a dance number choreographed by Y. It was a 'modern dance' to Tears For Fears' Pale Shelter.

Grade Six -- The boys were becoming meanies. They were obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons and talking about boobs. They had code names for the girls in our batch who were, er, developed, and they found ways para manilip (I tried saying that in English but the playfulness gets lost in translation).

I rarely hung out with BM, we had drifted apart. I was now part of an all-girls barkada with a name and all. We often held bull sessions at the back of the school. While the boys were discovering new worlds in D&D and Choose Your Own Adventure, the girls were learning how to complicate their lives with non-issues and discovering the therapeutic benefits of gab fests. Hehe.

That’s as far as I got. Then I fell asleep. :)

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