TIME has truly changed and I realized that nothing beats the old ways just like our childhood games and fun activities. Gone were the days when kids like me in the late 60s and early 70s would wander around and scan the surroundings in search of spiders for our favorite game of playing with the crawlers and watching them fight on a piece of stick.
We look for the Antutukma, a robust long legged spider which is like the Bruce Lee among the crawlers and we laugh at the girls whenever they show to us the house spiders because these obese thingy with tiny limbs only get to be bitten fast and webbed all over for supper by the Antutukma.
Back then, many young kids in Baguio learned how to make money of their own. I had classmates who sold newspapers, carried bags at the public market for a tip and there were those who picked sayote fruits from its vines along the creeks and sold it at the market for few cents a kilo. We also made money out of selling scrap metals, discarded carton boards and other items like beer and soft drink bottles.
Back in the days, my father was assigned by the city health department as the caretaker of the Baguio Cemetery and he was able to get a concession with mausoleum owners which led me and one of my siblings to have extra money by cutting the lawn grass and cleaning the tombs regularly every weekend for years.
When I was about eight to ten in the early 70s, I also shined shoes on weekends. I pride myself by telling friends that I made my shoe shine box that is different from the others as it has a frontal opening which is more convenient compared to the others with a side compartment. I also made my wooden stool and I learned carpentry at a young age using discarded wood and recycled nails. We shined our shoes on weekends so that it will be ready for the school week and there were times that my father brings out coins enough for a polishing wax.
Over the weekend, as I was cleaning my brushing my boots that I’ll be using for the Independence Day, memories brought me back to days gone as I was applying my old shining techniques that perhaps children of today never had the chance to experience or at least try, shining their own shoes.
Here is my DIY (do-it-yourself) in case some millennial would want to learn from our techniques as Baguio shoe shine boy: You should have items strictly for black and brown shoes. Designate a shoe brush for black and brown. First brush the shoes thoroughly to remove dirt. You can do it with a damp cloth and let it try on normal room temperature but do not dry a damp shoe under the sun. A piece of cloth from a worn-out cotton T-shirt is good in place of a chamois which is expensive and an animal hair shoe brush is better than the synthetic one.
Although liquid or paste shoe roll-on polishing compounds are commercially available, one can get a "Jobos" or water soluble dye from grocery stores and apply to the surface of the shoes using an old toothbrush. After the dye has dried, apply what we call "eskuba" by buffing the shoes with the clean old cotton cloth on a to-and-fro motion until it becomes shiny.
Apply a shoe wax of the same color as that of the shoes and brush it until the desired result is achieved. You can repeat the buffing and brushing but never apply any solvent like petrol or other oils as this may eventually cause the leather surface to wart and even crack.
Having attended seminars on etiquette and protocol, I remember what a resource speaker said that a person is one step ahead of the others if he or she has well-shined shoes.
Back then, we did not have computers, laptops and more so with iPads. For our studies and homework, we go to the city library and go over the pages of encyclopedias if we cannot get answers from our dictionaries. We go to the magazine and comics hiring stands for our favorite DC and Marvel super heroes. What is interesting to many of us Baguio boys during our childhood days is that we earned our pocket money to spend for our leisure like watching movies and even biking at the Burnham Park.
There were boys who cut grass for the horses at Wright Park and others serve as guide to horse riding tourists. While slingshots are no longer seen today, it was a mark of our boyhood which gave us a form of self-confidence when going about the forest. We made our slingshots out of a guava branches, scrap leather and rubber strips from car tire interior tubing. We have felled at least a bird or two with our kiddy weapons only to feel sorry about it years later as we became more environmentally friendly.
Sending pieces of pebbles into the air was a fun thing to do but then when it lands into a roof or breaks a window glass, a scary thing can happen if a neighbor shouts and runs after you. Being admonished in school for teasing the girls is also quite an experience and one cannot forget the name of the teacher who slapped his palms with a ruler or a stick.
With today’s digital age and millennial generation, I noticed that much of today’s youngsters are becoming too dependent on their gadgets as if their so-called smart phones are integral part of their generation. From checking the weather, ordering food, acquiring information and looking for a person to date, more and more of today’s generation are turning to their small devices for results.
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on June 20, 2017.
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