1227 Rosaritos in the 60s-A A +A
By Mina Paras
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
TO READERS for whom the column title rings a bell, it means that they either lived, or were frequent visitors of, the said address, a three-floor apartment in a side road just off Dapitan, right at the back of the University of Santo Tomas. It was a dorm run by our landlady, Ma Lilay, who passed away less than two weeks ago. Ma Lilay (Leonila Pamintuan), the mother of Mayor EdPam, was the most beautiful woman in her time whose good looks were inherited by her sons (especially Mario) and daughters (especially Bess). The rest of the seven children are a beautiful/handsome blend of Ma Lilay and the equally handsome Tatang Bert, who was a long-serving vice mayor of Angeles, back when it wasn’t yet a city.
As a 15 ½ young girl entering freshman year in 1966, my parents naturally chose a dormitory whose owners they trusted, and none more fitted the bill than Ma Lilay and Tatang Bert, who were friends of my parents. I was also to enter UST, after I had convinced my parents. They initially wanted me to enter St. Scholastica, a sister school of my high school alma mater Holy Family Academy, but I told them I was ‘tired’ of being under nuns. (Not per se, as I loved some nuns in my high school days.) I wanted to go to UP, but Father said it was overrun with Communists. He wasn’t far off, because UP then was a breeding ground of leftists. Notably, Nur Misuari, who had just declared himself the head of a self-proclaimed Bangsa Moro republic, was UP-bred.
And so it was to UST I went, as a compromise. Little did I know that the Dominican priests were even more strict than the Benedictine nuns! As everyone who went to UST then knows, there were separate stairs for the girls and the boys, and even separate areas in the university canteen. I was initially awed by the vastness of UST, being a ‘promdi’ (i.e. from the province). But I felt right at home because at 1227 Rosaritos I was with friends, mostly from Angeles. I think I was the only one from Mabalacat. The second floor of the apartment was for the lady boarders: Shirley Pineda, Celine Cortes, Tess Tanpoco, Lyn Santos (now Dizon), Tita and Angel Santos (now Ayson), Del, elder sister of Ed, Chit Cortes elder sister of Celine, and Baby Cortes, younger sister of former basketball pro Gil Cortes.
On the third floor were the boys: Ed, Mario, Boy Cortes, somebody who we named Docsi (I forgot his name), Horsing my second cousin for a while, plus others I can’t recall. Horsing would later go underground, caught and incarcerated for a long time in Crame (or was it Olivas?). After his mother spent a fortune trying to get her son out, he was finally let free. Not a week passed before Horsing was shot to death, and no one knows who did it. The day Horsing was shot to his death, his only brother Bong went underground and went on to become the right hand man of Commander Dante (NPA), until he came out.
A small room on the ground floor housed Chito Ilagan, whose elegant mother persuaded Ma Lilay to let him in. Chito is now a big businessman in their home province of Laguna, and owns the Honda and Jollibee franchises among other businesses.
Frequent visitors to the house were Boking, who was there so often that Ma Lilay told him to just board there. You see, he was eating there all the time. Everybody who lived there knew that he ordered our all-around maid Cristy the moment he sat down before the dining table. He would say, “Cristy, cape!” Ed tells this oft-repeated tale every chance he gets. Boking was the only suitor who was allowed to visit and stay after visiting hours, owing to his friendship with Ed. Boking also made ‘history’ in the apartment. He hired a couple of guitar-playing musicians to sing ‘harana’ in the intsik-hours of noontime! For that his lady love rained down a flurry of ‘tsinelas’ on him.
But that was nothing compared to the melee that involved barkadas vs barkadas, namely Boking’s and Reggie’s (Romero, or RII, a frequent visitor) which began inside our dorm’s small sala and taken outside. People who were part of the ruckus still remember the event.
Another visitor then was Blue Boy. One V-day, Blue Boy gave (me) about two dozen long-stemmed American roses. They could not fit in the dorm’s ref. And since it was V-day, the boys gleefully helped themselves to the roses (3 each) to give to their lady loves. Ed included.
Another frequent visitor (or was he a boarder?) was Gerry Rivera, a close friend of Ed’s who would later become a commander in the NPA, and who was (is?) on the order of battle of the military. So much for my parents wanting me to stay in a place free from Communists!
In spite of the danger of those times (there were frequent skirmishes on that street, with gunshots which we UZIs watched from the safety of the third floor, those were the halcyon days.
We once had a reunion, and maybe it’s about time we had another one. Ed?
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 11, 2013.