Tulabut: American Pikinisan | SunStar

Tulabut: American Pikinisan

Time to read
4 minutes
Read so far

Tulabut: American Pikinisan

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LOTS of stories to tell.

Yes, there could be volumes upon volumes of books that could be written about the way our Cabalens lived their lives with Americans in and around Clark Air Base (CAB).

From so-called house girls, yard boys, DODs (security enforcers hired under US Department of Defense budget and program), caddie boys and girls, taxi drivers, and all the rest of Filipino workers during CAB heydays.

I have my fond memories too of the American pikinisan (leftovers).

As a son of a former DOD officer (who also served in the Philippine Scout), I can recall my own experience growing up near a base which portion of a perimeter fence was less than a kilometer away from our house.

Here are some of them:

CHOCOLATES. Ahhh in the 1970-1980s era, US-brand chocolates, unlike today, were nowhere to be found in groceries or supermarkets. They were part of the so-called PX (Post Exchange) goods that were intended to be consumed by American soldiers and dependents assigned in CAB.

To have a candy bar like Snicker back in the day would be like having the treat of a lifetime for a boy like me who just feasted on saresa (Aratiles in Tagalog or Jamaican cherry), kamatsilis (Madras Thorn), byabas (guava), kaymitu (star apple) for a snack.

The only time I get chocolates or candy bars for myself were on two occasions.

One, through the “vendo” (vending) machine or whenever my late father get to take home some refuse.

But how in the world like a teener like me then get near a vendo inside the base?

My father concurrently served as Barangay Captain in the 1970s and early 1980s. He also became a town councilor eventually. And as such, he was issued (upon application) a Commander’s Pass where he could drive to the base his own jeep together with his party.

And so, were “privileged” enough to go to the base using his pass. My late father – mindful of his reputation as a base worker and a barangay leader then – did not abuse that privilege. We would only go to the base mostly in trying to pick up or take my brother who flew in and out via MAC (Military Airlift Command) Terminal (now the DMIA).

And there are vendo machines at MAC Terminal that dispensed Baby Ruths, Snickers, Milky Ways, M and Ms -- all that we, and probably the rest of kids who are just used to eating tinaklub or panutsa (a round candy made of sugar cane extracts), salivated for.

My brother Gress was in the US Navy and he would always be on what we called then as Space A (space available or chance passenger aboard military aircraft) just to make a visit back to the country. That meant we had to keep coming back to the Terminal to see if he makes it on a plane to and from Clark during those visits.

He did not get to come home often from his assignments abroad. Maybe once in a year or two. So that meant, we rarely had to chance to “raid” those vendos of the chocolates. The vendos were not fully stacked all the time though. Besides, even if they were, we only had four 25 cents (quarter) coins at max.

Where did we get the quarters that we put in the machines? Well, some of them were from coin collections. At some point, we tricked the machine by using the old 25 centavo coins which were about the size of the counterpart US denomination.

The Commanders Pass was a privilege and a ticket for my Dad to go inside the base not as an employee but maybe part of the good neighborhood policy put in effect then by base officials.

+++++

The only other time that I get to directly get a hold and munch stateside chocolates then were on two occasions. First, when my Dad was given a pack of expired or near expiring goodies by their American friends who I assumed to have been their counterparts in securing Clark. Two, when he gets to stumble on chocolates in brown bags that were thrown in trash bins.

I guess expiring, expired or other refused chocolates were just let go at the gates.

There were some indirect ways to get chocolates too. During big events like the Fourth of July celebrations (which used to be a Philippine holiday too) where I recall there was this “open house” for Filipinos to enter Clark without necessary passes. Or during Happenings On the Green which is something like a state fair and mardi gras.

There were some opportunities too from neighbors, friends and relatives.

Some house girls (or cleaning ladies) and yard boys who were brave enough then managed to smuggle out a piece or two on occasions. Some of them who get caught bringing out a bar were made to suffer consequences.

A light punishment was to make them bite a piece from the bar (or apple) before being allowed to exit the gate. That was done on purpose so they could not sell it on black market (mostly then in Dau and Nepo marts). I could imagine the humiliation before other workers that lined up to exit.

The ultimate penalty for sneaking out a PX item, of course, was being fired and eventually getting blacklisted and barred from being able to work again inside the base.

For the rich, they could always buy a pack at Dau, together with other much sought after goods like Blue Bonnet (margarine), Dove or Dial (soap), English Leather (cologne), Brut (deodorant), Jovan (perfume) and even Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines.

+++++

AUF, HOME OF TOPNOTCHERS. For a lot of students and parents who are still deciding which course or college to go to, here is but one piece of info that may help.

The Angeles University Foundation continues to exemplify academic excellence as its graduates remain tops in various licensure examinations given by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) in various courses. Most recent of them is graduate Ace William G. Pasion who placed not second nor third BUT FIRST in the March 2015 Medical Technologists Licensure Examination. AUF also registered the highest pass rate among Medtech schools in Central Luzon having garnered 88.24% first timers pass rate and 75% overall pass rate versus the national pass rate of 73%.

In the same course in the September 2014 exams for MedTechs, Loeren P. Lopez took the 10th place overall.

In Physical Therapy board exams, Roman M. Dizon landed No. 1 while Maureen M. Garcia placed 5th in the February 2014 tests. This was followed by another two topnotch finish after a year as Jay Mar S. Bebita and Maria Katrina B. Mabansag placed 2nd and 7th places, respectively.

In the field of Nursing, Angela Loren Panlilio landed 9th place while Roxette Gil Pangilinan was 10th in the May 2014 board exams. In August last year, all of the 13 first timers in the licensure in Medicine passed the board exams. Congratulations.

Latest issues of SunStar Pampanga also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.


View Comments