Friday, June 21, 2019

Briones: Anything but the landslide in Sindulan

IT was the first time in so many years that I forgot about the declaration of martial law by then president Ferdinand Marcos way back on Sept. 21, 1972.

At least here in Cebu, all eyes were on the tragedy that struck the tiny sitio of Sindulan in Barangay Tina-an, City of Naga where a deadly landslide early Thursday morning buried at least 30 houses, killing more than 30 persons.

So I guess I can forgive myself for not remembering what the late dictator did to the country after he launched his so-called Bagong Lipunan, or New Society.

I was lucky to be too young to realize what was really going on during that time.

When I entered Grade 1 in 1976 here in Cebu, after our family moved from Davao, the “worst” of martial law was over and people had gone back to their day-to-day lives.

Or so I thought.

I caught myself reminiscing about the good old days with a work colleague who is the same age as me. I won’t say her name because that would be ungentlemanly. For all I know, she has been telling people she’s still 36.

I did. Up until, oh, I don’t know, last year.

Anyway, why is it that things are always much simpler when looking back? Apparently, nostalgia does that to almost everyone. That, or it’s human nature to edit experiences, to tuck the bad ones away in a dark corner and highlight the good.

My colleague and I were talking about how brownouts were common in those days. And how, as kids, we took advantage of the power interruptions.

I have fond memories of gathering in our candlelit living room around my mother as she told us stories about Speedy Gonzalez. How she would mimic his runs with her fingers that always ended up tickling me and my two siblings.

There were also nights when she switched to the macabre. My mother is fond of the paranormal so we had our share of horror tales that gave us goosebumps.

If the moon was out, neighborhood kids gathered on the street to play buwan-buwan.

Back then, we lived in an apartment on Maria Gochan St. At the back was the Cañete compound of the Doce Pares fame.

For the almost five years we lived there, I tagged along with Michael who is older. I looked up to him like a big brother.

He was and, I think, continues to be athletic while, in those days, I had a symbiotic relationship with the kitchen.

If he could reach the top of the guava tree next to his grandmother’s house, I was lucky to get to the first rung of branches where I hung on for dear life while my playmates jumped around like monkeys.

They had a swing hanging from an ancient mango tree and his cousin, I forget her name, loved to push me so high until I screamed for her to stop.

Okay, so I wasn’t always the outgoing, fun-loving person that I am right now. Really.

Many things held me back since I was always worried about what others thought about me.

Of course, that changed when I realized in high school that I could reinvent myself every time I moved to a different school. And by the way, I went to six different high schools in four different countries.

So if you’re wondering why I’m rambling about my past, it’s because I don’t want to talk about the disaster that befell the residents of Sitio Sindulan. Some things are better left unsaid.


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