Catajan: Our house

THERE is a distinct smell of rain in the mountains, fresh and earthy, different from the smell of city pavements as it is like water hitting a hot frying pan.

As residents bring out the thick jackets, rain gear, and the patience to endure weeks on weeks without sunshine, the daily downpour will force one to face the temptation to stay in bed or brave the highland weather.

Whenever Baguio originals rue the rain, it is reminded that the mountains need the water to supply our homes and the enterprising bring out the barrels for storage, like the early days here when not all had 24/7 water supply.

As a child, I remember my grandmother hiring Igorot women to deliver water to our home which was walking distance from the city market, where the supply was taken, from a community well I was told.

Delivery was set P5 per pail, which was carried atop their heads in a balancing act I was mesmerized with, and as I grew older, the sight of a line of muscled women carrying pails to our home never left me.

Even as I watch the graceful swaying of cultural groups performing the Banga dance, the memory of middle-aged Igorots delivering water to our house would still nag and be the best.

There is a drama in a downpour only lethargic writers would know, the incessant tap-tapping on the roof offers a rhythm and a temporary solace only the short deluge can give.

Our old wooden home was one of the first houses in the city after the Japanese war, it was a hotel before and was later subdivided to siblings who lived there with their families.

It later became the first ice plant in the city and secret passageways from the third floor to the basement exist to this day.

Some say our house was haunted, it probably is, as it is old and decaying. It survived the earthquake and was one of the structures which swayed with the tremors as other buildings collapsed, making us eternally thankful to the architects of the olden days who constructed our house, making us all safe.

I grew up there with my cousin, Janelle, who was my only friend when I started school and could be one of the few friends who will stick by me till the end, I remember we played at the streets till it was time to go home in the afternoons of summer.

We had a small group which consisted of another cousin, Aaron, my baby brother, Jeff and our neighbor, Oliver, who lived a few houses down, our playground was the fields the university fronting our house, its riprapped walls we would scale before wall climbing was a thing, without protective gear or harnesses.

We all survived, even if I grew up to become a klutz, I would forever brag about scaling the walls of SLU as a child.

Janelle is now a housewife, Aaron has tried his luck overseas, baby brother Jeff is at the concrete jungle and Oliver has become an artist.

We all grew up and moved out of the house, some by choice and some by force, but the childhood we shared will remain.

It is amazing what you think about when it rains.

Until the next downpour.


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