PLAYFUL I always was when growing up. Mom and her friends would call me “bangad.” Every time in school, even in class I was playful, most especially after school. I had friends who had nice toys their parents gave them. I remember borrowing some of them and keeping it away from them by hiding it under the ground. After school and once forgotten I would dig it before going home. Sorry.

The same dirt grounds was where I also played “jolens,” just a few holes in the ground and that was it. Tournaments and champions came about just from it. I had my marbles always confiscated or broken after a match. The Chinese Checker marbles were the “special” ones when you had one.

Just above our planting grounds where we had vegetable plots was the Quezon Elementary School grounds, here the “real” games were played. I played softball and soccer. Not every Juan played basketball then. Happy too for some frisbee and “shatong” at times because of the ground space.

Over by our own grounds at SPED Center, we were more fortunate for it was cemented and the boys played “torumpo” and “sipa” a candy wrapper and a washer was all that was needed, a handful of rubber bands was also it at times. There was also comics in cards we called “tex,” that we flicked in the air. The girls played “garter,” but both boys and girls would play stealing bases and touch the body or soccer baseball. Boys versus Girls. We didn’t know the difference of a boy and a girl then. We were all the same. They beat us quite a few times too.

During my high school days I now played in the UB House grounds. Here was an area where we now had “sport.” This was as Juan would know it to be a possible fight among classmates. This was how things were settled then. It is now a parking area. Games played were different this time. We played “pusoy.” We would bet with our lunches, sometimes an egg or hotdog.

Every Juan was well grounded at that time. After a fight, argument or some disagreement things were always settled and lunch ensued. We ate our meals together in this very ground.

Later on the grounds were for playing basketball. We would play “piso-piso,” this must be the reason why I might have shot well in the perimeter, the three point specialist.

But back to my even younger years it was in this very grounds where we would as a Bautista family spend play time. There was open ground for us to play surrounded by Magnolia trees. The grounds were covered in grass for us to crawl and play under the morning sun, when we couldn’t walk still.

Today kids don’t get the chance to play. Even the Melvin Jones football grounds is not used for playing. The picnic grounds of John Hay was our playing ground. We used to play along the creeks and catch tadpoles and small fishes. Plywood or cardboard was used to slide along these grounds with help from candle or floor wax over pine needles on the ground.

There were plans for Sunshine Park to be a playground for teens. A skate and bike park was planned for it at one time. I wish it could be considered grounds again for play.

I would during my time as Mayor fix the only playground the city had, the Children’s Park. It is not as nice today. I hope that the city can once more fix for a place for a PLAYGROUND.