Monday, September 27, 2021

Tibaldo: Reminiscing Baguio's days gone by

Consumers atbp.

THERE is this shared post in social media that narrates what it was like to grow up in the city of Baguio back in the days. It tells of a simple life back in the 60s to the early 80s when there were no digital gadgets, computer games, big malls and online shopping.

In like manner, I'd like to write my own old Baguio story based on how I grew up as a child in the early sixties to my adolescent years during the Martial Law years.

I grew up in Baguio. Regardless of the weather, our dinner time was at 6 p.m. and bed time can even be earlier than 8 p.m. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner were mostly home-cooked and eating out rarely happened unless we are celebrating a graduation or a birthday.

There was no such thing as fast food dining and soft drinks came in factory bottles. We normally buy ice cream from the sorbetero but we most likely spend our 10 centavos with an ice candy and 20 centavos for a buko-popsicle. I attended a scouting jamboree, came home with a medal and the next thing was a parent's reward of a Yeye Vonnel shirt and a new pair of shoes.

We took our school clothes off as soon as we reached home, put on our "home" clothes and slippers they call today as flip-flops. I attended a Catholic school for my Kindergarten but eventually transferred to public schools the moment our family expanded as I was the eldest of seven siblings. I walked to school during my elementary and high school and the moment we got home, we did our clean-up chores, completed our homework before dinner. We also learned to earn money at an early age, I was a shoeshine boy by the time I was in Grade 4 to Grade 6 and I even made my shoeshine box and stool out of discarded wood from construction sites.

Most of us did not have television sets and I remember watching "Batman" starring Adam West and episodes of Vic Morrow's "Combat" from our neighbor's window.

Our childhood games varied from Hide & Seek, marbles, and Shatong and while the girls play jackstones, we do tumbling at grasslands and flaunt our summersault skills. Staying shut in the house was like a punishment for the faint-hearted and the only thing we knew about "boredom" was when nothing was there to explore and tinker with in the neighbourhood.

We played music via phonograph assembled by a cousin taking up electronics, listened to radio for news during typhoons and to DZWT's "Sarsarita ni Uncle Pete" as radio was our only source of mass media in those days when cable TV, Wi-Ffi, YouTube or Netflix was not yet available.

We drank chlorinated water straight from the faucet and bottled water was a luxury that only became common after the 1990 killer earthquake. We refer to Manila and other provinces other than Baguio and Cordillera provinces as lowlands and while at my mother's ancestral farm, we fetched drinking and cooking water from the spring through a bamboo pole poked from a creek's embankment. I did not only learn how to cook "dinengdeng," "paksiw" and "adobo" from my mother but she also taught us how to make "escabeche" and "Arros Valenciana."

We did not only go to mass every Sunday, we also stopped and prayed at the church bell's tolling of the Angelus. It was a common understanding that each of us should be home before dark and the sunset was our alarm. Friend's houses were extensions to our home and often, our younger sibling knows where to look for us when we are needed.

We respected the police, firemen, ambulance workers, teachers, doctors and nurses and we address them as sirs, ma'ams and so with elders whom we call either uncles or aunties. We never answered back. This was a rule especially to elders or anyone older than us.

Those were the good days. Young kids today may look at it as "oldskul," "jurassic" or "Jumanji" but that is what we refer to as upbringing at a time when people were less mechanized and more humanized. A great number of kids today will never know how it feels to be a child the way we used to be. These childhood experiences that I shared with friends will remain lodged in my memory and I'd like to share it to anyone who'd like to know what Baguio was like and how it was before to grow up in this city.


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