Christmas memories

Christmas memories

Ilang tulog na lang talaga pasko. This we used to sing when I was growing up and still in my shorts: 'Pasko na, pasko na, nananu ko pa...'

Oh I miss the good old days and I still pine for them because life was a lot simpler then. Unlike in this digital age when you greet friends and kins through social media. No more of those Christmas greeting cards through mail. No more going to ninongs and treating us with the traditional nilaga and suman. Coffee and chocolate drinks were served on houses.

After making the rounds and had enough, I go to Iniang's Place and devour my pancit with halo halo as my dessert. I will pick a theater featuring a double program, either at Devry or Marte. William Holden, Audie Murphy and Johnny Weissmuller were among my favorites. I fell in love with Cyd Charisse and Jane Russel. And the next day I will become the best story teller to my friends.

Another period and another backstory. Those not old enough will not have any memory of what was the Clark Freeport now when it was still Clark Air Force Base, the largest military installation outside of continental America, and home to the 13th US Air Force. They were neighbors for many many years. I remember how the American families celebrated Christmas.

There were occasions where me and my late friend Romy Yusi were invited by an American master sergeant in their home and witnessed for the how westerners prepared for the holidays. The living room with a tall Christmas tree with gifts wrapped in boxes of several sizes. Apples, oranges, chestnuts, ham and a whole roasted turkey. It was a spectacle that I can't help but swallowed the saliva watering my mouth.With that strange smell, the 'nilaga and malagkit ' at home were no match.

As a throwback, access to the base was so restrictive. Privileged local people were issued the so-called Commander's Pass. This was a very much coveted identification card that will give you access to the base, and will even allow you to dine at the Officers Club and other restaurants and cafeterias. Normally ithe passes were issued to elected officials of Angeles and Mabalacat and selected towns, including some governors and congressmen.

Aside from the privilege by having the commander's pass to dine in their restaurants, there was an entitlement of making a purchase for few oranges, apples and chocolates. Filipinos were feeling good just to have some few of these goodies. We love then and proud to have US servicemen and their families as our neighbors. We were separated by a fence and patrolling military police (MPs) with their ferocious dogs.

Not even the holidays will the Clark entrances be opened to the public. You need an escort. Even Santa Claus will be stopped at the gates.


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