Those were the days my friends

Those were the days my friends

Recently, the social circles in Angeles City and in the City of San Fernando held grand balls in an attempt to revive the lifestyle of the upper crust in yesteryears. But sorry to say, their luster has diminished. Their efforts are commendable though. I am referring to the years when there is no Netflix and YouTube yet, and there were no big hotels in San Fernando, Angeles and Clark. Samgyupsal was unheard of. Eat all you can, buffet and smorgasbords weren’t in fashion. Not today, even families which are not so rich can afford all those I mentioned.

The lifestyles of Capampangans in the early years only the rich Capampangans, particularly those living in Manila grouped together and formed a ball club called ‘Man Communidad Pampanguena ‘, a counterpart of the Kahirurp ball club of the sugar baron families in Negros and Bacolod City. The demarcation line was drawn between the haves and the haves not. The sugar planters occupied the front seats of cockpits and churches. No poor can sit in the two front row seats. There were poor people who won’t get out of their homes with tattered clothes. Now it’s fashionable with a ripped jeans, and they cost more. The rich never wore denims. Khaki pants were worn only by town policemen and conductors of the Enriquez owned La Mallorca Pambusco.

RETRO: Lifestyle evolved over the years.I was still in shorts, and there were only few families in Porac who owned those encased television sets and what was mostly viewed at nighttime were the Combat series starring Rick Jason and Vic Morrow, Hawaii Five with Steve Mcgarett and Wild Wild West with Robert Conrad.There was never a traffic on the streets because only few jeepneys were plying the nine kilometer Porac-Angeles stretch. Maybe only twenty families owned private cars. The countryside is peaceful and quiet except for some skirmishes between government troopers and dissident groups. The seat of power is at the provincial capitol in San Fernando. There was only one hospital , and this was the Pampanga Provincial Hospital.

In our town there was only one public school and located at the back of the Catholic church. Students coming from the barrios had to walk some kilometers. I remember some of them like the Saenz siblings from Hacienda Dolores, the Coronel brothers from Pulong Santol and the Dimalantas from Mitla. ( I wonder what happened to all of them now, what have they become). Hitching a hike from jeepneys for them was a luxury. Compared today where almost all families, considered poor included have a vehicle to ride. It’s either a Sarao Jeep, a trike, an old car or the least a motorcycle.

For movies I go to Angeles City. Box office tickets were 25 centavos for orchestra and fifty centavos for balcony. There were only five movie theaters in Angeles City, namely Devry, Marte, Paraiso, Rio and Eden Theatres. Sandra and Robin Theatres of the Nepomucenos came later. The Tablantes built several theaters too. The known Hollywood actors were John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Gregorio Peck,Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Humphrey Bogart among others. Gorgeous women in those years were Ingrid Bergman, Gina Lolobrigida, Cyd Charisse, Jennifer Jones, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren were among the popular. Brigitte Bardot was a fantasy.

Our province mate Rogelio Dela Rosa was king of Philippine movies. His rival for the title was Leopoldo Salcedo of Cavite. All kids like me love action and watched movies of Jesus ‘Og’ Ramos, Jose Padilla Sr. in Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo, and Cesar Ramirez in Bernardo Carpio. Efren Reyes Sr. was a swashbuckler and always on the scenes for long sword fights with Johnny Montero. (Have I heard millennials saying ‘we don’t know any of them. Of course). We are now on the digital age and people seldom go to movies but are watching movies and documentaries on Netflix and YouTube.

We love fiestas. People aside from visiting kids and friends had the chance of watching Zarzuelas or two bit variety shows starring unknown performers. The more cultured loved the serenatas of two big bands competing on the bisperas of fiesta mostly held at the church patio. Santacruzans were big events. An occasion to watch bevy of beauties coming from other towns in their beautiful gowns and all made up. Those were the days, my friends.

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