Wednesday, December 06, 2017

What It Is To Be An American


 


 

After a considerable absence one returns and finds many fundamental and drastic alterations not so much in the physical landscape, but more on the people, their ideals and values spanning many spectra.  Not to suggest that no perceptible changes were being made when I first left.  But more because they are now so unavoidably glaring.

One finds a country almost at war with itself, almost equally divided politically, socially, and more.

Maybe only an outsider who used to be part of it could be able to notice and discern with some clarity and certitude.

Thus the troubled question above is posed.

The above question becomes relevant as necessitated by the hazy picture shrouded in a bit of enigma and mystery when one attempts to conceptualize what an American is.  At times the image coming out is flattering, but at other times deprecating.   Sometimes colored as white, at times as black, and still at other times as an admixture of two ethnicities or more.

This bring us to a rather idle treatise on the subject, inspired by some hope of elucidation.

Simply being or living in American soil does not make one American. The soil does little or practically nothing to make one American.  Thus, a tourist or a new migrant in America cannot hope to fully understand what it is to be American, much less hope to become one in thought and action in a hurry.  Not only because of the short duration of stay but for more involved reasons.

Neither does the color of one’s skin or one’s ethnicity determine whether one is an American.  After all, the entire country itself is composed of very diverse immigrants from practically all corners of the globe.

Being American does not lend to being easily defined or reduced to words.  It is a tangled composite of many different intangible facets accumulated over the many years of its existence.  And it has been likened as the “grand social experiment” by those who founded it.

All these intangibles reside collectively in the people and the revered institutions that make this country whole and recognizable, anchored in spirit and thought
bequeathed by previous generations of families dating back to its very founding.  But the people themselves do not necessarily know what they have that make them American and how others may be informed and clothed to become part and parcel of the body politic.

And because of this seeming paradox or mystery, it is no easy task to be American, maybe not even for those who have lived all their lives in the country.  Because this requires a conscious effort at learning the qualities needed to become one, especially because of the confluence and conflation of many varied cultures and ethnicities in the country.  And all this admittedly coupled with the concomitant grating friction resulting from such coming together.  Likened to tectonic upheavals we are most familiar with. Unique combination and historic union not likely found or present in all other countries in the world.

It rather demands total immersion in this rather complicated and intermingled society we call the US of A.  The same process that countless other previous immigrants have done in the past and continue doing in the present.  And which produced a country like no other in history, most likely because of the kind of body politic created by such.

The immersion medium itself which has been in use innumerable times has undergone dilution and alterations that what comes out may not be totally similar to the previous earlier ones. 

One has to then be very discerning and discriminating to determine which ones are still in congruence with that in the past.

Put differently, it can be likened to clear water that has been used in this immersion process over the years becoming muddled and maybe not as recognizable as it was before.  Thus, it is incumbent to have it regularly tested and maybe cleaned so as to approximate how and what it was when it all started.

As once an immigrant to the country, I too have witnessed the many resultant changes in what it is to be American since the beginning of our stay, and some changes one may judge as not corresponding to the ideals once established by the founding fathers.  This observation materializing in the short span of a few decades.

But at the same time, one also witnesses that though Americans come from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and cultures, they collectively speak like one, act like one, and more importantly, exhibit values and behavior like one people, cohesive and indivisible. 

At least as gleaned from what its majority believes in.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Pathology of Doctor’s Visits …. Of the Elderly

 
 When medical authorities break the news that your eyesight is compromised, then it is time to be hip and cool and get reacquainted with your dark sunglasses, every time you are in the sun.

Recalling a past time when only blind mendicants being towed around the city by their guides wore those dark glasses, all day.
Now it’s considered hip, cool, and even rad, when you see those celebrities wear those outsized dark glasses even when the sun has gone down.  Even our local hipsters have followed the trend, their little faces almost completely hidden by those faddish glasses.

Now it is my turn.  An old clip-on, recommissioned for new service.
 
************

As the centenarian lady runner opined, her performances in her races are not getting any better, but only worse because of her advanced years.

The same could be said of doctor’s visits for one who has reached hard to count years.  Like I am?

Thus, those visits may not be welcomed, but rather dreaded a bit and to be avoided if possible.

Anyway, in my case the choices are next to nothing, especially if I want to continue to live.  So doctor’s visits have to be scheduled and observed.  And because we now live over 7500 miles away from our health provider, the visits take on the nature of one-stop shops.  Examinations covering from head to toe, especially for a case like mine whose medical rap sheet runs in pages, are called in covering various appearances on different occasions.

Expectations on these visits are rather modest and the bars are set very low.  Just hoping that the conditions discovered during the last visits had not worsened, or that no new alarming conditions have in the meantime cropped up.

But like the centenarian lady runner, we foreknow the results to be expected.

And these last visits are no different.  Existing conditions have dipped even lower, and new ones are discovered, expected from an aging body that is on the inevitable road to its own junkyard.

So now know that your buddy pacemaker has to work harder to maintain that normal heartbeat, like 96% of the time.  By the way, your thyroids are not in synched so will now have to lower the daily doses you have been taking.   Also, with the new guidelines, your elevated BP will have to be attended to even more.

And the new findings?  A double whammy.  A slew of quick vision care exams show invasive cataracts on both eyes, and presto, you are now considered a “glaucoma suspect”.  And thus a battery of exams will have to be scheduled.  If you have the time.  And please keep your eyes protected from the blistering sun in the tropics.  So advised to wear sunglasses. As usual, your total cholesterol level is at best borderline.  So….  Etc.…. 

A little glimmer of hope.  Your eyeglass prescription has not changed since the last examination which was years ago.  A significant enough good tidings to celebrate?

While the overall prognosis may not be exhilarating, one continues to be of the thought that life is still bearable and livable.  Continued physical exercise is still allowed and continues to be a  tolerable routine that produces some uplift not only in physical fitness, but more importantly in mental alertness and acuity, part and parcel of what is called the “runner’s high”, or the “second wind”.  This does the late Jim Fixx proud, the father of running who died doing the best thing he liked to do, running.
 
 
000000000000000

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Life Reduced to Arithmetic Calculations, from Start to Finish.


 

Exactly 9 months after being conceived, a man is ushered into the world, a world of consuming uncertainties and unknowns.

Where the only certainty is that life is finite, but as to how and when exactly that is the riddle.

Still, man plods through life making arithmetic calculations and planning, based on dog-eared standards refined through the ages

From the age of reason, that man learns to use Arithmetic to plan and live his life.  He plans for the years of elementary, secondary, etc. schooling, the monotonous cadence interspersed briefly with some levity and idleness known as vacations, holidays, etc.

Then he plans for his productive working life, including the idea and feasibility of creating a family of his own.  All this, amidst the uncertainty of the length of his life, but guided essentially by the life expectancy table again honed over the ages, taking into account all other elements which may make that life shorter like accidents, sickness, disease, etc.

Past the peak of his mature life, typically human parts start needing attention.  Some start becoming bothersome and maybe life-threatening, and thus requiring professional help.

As he approaches closer to his expected life span, tweaked by the many enhancements and modifications that blazing science and technology can offer, his arithmetic calculations take on more certainty, and shorter duration.

In my instance, the most hardy and robust of human organs, the heart has required special and customized attention. It has the close assistance of a pacemaker, or more technically an ICD, implanted cardioverter defibrillator, and for my particular case, a dual-chamber unit, with two leads, one attached to the upper right atrial chamber, and the other to the lower ventricular chamber.  Each lead provided with an electrode that will provide the spark when necessary to keep the heart beating normal.

The upper lead will provide the electrical spark that is typically provided naturally by the sinus node in the heart.  Absent the spark, the heart may not beat at all and life will be no more. 

In my case, my beating heart now uses the pacer for the spark needed 98% of the time, while the lower lead is being used only 6% of time.  Per last examination/reading the implanted pacemaker I have still has an expected usefulness of 13 years, taking into account its current usage.

All these details put into context, the more or less exact length of my life.  Until and unless a new pacer is installed to replace the depleted one.

This therefore as one can clearly see, puts an arithmetic certainty to the end of one’s life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Prodigal Sibling of RER Drive Subdivision


 

 












 

Once upon a time, say 1974, RER Drive Subdivision was one integral and indivisible development on the western side of the meandering Cagayan River.

Though once a contiguous piece of land  in its over 38 hectares size, it was however splintered on the northern side by the then newly-minted Cagayan-Iligan highway that was bannered by the also spanking-new bridge to the east, the second to span the river after many, many years.

Fast forward to the current century and a myriad of changes has visited not only this area but in the entire city proper and beyond.

RER Drive Subdivision is now composed of two phases.  The bigger southern portion being Phase 1, and the smaller one being Phase 2.

And unlike the biblical narrative of prodigality, the ending to this story is quite different.  Overall, Phase 2 appears to be doing quite well.  A very appealing guardhouse greets visitors and residents alike, very easy on the eyes but looking sufficiently secured.  Streets are clean and not too many parked vehicles on the curbs.  Street signs are well maintained and visibly located.  The park bordered on one side of the main/gateway street does not look too shabby.  And finally, houses are well painted and maintained, with attractive fences.

My Sunday jog routine this morning took me out of RER Drive Phase 1 to the gate of Phase 2, and it was so devised for one self-serving reason.

That gateway-main street has obvious personal importance to me, simply because it was named after my late father, the several street signs in intersections confirm that so.  And I therefore wanted to learn of the condition of those street signs, since during my last visit several years back, I had witnessed them in a bad state of disrepair.

A little side story about this, a little anecdote that personally involved me.  In 1975, the subdivision was then one, and there were still no street signs but only block numbers to identify each location.  A few years later, one late afternoon home after a hectic day in my job with the bank, I was tooling around our place which still had a lot of work to be done, when I heard a rather unique engine sound nearing our location and stopping in front of us.  Unique, BTW, because we were not used to listening to big engine sounds coming from big American muscle cars since only a very few number of families had them.

It was the subdivision owner.  Driving his big and shiny American car.  Smartly dressed and walking with stiff dignity and confidence. And he was my uncle.  He had stopped in the middle of the street directly in front of our driveway, holding what looked like a roll of the subdivision plan.  He had spread the whole piece on top of his hood and beckoned to me whom he had seen moving toward him.

 
After my timid salutation, he motioned me over and proudly announced to me that he had already decided on all the names of the subdivision streets, that all of them were those of close relatives, and lastly, that all of them were dead. 

By then his first cousins, my father and his younger brother, Graciano, both still young at 57 and 52, had passed on.  In a strange way then, their early passing assured their enduring memory in posterity, granted it is just in street names.  But that was how it was.  And just as quickly, my uncle had gone to attend to his myriad of concerns

So back to my morning visit.  Armed with my GoPro Hero camera, took shots of the gate and main street all the way to the end.  And the images are attached herewith.

Street signs, all artfully lettered and well-scrubbed, and standing tall in corners, ever ready to lead motorists and pedestrians to their exact destinations.

All’s well that ends well.

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Godlessness Equals Moral Relativism: Fast-Lane Life In Vegas


 


 

Barring any desire or wish of being dogmatic and judgmental about this still fresh horrific episode, the following is advanced to offer a possible rationale of what happened in Las Vegas.

As mentioned the city among other things, such as being the entertainment and gambling capital of the world, is also abashedly referred to as Sin City.

We know that among other things the concept of sin may be defined also as the omission of doing certain moral acts.

It is an undeniable indication  that the US, especially because of liberal progressivism and moral relativism of the left, has been forcefully  pushed  toward trying to eliminate as much as it could any signs and semblances of religion in the public square and in public proceedings.  Therefore, actively trying to remove God from everyday lives.  Right or wrong, we concede that religion informs the learned moral values who hold dear in life, and also teaches us to earnestly pursue virtue in the living of our lives.

Thus, it is sad to note that the Las Vegas killer among other things is said to have no religion.  That is what his brother declared.  Therefore, he was not religious, showed no interest in it but was decidedly, a serious and heavy gambler.  And probably that is why he had felt at home maintaining houses in Las Vegas and in Reno, too, another gambler’s paradise in the northern part of the same state of Nevada.  He and his family had lived in Florida, and Texas before.

It should also be noted that just before the mass shooting occurred, the harvest festival concert which is essentially a County Western event, found it appropriate to insert in its loaded repertoire of songs, the singing of God Bless America that had the huge crowd of over 22,000 spiritedly chiming in.  A most inspiring and elating exercise of homage and Christian affirmation of the supremacy of a Creator, which would a little later be terribly punctuated by such a horrific deed.

 But think about it.  It is like even in this ultra-modern age, the followers of God are still being harassed and persecuted.  The Las Vegas massacre a clear sign that the random killing of innocents is still in vogue.
 
 
********************
 
Interpreting part of the “hard sayings” that Christ bequeathed to us his followers, to try to explain the whys and wherefores of Paddock and his horrific deed.
 
When we do not pursue the path of virtue, we veer to the easy street of vice.
 
And it is because of vice that we have a life hereafter.  Because vice brought death of body and soul right here on this earth.  A living hell.
 
When vice reared its ugly head, the Creator had to provide the escape which is the life hereafter.
 
Paddock tried to infect the people with his dead body and soul by bringing physical death to them, except he did not consider the salvific life hereafter promised all of us.

 
 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Spectre of Our Reality


 
 
A dreary thought for this Sunday:

Our renewed residence in the old homeland has led us to unexpected turns,

Lading us with threatening challenges against our steadfast resolve to stay the course.

Irksome obstructions that partake of impactful results against such resolve made worse by the multi-pronged damages they inflict

Wholesale turn of events that make us rethink and recalibrate how we regard humanity hereabouts in general, from the lowest rung to the highest, from relatives to simply acquaintances.

That humanity has far degraded and with rue, we are egged to say that there is hardly anybody to be trusted or believed in this place.  At least among those that we interact with.

That it has now been darkly transformed to a world of self-aggrandizing actions and motives, each one greedily jockeying up for one’s own narrow self-interests to the detriment of society at large.  A world to be shunned.  Of a humanity weakened further by privation and moral neglect

A sad commentary indeed to be published, but the repetitive incidences are so plentiful and commonplace that only one default conclusion could ensue as a consequence.

But worse than the resultant changed attitudes one harbors on others which are still easier to resolve by simply staying away, are the malevolent transformation they engender in our own selves.  The utter dismay, the debilitating frustration, the nagging sorrow, the negative judgment, the acquired disregard for all others, the consuming ill will, etc.  that now find space to reside in one’s mind and spirit.

That is the greater loss and challenge. For who can run away from oneself?

 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Church In Kawayanon, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon








 
 
The name Mrs. Tugot, even without the first name, will I am sure conjure some unforgettable memories for many of the people and families I interacted with in the mid-60’s.

Mrs. Tugot was almost an iconic figure during those times, speaking about religious fervor and devotion.  A very kindly lady of considerable girth, who always exhibited such amiable disposition and boundless generosity, leaving many of us with no tinge of hesitation about visiting her place without prior notice in Kawayanon, Manolo Fortich, and pleading and praying for spiritual guidance and assistance, while at the same time partaking of the very filling food offerings served us during those visits. 

Why my most easily recalled memory is that a late afternoon drive from Cagayan with some lady schoolmates and finding Mrs. Tugot at her house, where we were immediately ushered in and served the nicest beef sandwiches I had ever tasted wrapped up in those very delectable slices of bread that to this day continue to bring visitors to the Del Monte Clubhouse.

I digress a bit, so meanwhile back to the ranch.  Yes, she was noted as having such personal piety and blessedness that she could intercede for assistance from her two most favorite devotional personalities, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Sr. Sto. Nino.  And many devotees trooped and flocked to her place for their own special and personal needs.  Others driven simply by the heavy alluring pull exerted by such devotional fervor and needing to be in that enviable presence of spiritual awe.

 As I recall she had always dreamt of having a church built especially for her favorite spiritual patrons.

The ensuing years and their own special cares put all these into the back of my mind.  Until I came back almost 50 years later. 

My regular trips to Dahilayan allow me to pass by Kawayanon in San Miguel and no trip is made without having visual contact of a very impressive church building in an almost unlikely place.  It is almost across the road from the access road leading to the famed Del Monte Clubhouse and its equally noted golf course.   Of course, I had asked about it and was told it was built largely by the efforts of Mrs. Tugot.

BTW, Mrs. Tugot, in another vein, was also famous as the spouse of Celestino “Tinong” Tugot unrivaled golf pro of yesteryears from the Del Monte stable.

Anyway, I had never stopped at the church after countless trips to Dahilayan till this Saturday.   I and the wife felt we had to.  So we did and brought home some pictures.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

On Going Astray and Finding Redemption


 

 
Started learning about the life of this rather attractive individual soon after his explosive videos were made available on the Internet.  With the subsequent accompanying claim from Mr. Kho that his private videos were leaked unauthorized by certain parties who wanted to do him wrong. 

We learned later that the videos were made without the express knowledge and consent of the ladies involved.  The public leaking of the videos was truly reprehensible, but not much worse than the fact that the videos were taken privately without the knowledge and consent of the other parties.  So Mr. Kho many would declare could be judged as no worse than the leakers themselves.  Was he just making a video gallery of his “conquests”?

But in due time all things would be explained.  This after a very public scourging and condemnation of the atrocious deeds of Mr. Kho, complete with a Senate hearing to boot, and even the stripping of his license to practice medicine one that he obviously spent many laborious years to acquire.   In a manner of speaking, when all this was done, he was left for dead.

But a lofty redemption was not to be denied, complete with a very stirring testimonial about his childhood and growing-up years.  Being molested at a very early age, leaving him with a very deep and ugly trauma.  A tender kid’s psyche becoming so seared and scarred inexorably leading his promising life (he had become a doctor in the process) to wanton and reckless years.  Years of being amoral, aimless, and being cynical about his own life as well as of others he developed relationships with.   

But in the abysmal depths of depressive sorrow and remorse, and after a couple of unrequited suicide attempts, he found the abiding light that would lead to his personal redemption according to his own account.  In short, he found Jesus after a most vigorous and disaster-laden search and Hayden has proffered his spent life on His knees as the most abject of individual and with all the declared humility and compunction man could generate.  For Jesus to instruct and guide. He now considers himself a most avid and relentless follower of Jesus and all that He represents in His life, His precepts and His examples.

All this I gathered from his very public testimonial, which I believe he most publicly recounts on occasion with the blessings of the religious group that he has joined with.

In all, it is a very inspiring account and makes for a riveting human interest story, fit maybe for a movie or two.

Then we read this account of a May-December union.  And the grandiosity and exorbitance of its details would bring goosebumps to the many dreamy-eyed debutantes inhabiting our very polite and affluent circles of society.

And it brings me to only one question.  What would Jesus have done if He were this once unfortunate man?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

When Man’s Dignity and Respectability Play Second Fiddle to an Accoutrement


 


 

Once read a flippant study in the US about how everyday motorists show certain attitudes in public.  The study was executed quite simply, watching and recording behavior of motorists while idling in front of an intersection waiting for the lights to turn.

And the expected results came out quite cut and dried.  When an expensive car like a Mercedes (that was then the example given) tarries a bit after the lights turn, there was a marked though muted hesitance of those in the back to start honking their horns.  Not in the case of a more common and less-expensive car because almost immediately angry horns would start blaring at the first sign of delay.

The obvious inference was that those in the back associate expensive cars with important and influential people and thus the hesitance, and maybe, the fear to enrage the mighty and powerful.  Not so with regular folks driving the typical sedans you see toiling around.

Nothing new here.  Especially in this age when perception is king. A local Hizzoner who initially portrayed himself as the spokesperson of the masa was noted upon his election to have selected the most expensive SUV to be found locally, instead of taking possession of the former mayor’s still-looking-new and expensive service car. One to commemorate and to measure up to a newly-minted exalted position?

Anyway, this behavior is true in the US, and true everywhere else I dare say.  And I cull from my own personal experiences to drive home this well-worn point

Here in the old homeland, I typically have 3 options of vehicles to drive.  There was a 4th one, a two-wheeler, but because of real imminent dangers to life and limb decided to consign it to the mountains for some other use.

Lucky me?  Not really, since all 3 of them are quite old – the latest one having come out in 2007, the oldest a remnant of 1995, and the 3rd, a pretender of a vehicle bought over 10 years ago.  Anyway, they all have one general purpose, to get me from Point A to Point B said idiomatically, with the least amount of accompanying problems like ease of parking, and maneuverability in narrowed streets and traffic jams.  Thus, for certain specific purposes and occasions, each fills the bill which the 2 others would not be able to do as well.  Thus my choices as to which vehicle to use would be predicated by the purpose or purposes of the trip. 

In Cagayan de Oro, with all the attendant traffic problems plaguing the city, the ideal would have been the motorbike.  It could go most anywhere, even on sidewalks and parking would pose no problem. But the lurking trade-off is the risk to one’s health, both physical and mental. So on to the next best options.

Since we are dealing with behavior of motorists, one can say outright that the vehicle that gets the least respect and courtesy is the smallish and cheap Multicab van, and the one that is better deferred to would be the DMax, I guess partly because of its very robust engine and size.  And thus, its overall price. And the oldest one the L200 pick-up is in the middle, at times getting some respect but in most other times treated like the aged senior citizen that it is.

So how do all of this translate or play out into the reality that driving around the  streets of the city on any given day is?

For sure, driving the Multicab literally means getting no respect or quarter at all.  From all and sundry.  Not from the huge and shiny SUVs with their deeply-tinted windows.  Certainly not from the gargantuan trucks oozing out of the city’s narrow streets.  Not from the devil-may-care jeepneys/taxis and other public utilities.   Not from the relas who live in a world all to their own.  Not from the pesky pedicabs sprouting all over the place.  And yes, not even from the wayward pedestrians and the traffic enforcers when they are around.  Why, last Friday one RTA personnel manning a busy intersection could not help himself mutter within earshot how slow my Multicab was in clearing the intersection he was trying to keep from tangling.

This means none of them would give you an inch of right of way even if you waited till kingdom come.  Unless one forces the issue on them, playing a dangerous game of chicken.  And worse, all of them including the noisy motorbikes, will literally steal into your lane or where you find yourself driving, solely at their own pleasure and discretion and no amount of honking could even get the attention of those deaf and dumb motorists.  Though one knows they hear all right.

Yes, the multicab hereabouts could be deemed the perennial concept vehicle of the masa.  They are just so utilitarian and so darn cheap vehicles they can be used for anything and everything – as service car, as family van, as public utility, as whatever.  No wonder not only the masa but including polite society can only show derision and loathing for such low class.  And if you drive one, consider yourself as having been dumped into the same dire category. Getting no respect or courtesy at all, or any quarter given.

But when not driving the multicab, the gray L200 comes in very handy.  Old enough as to not worry about dings and dents, but quite reliable enough because of its older model diesel engine.  Has good loading capacity for short hauls.  Except driving it leads to a bit of confusion, because somehow one is not sure how the rest of the traffic denizens would regard it.  Like I said at times they show it some respect, and because of it one is not left languishing behind in busy intersections.  And one has clout enough to play the game of chicken when the need arises.  Still the classier guys those driving such new and nice SUVS with deeply-tinted windows will dismiss you because you are old and thus not worth much and definitely out of their league. They will most likely not give you the time of day in terms of right of way and exclusivity of driving lanes, preferring to ease you to a corner where you can only wait for them to pass you by to breathe in their noxious exhaust.  This they can do because they are newer and with more muscles, and because they can.

But driving the DMax is a totally different experience.  Why you could even play devil-may-care road hog if you had the mind and bent to do so. You feel you are on top of the world, cruising gallantly and victoriously through the rubble and trash called the rest of traffic.   Why you make people feel that you are the king of the road, having your way with traffic rules and regulations as strictures to be observed only by those who are less gifted and blessed.   Thus parking regulations cannot claim you as part of their domain, but for you to lord over them, at times with a simple flick of the hazard light button even in the middle of the street with traffic crawling all over. In the world of the lawless, you are on 7th heaven.

Then one wakes up and realizes one cannot be happy or at ease entertaining such lofty presumptions.   Rather one wants to play the role of civic-minded motorist trying to obey traffic regulations in the hope of improving the chaotic situation. Like the proverbial candle lighted in that stormy sea of lawlessness

Still, it is nice to think that when I drive that DMax one could actually explore an upside-down world. A world where individuality reigns, rather than the common good.  Or where selfish personal whims pre-empt social goals.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Tale Twice, or Thrice Told


 


 
If time were not a moving thing and we could make it all stay, then I would wish that the blissful memories lovingly stored in my mind would stay the same and constant.

But it is not to be for time inexorably moves on, and most typically its harsh elements bring the unwanted ravages many of us are unwilling to accept.

And so it is while intently revisiting the place where an over-sized family once stayed and grew up.  A small place in the heart of the city just beginning to flex its young muscles in the decade of the 50’s. The old timber house built in 1948 on a hundred square meter lot has now been gone decades, but somehow its immediate vicinity has managed to stem the tides of time, keeping its looks much like they were in the 50’s.

What remains then are the microcosmic haunts that I as a kid used to spend interminable time , whether at play, in study, or just in idle moments which as kids in the idyllic 50’s we had plenty of.

One such favored place was the covered walkway separating the two houses of my father and that of her elder sister on the Victoria St. side. It may have been no more than 3 meters wide and 10 meters long.  The underside of my aunt’s staircase limiting our movements at one end, and our outdoor bath and laundry room on the other end.  This place was perpetually dark, dank, and dirty, making the soil loamy and rancid.  But while there we were sheltered from the sun and rain.  So there we played our geolens game, pock-marking the place with the shallow holes we needed for the play.  Many idle moments witnessed our noisy presence in that small cramped space, none the worse for its limitations in size.  In times past as I got older, I would find myself smirking as I pass that area, being reminded of even earlier times.  The images attached are now those of the current day, and a lifetime apart from my childhood.  Still the memories linger and haunt.

 On the Del Mar St. side, another lot owned by a younger sister of my father, stayed vacant for a good part of the 50’s.  And so that became our playground, sunny and expansive, all of 200 square meters and where once stood a very proud tambis tree.   At some point, a crude timber garage structure under GI roofing was built at the back to accommodate a couple of vehicles.  Still farther back was the laundry-drying area where strung laundry lines swayed in the wind.  Thus most days one could find my hardworking mom mechanically going through the self-same routines of drying laundry for a household with nine kids.

And so this multi-purpose space was the scene of many of our youthful mishaps, like learning to ride a bike, carefully climbing the tree for its delicious fruits, clambering on the trusses and joists of the garage structure, deep in our pretend games of being vine-swinging Tarzan and the other Hollywood heroes we had accumulated in our youth.  I even played knife-throwing Errol Flynn, using the poor tree as target. And so forth. 

And yes, we even had some left-over space to maintain a little vegetable garden where sibuyas and kamatis, and pechay were planted.  At times chasing after the pesky talisik or the bigger talapan which were bountiful then.

I particularly as a kid spent much time in my escapist thoughts in this area, mindlessly engrossed in my own pretend world oblivious of all the distractions around.

 All this ended when my aunt decided to build a house in that vacant lot.  So we got restricted and hemmed in to our side of our house, with very little access to the back where the laundry was dried.  Reliving those days you would still witness my mom inching her way through a narrowed path to hang her laundry.

And to this day, laundry still hangs on that area where slivers of sunshine could still penetrate during certain hours of the day.

Yes, time moves on.  At times slow and painstaking, at times completely obliterating the past.   Regardless, my memories are my own and only I can discard them.