Archive for the ‘life in the province’ Category

I dreamt again of the old house my maternal grandparents had in the province. I remember that in each window, Hoya orchids were always in bloom. One of my aunts (who is now 98 years old) took charge of growing plants while my oldest aunt had a small sari-sari store in our barrio then.

My brothers and I spent the first four years of our elementary school in our barrio except our youngest. When we three older kids were already in high school at the University of Santo Tomas, my youngest brother was transferred to the public school near our place in Quezon City.

I remember those years spending the first six years in a public school. I started in Grade one, no nursery, no kindergarten. It was just a two-room school house with two teachers. Grade one and Grade two were in one room while the upper grades were in the other. One of our teachers was mom’s first cousin.

Being in a public school here is very different from spending in a private school. In the former, we were taught to take care of the plants planted in the school yard. I spent my last two years of grade school in our town proper. My classmates and I were divided into groups because after school hours, we were obliged to clean the room. Since the flooring was wood, we waxed it every Friday and used coconut husk to clean it.

Us girls had this Home Economics subject where we were taught to keep house, cook, embroider, crochet and make a simple budget. I love that separate building where we spent our H.E. class. It was complete with a bedroom, a small comfort room, living and dining rooms where we had our classes and a tiny kitchen where we learned to make fruit preserves.

I got a shock of my life during my first year in high school. I was a probinsiyana and my classmates then came from different schools in Manila and chose University of Santo Tomas to finish high school. Back in our time, it was not even a co-ed institution. We were separate from the boys. They belonged to the afternoon session. We even had separate entrance and exit. I enjoyed my nine-year stay in UST. Took up BSC Economics and worked as a student librarian for three years. Hence the love of books.

Oh, oh, remembering the years, the life of a younger Arlene.

Happy weekend.


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You’d think it is a review of the movie, right? Wrong. I just borrowed the title.

I saw this picture of a little girl walking with her old grandma and I suddenly thought of my grandparents. I grew up not knowing nor even seeing my paternal grandmother. She died when her youngest son was born (the seventh child- six brothers and a sister). What was sad about it my uncle Domie who is now around eighty-two years old was born with speech defect. He is the only one we call uncle and the rest of them we call Tatay. Tatay means father in the vernacular. I don’t know what happened, uncle Domie never attended school but he knows how to count, he knows the faces of our local money. His nieces including me are all called Bea (pronounced as Be)by him.

Most of my Dad’s brothers and only sister told me that I was a look-alike of my paternal grandmother, my height, the way I walk, the way I speak and the way I carry myself among relatives and friends. I wished I have known her.My older brother and I together with three cousins grew up under the care of my maternal grandmother. Mom was always with Dad when he was working here in Metro Manila until my eldest brother and I reached high school and we were all transferred here. My youngest brother spent his grade school years in a nearby public school when we lived in Quezon City. The four of us spent our high school years at the University of Santo Tomas, two of us graduated there in college.

Speaking of my baing (vernacular for grandma), she was quite strict with us but we grew up knowing how to pray the rosary every six o-clock in the evening. There was even a part there spoken in Latin but I already forgot all about it. I wrote in one earlier post here that I learned weaving mats through her. I learned a lot about life during the Second World War through her stories. That probably influenced me why I like reading about anything historical now.

Funny how sometimes, just a mere picture would trigger memories. Sometimes, you long for those days of old. You smile at the thought and you reminisce.

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Got a little nostalgic while weeding so early this morning. I have to harvest the young sweet potato vines for our sinigang. It’s just a small patch, a square meter space adjacent to my growing guava tree.

I remember those days when my oldest brother and I were in grade school in the province and my two younger brothers were here in Manila with Dad and Mom. We grew up in the province with my maternal grandmother until we transferred here in Manila when we were in high school. I loved our previous house, it was built on stilts with weaved buho bamboo for sidings and capiz windows. It has a thatched roof which my dad changes every four or five years I think with the help of some of our neighbors. It is usually done during the summer months and when the water reed is dry enough for arranging into mini batches then attached to long bamboo poles. Back then, bayanihan was the trend in our province. You invite neighbors to help for the day’s job but they don’t accept payment except for free lunch and snacks.

Our dining chairs were made of two long wood benches on each side of the table and two chairs at each end. It sits ten people. What I remember clearly was this very low table in our kitchen which we called dulang. It’s an Indian style seating but I loved it. I used to see furnitures like those in some Korean telenovelas.

An example of a dulang.

Given the style and designs of houses nowadays, it is quite impractical to have a dulang in your kitchen because it eats a lot of space. During those days though, they were used in so many homes in the province. I remember only using the dining table when we had guests.

We also had what we called banggera, an open shelf used for those plates and drinking glasses with a large drinking pot with a faucet. The large pot was was made of clay. It lets the water cool throughout the day.

How a banggera looks like.

I’m dreaming of having a small nipa hut besides our house in the province and with vegetables and ornamentals growing there. My brother who is an architect said it could be done but wood building materials are more expensive. I said only the comfort room and the kitchen will be made in concrete while the rest would be made of bamboo. Actually, there are now so many small/miniature huts which one could place in a garden but they don’t have the amenities of a bedroom, restroom and kitchen.

My mind wanders.

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