She was like my younger sister in Kindergarten. I would joyfully ride in their car in going home and supposedly drop me off in our house but oftentimes, we would beg her yaya, Nanay Ising, to just proceed to their place. Their home was my 2nd home because I would normally have lunch there and play with her and her siblings for the rest of the day. Her family owned two movie houses in Marbel, South Cotabato and I had the privilege to own a lifetime pass--my face!
My dearest friend since Grade I who flew all the way from Cebu to stand as my Maid of Honor in my fantasy wedding. I didn't feel the loneliness of being an only child for she occasionally slept in the house when we were in the elementary grades.
My ever loyal companion in watching Nora Aunor movies. One time, she fetched me around 8AM to watch a movie of our idol. I asked her to eat breakfast with me but she was in a hurry to go, explaining to me that there would be lots of cinema goers because it was a Saturday, a "market day" in Marbel, South Cotabato. We rushed to Galaxy Theatre, pushed our way through the crowd to buy her ticket. Suddenly, she held my hand and told me "Nors, nahihilo ako". She collapsed on the floor, followed by the coins on her hand. She was brought to the adjacent establishment and like a good Samaritan, the waitress of Venus Restaurant gave her a free glass of milk. I found out that she missed breakfast in order to fetch me early! I urged her to go home but she insisted that we stay. We did and went home before dawn, after two screening of the 2 movies (it was always double program in the province).
One of my barkada since elementary, Gene had the greatest influence on me with the way she laughed. It was loud, powerful, and contagious. She's also the most graceful dancer in school.
5. My First Love
I loved Bert since Grade III up to college. Every morning from Grade 1 to Grade 2 I would drag my heavy legs to get out of bed and prepare for school whenever I thought of my ever loyal bully, Leandrino. But when Bert transferred to our school from Iloilo City, I found the reason to wake up early and look forward to the bliss of being with him the whole day. We were fatefully separated from each other when I went to Manila after 2nd year high school but we did not lose communication. We constantly wrote each other thru snail mail.
During my senior year in college, Bert sent me a telegram requesting me to meet him at the pier. I was excited to see him again, not knowing that our meeting would open my eyes to the reality that I was no longer in love with him. Our very brief encounter snapped me out of my dream that we were meant for each other (I wrote in my diary when I was 12 that I will never get married if not to him).
I admired and envied this petite, soft spoken, poised, fair skinned pretty group of girls in the intermediate grades composed of Jocelyn, Ofelia, Marichu, Mimi and Salvacion. They are a refreshing sight in the midst of the rowdy group of bullies who often traumatized my day. I couldn't belong to their group because I wasn't cute, my skin was quite dark and I was not lady-like.
7. Bro. R. R., our Grade V Catechism Teacher--the first person who humiliated me in public. He overheard me saying something awful to one of the bullies not knowing that I was only defending myself. Unfortunately, he misinterpreted it as an insult against him. He reprimanded me in front of my classmates just as our class adviser was about to enter the room. The latter instructed me to ask forgiveness from him and I did, although in my heart I truly believed I wasn't at fault. That day, I learned that no matter how hard you try, you cannot please everybody all the time. That although people will judge you for what you did, what's more important is how God will judge you. He alone will know the truth. There's no need to explain your side because a real friend will always understand whether you're right or wrong while an enemy will never believe you even though you're right.
My partner in our dance group from Grade 1 to 6. Although I knew he wanted to dance with his crush Lina, he didn't complain that he became my partner for-all-time. He was a true gentleman, very unlike Leandrino and his notorious gang.
9. The MODERATE Gang of KNCHS
Here's how the group came to be:
a. the M from Myrna
b. the O from nO ra
c. the D from neliDa
d. the E from genEvieve
e. the R from maRna
f. the A from vAngie
g. the T from faiTh
h. the E from nEnita
Although the group disintegrated after 2 years (I went to Manila, Myrna went to Davao, Vangie went to Notre Dame), high school was memorable because of the MODERATE Gang.
10. Ate Neneng
When I was about 3 or 4, Ate Neneng was one of our bed spacers in our ladies' dormitory. We celebrate our birthday together because I was born June 6, and she--June 7. We were so close then, and we became closer when, by God's miracle, she married my uncle Felix. Because of her, I was admitted to UE High School although I was a transferee from the province. Ate Neneng became my ever thoughtful guardian from Junior High up to 2nd year College. She took good care of me as if I were her own child. I go home to their apartment during week ends where I would be pampered with my favorite food prepared by my Imang Bayang (her mother-in-law). She would also invite my room mates and treat them as her own family.
11. The Six Sexy Chicks of Room Six
Life as a transferee from the province was frightening but Neneng, Ning, Ninfa, Menchu and Leah made it easier for me. I wasn't even homesick because of their love and guidance. Although I was only 15 then and all of them were already college students, they treated me with utmost respect. I wouldn't have easily adjusted to city life if not for the support of my caring room mates in Holy Spirit Dorm.
12. Delia & Belen
My two closest friends in UE. Most of the class was laughing at me because of my Ilonggo accent but these two accepted me anyway. I enjoyed every minute that I was with them. It was a unique friendship of 3 girls coming from Zambales, Batangas & Cotabato.
13. D Big Taym Clan of Kalayaan
It was culture shock for me, coming from the bustling life in C.M. Recto to the sleepy town of Diliman, Quezon City. Not once did I feel homesick when I was still staying in CM Recto but when I transferred to Diliman, Quezon City, I felt the loneliness and emptiness I never felt before. My friends in Kalayaan Dorm (Zeny, Cristy, Elsa, Rosabel, Marichu, Art, Nilo, Ador, Erle & Arnel) saved me from melancholia and severe nostalgia.
14. After 3 years of surviving dorm food, I told Nanay it's about time that she put an end to my misery. I wanted to eat decent food for a change. I joined the de Jesus siblings of Marbel (Ate Baby, Kuya Ato, Bert & Jojo) in an apartment along Tomas Morato, just 15 minutes away from the university. Jojo's best friend Peter also stayed with us. It was a completely different life for me--something I never experienced before but truly exciting. My room mates and I had so much fun together.
15. In 1977, my family and I were reunited in Las Pinas City. Travel time and school load were nerve wrecking but thanks to my Stat barkada (Ador, Cristy, Agnes, Majel, Mel, Michelle & Luz), I was able to keep my sanity and managed to defend my undergraduate thesis.
My bestest friend in college who stood by me through thick and thin. Next to Nanay, he is probably the most patient man I've ever met. I eventually fell madly in love with him but later discovered that we're not destined for each other. He has all the qualities that a woman seeks for in a man but God had a different plan for both of us. Nevertheless--thank you, Nilo, for the six colorful years that you patiently spent with me.
With that, I think I have to pause here and reminisce for a while. Watch out for Part IV!