April 17, 2024

We are somewhere in the ‘50s, and I am a restless 13-year-old up early on a hot summer weekend, eager to start the day with some physical activity or another – running a race, shooting marbles, swimming in the Lucban river, with a slingshot in my back pocket.
As per radio announcement, it is torrid and scorching all throughout the land.
And so, it was that an excited Baguio got itself ready to welcome a bumper crop of visitors coming over for the season, at least until the rains take over.

Air conditioning was a luxury affordable only to the well off, while most others had to settle for table electric fans to ward off the heat, at times jumping to a sweltering 95 plus degrees Fahrenheit.
Boracay and El Nido were unheard of in those days, even as Tagaytay was billing itself as an alternative tourist spot, only an hour’s drive from the Big City.
And therein lied the difference. Unless you travel to Tagaytay by car, you might find yourself stranded if you tarry a bit too long, missing the last bus out.
Unlike here where public transportation is available 24/7, which means you can go back home on the same day you come to visit.

Among the main attractions was Burnham Park. I remember being asked by a movie production staff to skate along the pavement where Charito Solis and her leading man were casually strolling.
All summer long, I waited for the movie to be shown in one of our local theaters.
Aside from the usual amenities like biking, skating, sailing on the lake, and yes, even horseback riding, it was likewise a place to see and be seen.

You could also walk up and down Session Road to exercise your legs, sip coffee or eat pancit at Dainty, have a rice toppings lunch at Session Café, and guzzle beer at the Skyview come sundown.

Provided you had a gate pass, Camp John Hay was where the action was – grilling steaks and chops at the picnic grounds, munching the best ever burgers at the 19th Tee, or licking ice cream like no other at Scout Hill, where you could play softball or mini golf.
At nightfall, there was music and dancing at the Halfway House, where watered down Scotch was 25 centavos a shot, the exchange rate steady at 2 to 1.

City Hall then was relatively honest and clean, the fear of getting caught and gossiped by the whole town as nothing but a common thief (kawatan) were determents to the crooked.
Today, it is making money while the sun shines, and if you have the misfortune of the law catching you dipping your fingers sa cavan ng bayan,” you can always bribe your way out.
In the hands of a well-connected lawyer, you can get off easy.

Consider this – deals and other shady transactions are being done by bigshots and their ilk; it is now between heads of state.
That’s where the zillions are.
President Rody has warned the Chinese not to dig for oil, otherwise…
OK, fine, says Premier Xi, why don’t we sit down and talk about it.

Duterte’s popularity rating may be in the high 90’s, but I promise you that half the people who voted for him now regret having done so.
But he still has enough time to become the great leader we hope – and expect him to be.
All we need are just a few miracles.
And oh, if it is any consolidation, “not that we love you less, we hate (you know who) more.”
Next week – by way of continuation, my growing up years with my cousins, a family trip to Balaoan, La Union my mom’s hometown, where she was once fiesta queen.

Obits: Only this week, a niece, Macky Carantes-Stephenson, passed on to a better world, followed by a nephew, Robert Suello Pidazo, whose mortal life was snatched by cancer.
The heavens have more than enough room for those blessed with a good heart, unblemished up to their last day on Earth.
Say hello to relatives and friends, Macky and Robert, who have gone there ahead of you.
God bless!