February 29, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on April 19, 2015).

In Sitio New Lucban (this was before the Marcos years, when barangays existed only in history narratives) where I spent the best part of my growing up years, neighborhood playmates were either a year or two older than I (born before the war) or a few years younger (born during liberation, or after the war), but even with the age gaps, like a magnet pulling sand, we were all drawn together by the fun and thrills of summer.
Cellphones and computers were unheard of at the time, but the wonders of nature more than made up for the slack.

Swimming in the Lucban River was nearly a daily ritual, and later on in the day we would play with flash cards, rubber bands, bottle caps, or marbles, whichever fad came ahead.
In the evenings, under a bright moonlit night, patintero was the name of the game, skipping on one foot with the eyes covered by one hand, and stepping on the line would mean relinquishing one’s turn.

Burnham Park was a favorite venue, but one needed money to go skating, biking or boating. No matter. Summer jobs, like shining shoes, peddling ice drops or poprice, or hawking newspapers – even selling sayote, when a side of a hill not dotted with trees and flowers had sayote patches growing all over, providing the earnings needed.
In my case, it was easier to filch money from my dad’s wallet, but it was more fun being with the other kids as you try to outdo one another on who could dispose of his wares more and faster.

Perhaps mountain blood had something to do with it, but horseback riding topped my list when it came to thrills. At full gallop with the wind beating against your face, the excitement comes from controlling a live animal, and unlike a bike or a boat that you can veer left or right, it is not the same with a horse, who may have his own ideas in which direction to head.
But the rental fee of P2 per hour was daunting. You may laugh, but two bucks then can buy a pack of pancit (50 centavos), a small siopao (25 centavos), a bottle of Coke (10 centavos), with enough money left for movie fare (45 centavos) and MM chocolates (30 centavos per sachet) plus two copies of comic books (20 centavos).
Today that kind of money isn’t even enough for jeepney fare.