May 18, 2024

My late father Art visited me in my dreams last night and more or less directing me to where I would or should be in the next year or two. Looking back, I have served our people well in the field of public service and maybe, just maybe.
Memories of how he lived his life and how we did ours came into mind. Life was simple then, no complications of gadgets and social media.
We lived near a river at Trancoville and the house and lot were courtesy of the Government Service Insurance System housing loan mama Mely took as a public school teacher at Lucban Elementary School where I also studied.
The wooden house was a seven-room affair with a terrace a quarter size of a basketball court. There was an actual half basketball court on ground. The driveway adorned with native-inspired carved stones accommodated the four AC (autocalesa) World War II surplus jeeps plying the Brookside and Trancoville routes.
Every night they would remit the 60 percent share for the operator to mother but when she was too busy cooking dinengdeng, kaldereta or hamonada, I would receive the share and once in a while, and the naughty kid as I was, would get 10 or 15 centavos to sustain my Coke and “tira-tira” candies from the neighbor’s Lomibao store.
Meals were as simple as it can be; boiled sayote from the backyard, adobong camote leaves or boiled camote, banana turon, tuyo or tinapa, and eating tocino from Moncada, Tarlac was a feast.
Once in a while, we would ride in an Oldsmobile, go to Ah-Kong’s Dainty Restaurant where we would order pancit canton, police rice, fried chicken, and a favorite sweet and sour shrimp.
Every Christmas, manang Marcelo would send us calendars with a round fruit cake which was served during Noche Buena. Meantime, papa would look into the menu board because posted below are the winning numbers of the jueteng draw and more or less I am pretty sure he has bet on his favorite numbers. “Mas mura mag-alaga ng numero kesa sa baboy,” so he says.
Our happy place was Slaughter where the feast was pinapaitan, imbaliktad, kilawin or tinuno with Dracula’s favorite – blood. There was also a carinderia along the jeepney line in front of Juliana’s Apartment where the igado and adobo were the best and of course the pork chops at the 2nd floor of the market was mouth watering!
Every 4th of July, we would visit John Hay and go to Halfway House for steaks, cheeseburgers, and slot machines or to the 19th Tee where the ice cream, not sure if it was Coney Island, was heavenly. Below of course was the bar where booze lover-father would jam with his friends. The main club was there but since we could not afford the price, we would stay where we are and be happy, learn to be satisfied with what you have, again he says.
Clothes were not fashionable, as there were no branded ones – khaki and white shirt for the kids, father went to work in blue pants and white shirt. Shoes was “ang tibay” and pants was maong which had a brand name “Let’s go” stitched at its back.
Once I had a yearning for a moccasin shoe displayed at the window of Valirams Department Store beside Pines Theater. Its price tag was P35, which was then expensive or the politically correct term, unaffordable, so I just stared at it everyday until it vanished, sold to a luckier kid.
Vacation meant going for a visit at Manaoag Church, the hot spring in Asin or beach in Bauang, relatives in Vigan or my parents’ hometown on All Saints’ Day. Manila was out of the question while Hong Kong was never. Nunca!
There were no Louis Vuitton, Prada or Hermes. No Shopee or Lazada. No Facebook, X (Twitter). Every 6 o’clock, the siren at City Hall would stop and everyone and every vehicle would stop and pray the Angelus. I actually authored an ordinance to bring it back like the good old days.
How I wish the complications of life that we have now would disappear and a time machine would bring us back to when life was simpler – “Vivir la vida lo más simple posible, disfrutaelaire, enamórate, séfelizlive” – living as simple as possible. Enjoy the air, fall in love, be happy!
Sigh.