recollections pt. 2
spending the hours reminiscing
Snatches of memories from 1974 to 1977 were all about going out to the Makati Commercial Center (now the Ayala Malls). The Makati Supermart, Ansons, Rustans. I remember these trips with my mom which would usually start in Quiapo, where she would hear mass at the Santa Cruz church or sometimes Quiapo church. Then we would take the Love Bus to Ayala Avenue and get off at the Makati Commercial Center. This is where Daddy would come for us because he works in an office in Ayala. The high point of these trips is the toys and goodies mommy would buy me or my own pick of chips and candies when she bought groceries at the Makati Supermart (where the Landmark Department Store stands now). While waiting for her to pay for her purchases, I would buy Orange Julius hotdog and drink for dad and myself or whoever else tagged along to fetch us (sometimes daddy would go home first to bring along some of my other sisters). There are times of course when I just couldn't come and of course I refuse to understand why so I throw tantrums. I'd holler and cry, ran after my mom to no avail. Sometimes she's come home and I'd still be in tears and only stop when I get my goodies.
The first film I saw in Quad theater was King Kong with my family, the Jessica Lange version. Another of the earlier films I saw was Champ, starring Ricky Schroder and I think, David Soul. Of course there were a handful of Filipino films I did see at that time, I just don't remember them anymore. Even at that time I enjoyed Hollywood films more than local ones. The Sunday Mass was a family affair, sometimes mommy would stay behind though. Then there were the regular picnics over at Luneta Park of which I totally have no recollection of. We do have a lot of pictures from these times though so there's no denying that we're there.
Moving on to 1977, my first year in school, kindergarten. I remember how everyone pitched in to ask me questions about numbers and letters to prepare me for the interview with the school principal. Mommy taught me the alphabet and basic numbers and colors, and how to write my name. My six elder sisters would quiz me endlessly. In the interview with te school principal Ms. Asenjo, I failed to identify the color of the apple. But of course I got in, there was no question there as all my six siblings were already attending school at Concordia College. When I think about it, school life was pretty lame and quite uneventful. I have always been an above average student, always making it to the Top 10, always elected officer. Not the best but certainly up there with the good ones. I was a natural leader, which could be because of my naturally loud voice or because all the teachers there know me as one of the Maunay siblings. Always at the start of the school year, the teachers would mistake me for one of my sisters. I am usually Minerva, the one who came before me or Lilian, the notorious one.
When you come from a big family like I do and you are the youngest like I am, you are alternately completely taken for granted and smothered with love. All my sisters dote on me some days and they swat me like a bothersome fly on others. Growing up, I never got very close to any of them, my sister May or Minerva was six years older than me. It wasn't until my mid- to late-20s when we all finally understood each other. Before that, I was just a kid, pretty much left to my own devices, but I have tons of friends from high school and college. To sum up my education, I am a moderate achiever, active in extra curricular activities, more streetwise than intelligent, really.
I took up reading very early. My first author was Enid Blyton, my second was Carole Keene. We had volumes of these authors' works at home. There was a good number of hard-bound Nancy Drew books, which I read during my 3rd to 5th grade. I got started on the Sweet Dreams series in 6th grade, starting with the title “P.S. I Love You”, where one of the characters died. Current events was another fascination for me, the news was something to look forward to just because my dad is always tuned in to Harry Gasser's talking head in Channel 9's Newswatch. This is a nightly ritual, my dad would settle down on the sofa sometimes still in his work clothes, his feet atop the lamiseta (center table) and his hands cupping the back of his head. I also took to reading the newspaper because of my dad. Every morning he'd get up really early and read Bulletin Today from cover to cover. After the nightly news Dad would announce dinner and we would all converge on the large narra table that can seat all of us at the same time. During those days, money was not hard. The ref and pantry was stocked up good. Well there wasn't really a pantry, just a couple of shelves nailed to the kitchen wall and we referred to it as the “grocery” as in “Go get the ketchup at the grocery”. One of daddy's nieces lives with us to help out in the household, we dare not call her our maid because she's our first degree cousin, Osang. The rest of her family is in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley (my daddy's hometown). She's the help from heaven, she would do all our laundry, iron them, cook our meals, clean our home under mommy's supervision. Mommy taught her how to cook, my mom could give Nora Daza a run for her money. In my opinion, she's the best darned cook on the face of the earth, even upscale restaurant food can't compare to her dishes. Osang stayed with us until I graduated from college, then she decided to retire.
The summer months were bustling with activity. Every summer, Osang takes a month-long vacation and we'd all be assigned chores which we all loathe and try to shrink from. I think the life we had the rest of the year trained us to become complete sloths. We are always warring over who will do this and who will do that. The house we live in is a two-bedroom rental in Pandacan, Manila. One of the room is for mom and dad, the other is for all seven of us including Osang. We'd sleep on the banig (a floor mat) next to each other and we'd have a mosquito net. We even had cousings from my mommy's side who stayed with us while attending college, they also lie in the mat with us. My second eldest sister, Stella, has her own bed for some reason though. I thought every family lived this way, and didn't find it at all odd. All my life I've been sharing stuff with my sisters, soap, shampoo, toothpaste. I also get a lot of hand-me-downs. Our personal stuff would comprise of pillows and pillowcases, blankets, towels, socks etc. Life was at the same time, simple and complicated. Bathing in the morning is a bitch. I got good at holding my water because more often than not, someone's in the bathroom. No one is ever allowed to complain about the situation, my mom just won't have any of it and daddy, being the only man in the house, must have it worse than all of us.