Monday, 1 July 2013

A MINI HISTORY::Once upon a time in a neighborhood in Parang

The Tulingan/Artista St in Parang, Mambulao, CamNorte. 

The old home of the Hernandez Family in Parang ... No. 230-A Parang, Mambulao.


OUR ANCIENT home in Parang, Mambulao responded to the address No. 230-A Parang, Mambulao. That simple.

And even when the baranggay system turned upside down the street numbering scheme in our ancient barrio under the set up instituted by the Marcos regime during the 60s, the postman still knew where to find us.

That's how the family name "Hernandez" got stuck in their psyche, delivering our stuff without fail, beginning in the early 50s.

But this was not to happen immediately.

OUR young family -- mom was 25, father 27, and me 4, Helen 3, Susan 1 and Arnel just a baby -- relocated to this part of barrio Parang in 1952.

Father lost a measly-paying job at the Paracale gold mines; he managed to bounce back soon enough with an employment in Larap as a mechanic (in between two jobs, he moonlighted as kabodero, coconut farmer and small-time fisherman when the goings went tough).

The logical relocation site was Parang, which was open to whoever would want to call it home.

Our invasion was paved by Nana Ising, father's elder and only sister, and her hubby Tata Juanito Aragon, then a popular albularyo- comadrona-musikero rolled into one, who played the violin and the trumpet; he also sang the cantata during religious processions.

The couple had been in this place for quite some time. As they grew roots here, they raised their first five children - kuya cesar, ate heleng, ate Fe, Emilia and Jose.

Still in his elementary grade years, Kuya Cesar took care of me as his friend and ally, and taught me a lot of “katarantaduhan” only a “uhugin” kid like me would be willing to learn about.

Tatay, pressed to set up home ASAP, built our first dwelling -- a nipa house at that -- right at the back of Nana Ising's, with only a meter of gap between two walls (of nipa, of course). Nana Ising’s house fronted the sandy, dusty road.

But Tatay saw the wisdom of making a home at the back of her sister’s house although there were many available slots by the roadside - because right at the back of that bahay-kubo of ours was a huge frontier for the taking - although it was then overwhelmed by bush and trees and all sort of a jungle you normally expected in a place like Parang – a suitable habitat for the snakes and bayawaks and the fabled “aswang” and “engkanto”.

As soon as father -- he was called Jimmy by peers -- got the time off from work, he immediately hammered down stakes, and fenced in a wide area -- which is now what we got inside that yellow fenced compound in the picture – a modest space of a prime property 24 meters by 25 meters.

About 20 years ago, our parents obtained a title to this property, with half of it in my name – from the front to the back -- to the sheer disgust and dismay of some moneyed people who hovered over this lot like vultures, thinking our parents were too poor to continue keeping it that way.

They were dead wrong, of course, because I was around to spoil their day.

PARANG was a former coconut hacienda owned by Don Ramon Adea, who, I was told, was the first mayor of Mambulao in his younger days.

The good landowner resided in a modest house at the foot of a mountain on the outskirts of his coconut plantation, just a stone’s throw away from the shoreline of Mambulao Bay.

The close to a hundred hectares of coconut land making up Parang was crawling with red cows, dirty-furred sheep, stinking goats and carabaos that helped haul coconuts from the plantation to several huge koprahans scattered around the hacienda.

Parang, in short, was practically under the coconut trees.

The sandy-dusty road passing our ancient home ended on the edge of the bumpy Larap road, and across was the original main gate of the JP high school campus.

Its other end linked up with the main road of the barrio – also a sandy stretch from Larap road to the bridge that connected Parang to the Poblacion.

On the right corner of this junction was a small store then owned by the Rodrigo family, whose house sat next to a huge wooden house owned by the Ramosos, where a Kapre was believed to be the resident-scare.

In front of the Rodrigo store across the road was another store owned by the Valenzuelas, whose son Alex was my boyhood friend.

So everyday, students paraded this road after classes on their return to Mambulao poblacion, which was 1.5km away. And as they did, they would stir up the dust from the sand with their bakya or shoes -- if they had one -- while covering noses.

When we first settled here in 1952, our house was one for the few that dotted the area.

The space between bakurans was overwhelmed by bush and grass. The common access to each house was the sandy road, which, during those days, was quite wide (the present cemented one was just about a third of the original size).

But then, as Larap boomed, some families whose men landed jobs in the mines found their way in Parang and set up homes, with many opting to settle away from our neighborhood -- in spots where they could have bigger yards in the middle of the coconutlandia

But as our kalsada morphed into a bustling neighborhood, more and more everyday activities came up, such as a family fencing their bakuran with bakawan, bamboo and other bush timber. We had our own laguerta fenced in, keeping our baboy, pato and manok within its confine.

Once in a while, every afternoon on weekends, our street would clone one of Amorsolo's barrio paintings: a row of nipa huts from one end of the street to the other, smokes billowing from several heaps of basura burning by the roadside, pigs big and small, dogs, white ducks (pato), chickens, dogs and kids mingling in the middle of the road, while women broomed their front yards with coconut midribs (walis-tinting); along the road by the yard fence were young men chopping firewood while somewhere nearby, a group of elderly huddling by themselves as they talked about the weather and where to get a day-old tuba (coconut nectar) with “tangal” for the night’s drinking spree.

Life was easy – no electric bills to pay as our homes were lit by kerosene milk-can lamps and no pestering Bombay collecting from their 5-6 loans.

Now, there's one little open secret in our sandy roadside neighborhood about which no-one fussed or feel concerned: only two or three among the households had a toilet! And they did not include ours.

But everybody adapted quite well to the situation just like adapting to the rainy days.

When we wanted to relieve ourselves - whether it was sunny or storming -- we would have to walk 600 meters or so towards the edge of the "niyugan", where the “pakatan” was, just next to that giant santol tree, or into some bushy spots under the coconut trees where we could have some privacy for a few minutes while communing with nature.

On stormy days, going there was a risk because of those nuts falling all over the place while you’re at it. But it was also good as we could have lots of “mura” (buko) and “niyog na panggata”, which we picked up after our little business in the bush.

You would notice that something was going on by the thin smoke rising from the thick branches -- the one sitting there was smoking, or blowing smoke to shoo away tiny mosquitoes called "nek-nek" that could give you unwanted nasty reddish sting bites.

So, as a sort of courtesy, we veered our way towards another direction, to where the air was clear of smoke, while hearing a faint “uhhh… uhhh” and “ahem” from somewhere to politely warn you: Somebody’s crapping around here … stay away!

And most of the time, your clandestine presence behind the bush would be given away as soon as you're settled -- by those awful pigs! grazing around the plantation.

Noticing that you were up to something on your way to the sacred rendezvous -- they would spring to give you a slow chase, would hang around, or worst, would try to snatch from under what you had just heaped, so that you would have to “move on” inch by inch, to the next available spot clear of landmines.

This scenario went on for quite sometime, which was later made fun of by the "libreng sine" brought to the village by the Department of Health, which showed to the people the importance of having a toilet at home, after running a 30-minute filmstrip depicting village people – ala-cartoon strip - crapping in the bush land.

Later, my father (bless his soul) had the better sense to erect a toilet in our backyard - it was a drum pit type which could be flushed after use. With this, our neighbors who had men in the family working in Larap followed suit, and built theirs.

One problem in our neighborhood was water. Although Don Ramon built a water pipeline network across Parang, it was catered only to families willing to chip in … and that included us.

So what these water-less folks did was punctured the steel pipe about 3 inches in diameter and plugged it. At night fall, they would unplug the hole for water to jet-spurt high, letting it dive into the kerosene cans. This water-stealing would last till midnight, when every home in our neighborhood had its fill.

Later, my mother made friends with Don Ramon, who later allowed father to tap from the main pipe so we could have our own faucet in the backyard. (It was Don Ramon who encouraged my mom to plant our small farm in Pinagbirayang Munti with coconuts, while “your children are young, so that when they needed money for school, you would have something to dig on” … which she and Tatay did later.)

Mother paid a monthly rate of fifty centavos, which was not at all a bother because she let our neighbors and those living in the middle of the hacienda fetched water for 25 centavos a month. Good business sense, indeed.

Those who cannot afford the rate supplied us with “sagmaw”, or “kaning-baboy” (hogwash) which I picked up every afternoon in a small kerosene can, using my little push cart.

Those days, our pet pigs had grown in number alongside our chicken and “pato”, which we let to roam the neighborhood without being bothered by anyone. We needed more feedstuff to keep our herd going.

Interestingly, nanay did not do our laundry with water from the faucet.

She and her neighborhood amigas and friend-gossips went to “kina Legaspi” – a farm where a brisk-flowing brook that originated from the mountainside behind the cemetery next to the JPHS campus ground served as their laundry tub-hub. In fact, it was here where Don Ramon’s water pipe network drew water for Parang households.

One day, we got an urgent intel: that the municipal sanitary inspector’s men were rounding up stray pigs around Parang and that they were heading straight to our place.

One good thing with neighborhood camaraderie … our kapitbahays immediately chased our animals, whom they cornered under their houses and hauled them off to our “bakuran” before the pig-chasers could show up with their ropes and haul pickup.

OVER the next three years till I entered Grade 1 at the mountainside-perched elementary school in Mambulao (everybody from Parang went to this school), the spaces along that street were filled up gradually by homes of new settlers, a number of them from Bicol.

And because of this, I gradually picked up the Bicol dialect from my playmates which, I later knew, was the bastardized Bicol known as the Bicol-Daet.

It was not surprising as our neighborhood became a converging ground for the Visaya, Ilocano, Tagalog and Bicol dialects, which we kids picked up quite handily and spoke well without really knowing how it came about.

The coming of electricity to our street made life a bit better for many and the household that acquired the first electric radio became an instant celebrity.

Five nights a week, housewives, kids and bored husbands glued themselves by the door and windows of the house owner to listen expectantly to the unfolding radio drama show, and would react once in a while – with hand gestures -- to what they thought was happening to the characters.

Our street, which became known simply as Parang Road -- hence our postal address 230-A Parang (Nana Ising’s house was the No. 230) – remained sandy and dusty, but teeming with life, with human activities especially towards the afternoon when the entire kingdom was just bumming as it awaited the sun to go to bed.

Here, young boys and girls were either playing “patintero” or “bilding” – that young girls’ bakya play -- in all their excitement, while some noisy men pitted their warrior cocks against each other for a quick brawl in preparation for the weekend “tupada” at a cockpit in the town of Labo.

And the usual spectacle of heaps of garbage by the roadside aflame or lazily smoking was a matter of course for a neighborhood where garbage collection was never heard of yet.

But the sheer confusion on this road would rather fade into a faint whisper once that battalion of noisy flesh began pouring out of the high school campus gate and headed to the inner sanctum of our two-lane community, with suffocating dust in tow, swirling up from the ground where their dirty, busy feet struck.

Mid-Saturday morning would be an occasion for wives and kids to be out in the yards doing some chores such as clearing the rubbish around the house or for young men to sweat it out heavily as they split firewood from thick tree-trunks pulled by carabaos into the roadside.

It was one morning such as this when the seamless din of human activities was suddenly punctured by a sharp “putang-ina mo, maldita ka…!” and instantly, every pair of eyes hurled fierce looks towards the source of the sharp rebuke, where a commotion was already unfolding.

As a young kid, I would be quick to respond to this kind of crisis, especially when I had sensed there would be some action – as in fighting, or wrangling.

I was not mistaken, though, but to my great shock and horror, as one of the two cat-fighting women was no-one else but my mother.

And before I could blink for a closer look, they tumbled to the ground, rolled over each other once or twice, with mom on top briefly, only to topple in a flash to the ground under her foe, while fiercely clawing at each other’s face and trying to uproot each other’s head.

A macho-man who was passing by sprung to wedge himself between my mom and her “kalaban” until they were safe from each other’s deadly claws.

My mother’s adversary was my playmate’s mom whose house – they owned a big, galvanized-roofed house – was located behind one that fronted the left side of the road if you’re heading to the high school gate.

Funny, I never came to know the bone of Mother’s grudge against Tyang Aida, although she warned me never to play with his son again, ever. (I intend to ask Nanay about it once I got a chance to call her this weekend, and crossing my fingers, I hope she would still remember what the quarrel was all about. Mind you, Nanay’s 86!)

WHEN Nana Ising’s family decided to quit Parang to settle for good at their coconut farm in Pinagbirayang Munti, a barrio in Paracale, they also tore down their nipa house, giving us a bigger front yard and of course a panoramic view of the sandy road.

Nana Ising farm was adjacent to my father’s; their properties those days were under one land title inherited from their parents.

Wasting no time, Tatay did immediately enclose our bakuran with bakawan and bamboo and made it a point to extend our “frontier” to the vacant dirt yard next to ours, which, it seemed to us those days, was simply ignored by new settlers.

With this, we were practically occupying two wide home lots by the roadside, which we filled with fast-growing vegetables such as patola, talong, sitaw, petsay, ampalaya, and upo, to name a few. Our “nipa’ hut became a “bahay-kubo”!

In later months, these crops gave us some extra cash, affording us to buy every Sunday a slice of pork belly (worth 40 centavos) from mother’s meat vendor friend Tyong Simon at the town market.

Nanay also made use of the big space in front of the house by growing several types of bougainvillas, which became a craze those days among young women and housewives for their colorful flowers. Like mom, they loved raising flowering plants on pots.

Of course, they were a source of extra money as well. We never run out of fresh planting stocks as Tatay, once in a while, managed to snatch a branch or two of rare bougainvillas from the yards of some staff houses occupied by the expatriate executives at the Philippine Iron Mines in Larap.

This he did whenever he took off from the night shift on his way to the terminal where a shuttle bus waited for off duty workers like him and going home to Mambulao and Parang.

WHILE I was doing a lot of growing to prime my self to the demands of elementary school work, I also focused my eyes on many pets that roamed around our yards.

They were playmates, no doubt about it, I chased on occasion along the road for the sheer fun of it to the delight of mothers who were parked by the gates of one of the compounds, gossiping with one another.

For one, I had “Puti”, a “tandang” that resembled the rooster San Pedro loved to cuddle while managing the affairs of Heaven.

Puti, as we soon learned, was gifted; many of the “sabungeros” in our neighborhood described him as “suwerte”, and therefore, he was a winner. He came out from one of the hatchings under our house a few months back.

A big fowl wearing a jacket of pure, white plume, Puti’s legs were adorned with scales that showed some “sinyales” suggesting “luck” for anyone who would groom him as a cockpit brawler.

I would cuddle him for most of the time as I sat by the gate of our bakuran when school was off, and showed off to my playmates once in a while, his two legs where those lucky scales shone.

One morning, just like I would do after getting up from our floor sleeping mat (banig), I would, as I a habit I acquired from being close to my pet cock, immediately check him under the house through a big square opening in our bamboo slat floorings.

And seeing him and hearing his enthusiastic crowing, I would reach out by bending through that hole so I could touch and pet him briefly. This was our official ritual on mornings when I did not have to worry about school.

But that ONE morning was a real shocker.

When I tried to reach for his white plumage while he was picking some grains, he suddenly sprung to a startled jump away from my touch, and tried to let loose from his leash.

What’s going on? I asked him and myself as well. His surprised evasive reaction truly shocked me, for we had been together since Day One after he broke egg, and now I seemed to be a dangerous flesh-eating zombie, instead of a buddy.

I went to mom, told her what happened and cried, confused as to why Puti shunned me.

Without a sound, mother just went about cooking breakfast. Father was in the bedroom, still asleep as he came home late from the second shift the night before.

Persistent and still puzzled, I went back to Puti. This time, I slid under the house where we kept our fowls – ducks and chickens – during the night, and half-crawled towards Puti, who was scratching the ground for food. Seeing me, he violently sprung away, pulling hard at the leash on his foot while making a beleaguered noise.

After another try, I gave up and went back to the house without saying anything to mother, who tried to talk to me about something … I think it was about a puppy that I had wanted to raise as a pet, too.

The next morning, I tried again. To my big surprise, Puti quickly cooed, clucked-clucked and flapped his giant wings as I approached him and did the rite of picking on my palm as if it was holding corn grains.

My excitement exploding, I slowly cuddled him up with my left hand and ruffled his feathers just like what I used to do. Oh, OMG, how I missed my Puti!

We’re friends again!

One morning, I was surprised to see a smooth, handsome cream-colored puppy slumbering under the dining table. Afraid to startle and rise him up, I tiptoed away him and went straight to Nanay, who was building a fire on our dirty kitchen.

“Nanay … may tuta ho sa ilalim ng lamesa … kanino ho ‘yon..?”

“Uwi ni Itay kagabi … di ba gusto mong magkaroon ng tuta? … ayon, kaya inuwian ka niya … bigay daw ng boss niya…”

That one sent me straight on Cloud 9!

Well, Wigan turned out to be a giant of a dog, this time pampered by light-brown fur, and one of the two or three ever seen in Parang.

Growing to about 3ft tall, he boasted of a backside that could sit a glass without dropping it while he walked.

With a wailing bark that boomed with authority, he could easily intimidate any dog within sight; those that usually mingled with one another along the road would break away upon seeing him coming, their tails curled to their asses.

But Wigan was a very domesticated animal and everybody had wanted to pet him, hold him. For all you know, he loved human bodily warmth as well, a little pleasure he had first known from me.

And I was proud enough to have trained him carry in his big and sturdy mouth a rattan basket (na pamalengke) from the house to the town market, and back, this time with a heavy load of fish, vegetables and other foodstuff for our Sunday meals.

Not wanting to be delayed in his errand to deliver mother’s foodstuff home, Wigan would not take the sandy Parang road on his way home to avoid dogs that were just bumming around along the way.

Instead, he detoured to the Parang beach as soon as he crossed the narrow wood bridge that spanned the fish-rich mangrove river separating Mambulao and my barrio, and headed straight home, tracing the edge of the beach next to the rippling clear water.

At age 10, Wigan succumbed to a cancerous lump that sent him to a slow painful death. For about a week, he cried a muffled yip in one corner of the house, while the deadly outgrowth in his chest the size of a duck egg throbbed and throbbed.

Our family wept hard over our loss, for Wigan was more than just a pet to us – especially to me. To honor Wigan, the next puppies who came to join our family were named after him.

Puti, who fathered countless batches of chicks for a length of time I couldn’t recall any longer, died from a nasty cold following a fowl disease outbreak in Parang, despite mother’s effort to treat him with medication. Half of our flock was wiped out as an aftermath.

During those days when Wigan was growing fast, mom told me something about Puti and my puppy.

She said: Nakita ng boss ni Itay si Puti at gusto niya itong alagaan para pangsabong ... pero alam ni Itay na hindi ka papayag .. kaya ang ginawa niya ay pinalitan niya si Puti ng isang kahawig na manok at kasama ring kapalit yung tuta na si Wigan …”

“Pero, inaway ko si Tatay kasi lagi ka na lang umiiyak dahil ayaw kang lapitan ni Puti …”

Nanay told me that the following night when I was asleep, he slipped back Puti into the house and took away the “fake” one and returned it to his boss. However, his boss said that I could have the puppy for my pet.

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD road must have seen all sorts of people -- whether they were those who lived along its 400 meter stretch or ones who were just passing by as they pursued life, from fish vendors to occasional beggars who called on all compound gates praying for a small amount of rice, which she carried in her “bayong na buri”.

But maybe not, anyway. Because one of the thousands of human beings who paced this dusty road turned out to be a thief – the one who came in from the dead of the night to help himself with a thing or two from a slumbering household.

We never knew, or the neighborhood knew, that in our midst was a man who fed his young family from things he stole night after night.

The culprit was discovered without him knowing it by a neighbor, who happened to be the owner of the house where he and his family of two kids rented a room.

I still can remember this old woman’s name – Tyang Edi - who operated a sari-sari store just two houses away from ours.

“He came home after midnight, carrying a sack stuffed with things,” Tyang Edi told mother, recalling that she was peeping through a tiny hole on the wall that separated her bedroom and the rented room.

I was within earshot and wondered what kind of tsimis it was.

As the man fished out the sack’s contents, Tyang Edi could not believe her eyes! This moment, he was sorting out a blackened “kaldero” still half-filled with boiled rice, pieces of canned sardines, some nice-looking plates, kaserola, glasses, clothes, handbags, leather shoes and even a bottle of cooking oil.

However, despite all of what she had witnessed, Tyang Edi just shut her mouth, confiding only to Nanay those things about her tenant, whose wife happened to be a relative of hers.

Anyway, we just learned that the thieving father and his family had moved out from their rented room to another place in town, and for Nanay, it was that all that really mattered.

DESPITE the coming of electricity to our neighborhood from the power plant at Calogcog, the ancient tube radio had remained scarce as it was very costly, depriving mothers those popular radio drama series that included “Ito Ang Inyong Kuya Cesar” “Ako Po Ang Inyong ….. Tiya Dely!” and other radio soaps, whose shrieking and weeping characters spawned many listeners from among many women neighbors.

During dead hours after lunch when there were not much things to do, many bored mothers including Nanay buried their noses on komiks, rented out by four to six small neighborhood sari-sari stores.

And funny, just two houses from ours across the road was a small tindahan that also doubled as “karehan” for the students in the nearby high school and at noon, at least five to seven young men would busy themselves with their meals while browsing the contents of a newly arrived Pilipino Komiks and Tagalog Klasiks. (I remember this store being owned by Mang Kalbo/Mr Clean Entera, then later by Tyang Lina Delfinado. The others were ran by Tyang Edi, the Juance family, the Aragon (Amado) family and at least two more whose owners I could no longer recall.)

A popular rendezvous for habitual school-evaders, this one store had almost all the titles for komiks and popular vernacular magazines such as the Liwayway, Kislap Magazine, Banawag and Hiligaynon. I myself would on occasion spend lazy hours in this store to the dismay of my mother who discovered that I was giving more time reading all sorts of adult “wakasan” stories than pouring on my home works.

At night, these stores would be lit by bright electric bulbs, drawing a number of fathers and mothers who huddled for the latest tsismis around the neighborhood and beyond.

And it did not surprise that such a nightly chat about the day’s events had made their lives richer, their camaraderie closer -- very typical of a laid back community such as my neighborhood.

Events such as this one:

Sometime around the mid-60s, we were thrown into a wild excitement as one drama spectacle unfolded early in the night when we were about ready for bed.

Tyong Inteng (not his real name), was pacing back and forth in front of a wooden house (where the residence of the Subaco family now sits at the end of Tulingan road).

Like a wounded wolf, he was howling at the top of his voice: “Putang-ina mo Ador (not his real name) … lumabas ka dyan… traydor kang hayop ka … papatayin kita, ‘tang-ina mo …!”

At the end of his right hand was a “sinampaluk”, one of the popular bolos (itak) used by farmers, which he waved in the air once in a while, as if hacking away an imaginary foe.

Tyong Inteng lived with his wife Hulia (not her real name) in the adjacent house at a big compound now occupied by the Baratita family home.

Within a few minutes, our neighbors began streaming in towards where the commotion was taking place and formed a half-circle just a few meters from the spot where Tyong Inteng was violently emoting with his still unclear issue. They were as if watching a village skit being acted out.

The front yard was well-lit by a huge bright “bombilya” jutting from the house’s wall, affording us a fairly clear view of this angry man.

Indeed, it was reminiscence of a recent movie shoot done by Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa in the high school campus and at the residence of Don Ramon for the film “Bahala Na…” directed by Manuel Conde, Sr.

While Tyong Inteng was at it, speculations went around among the spectators who came from far and near as to why the man was so incensed and was spoiling to murder his neighbor, a widower, and long-time friend.

It turned out that Ador and Hulia were among a close-knit of “Sotang Bastos” card players composed of idled and bored housewives and the card game was played almost every afternoon right in the house of Ador, who kept the “bangka”.

A small-time businessman in town, Ador could afford to bum around with bored housewives over an equally boring card game.

Overtime, Ador and Hulia became close and quite intimate right under the nose of their playmates, who of course, were not that naive.

Then one night, as the story went, when Inteng was at the farm (I remember it was in Tumbaga, San Rafael) and could not come home for the night, the lovers made a tryst right there in Ador’s bed.
During those days when the clandestine affair was abloom, Hulia was observed to be in her best look -- always – with all sort of kolorete in her face; she wore a scent of lingering cheap perfume.

But Tyong Inteng was not that stupid as he got wind of their sexploits after a while. So, one day he went to the farm after telling his wife that he was staying overnight for a number of work first thing in the morning.

On that fateful night while Ador’s mattress was aflame with passion, the poor man popped right in the front yard of his house, armed with a sharp “sinampaluk”, and made scene rivaling those that we came to watch on TV soaps in later years.

Hulia hurriedly slipped out of the lover’s house in her underwear and all -- through the backdoor and dashed to her house, according to one who noticed her crossed the darkened narrow walkway between the two houses while the husband made noise in the front yard.

It involved our barrio captain, Mang Doming -- nanay’s close ally in the neighborhood -- to settle the scandal. Then, one day, we learned that the couple left our neighborhood, fanning some more persistent “tsismis” spawned by the scandal.

Some 33 years ago in 1980 when I made my first return to Parang after being away for 10 years, having vanished myself in Metro Manila after getting myself a wife, a son and a grueling newspaper job that deprived my family of quality time with me, I was startled to see a place not the one that was home to my restless childhood.

The laid back community along Kalye Artista (now Tulingan St) or the former Parang Street that stretched out from the ancient Parang bridge to the Larap road in front of the high school campus, was no more.

In its place were all sorts of structures – from the modest to the ugly -- that made up the homes of new families who came next to relocate after I disappeared from the scene.

Our old, lonely compound is still there, of course, graced by an old home whose early versions (at least four or five of them over the past 60 years) saw my boyhood days unfurled into one that lacked the certainty of a moneyed future.

True, life was a ball mill that I went through just to survive and see what the next day had to offer. And all this I saw.

And as they had often said, a neighborhood such the one we nourished into a mother home so that those who willed to live for another day would find the bone that would prop up their expectations, will always emerge a survivor to continue offering her bosoms to those who needed the warmth most.

The road amidst our neighborhood – the Artista-Tulingan Street – will always be here for those who will come next to call this place their heaven, or hell.

And that yellow-painted “kubo-kubo” at compound No. 230-A Parang, Mambulao, would still be around.

Well, perhaps in another 100 years.

No. 230-A Parang, Mambulao
June 22, 2013

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