March 12, 2010

Memories of summers past

A friend blogged about her memories of summers past in Manila. It was so beautifully written that it made me want to write my own summer memories. Not that I can write it as well as she did. Nevertheless, here are my memories.


School ended in March back when I was a kid in the Philippines. It was the start of summer when unbearable heat overpowered Manila. The time when it's better to simply stay indoors, or go somewhere else.

Our mom would tell us to pack up our stuff and head north to Baguio City.

Baguio was always a welcome respite from the heat of Manila. Driving up the meandering Kennon Road, you can feel the temperature change while seeing the mountains, the vegetation and the pine trees.

We had a vacation house in Baguio, but it wasn't located in the "happening" area. If anything, it was the residential area where residents really live. Which was fine with us. I remember when that house was being built. I even have a picture of me outside the yet-to-be-completed house holding up a doll with a big grin on my face.

Anyway, Baguio was so cold that the water was cold, and you breathe foggy air. It was just cold, cold, cold. Bathing was especially challenging because the water was cold. Hot water wasn't readily available, unless you're willing to wait for heated water. Then at some point, there was water shortage that we actually had to buy water, have them delivered, and stored in a round tank outside our house.

Of course, hanging out in Baguio for the summer meant that I was incommunicado with my friends. Our house didn't have a phone. Mass media was unreliable. The working radio was just weird and staticky. And the television? Good luck using that.

So I hung out either outside the house or indoors. We'd sit outside, read books, play board games or just talk away. We'd play dodge ball and volleyball. My mom played a mean dodge ball. My dad, on the hand, practiced his tennis shots. At some point, we started hanging out with our next-door neighbors. We exchanged jokes, and played games such as "patintero" and hide and seek. We'd go biking and boating in Burnham Park, or even horseback riding in Wright Park. To me, Baguio meant outdoor activities.

Indoors, my mom and I played Chinese Checkers. She'd always win, but she explained how she won. She'd retrace her "steps" to victory. Which, I suppose, was her way of teaching me the game. And she was a gracious winner as well. She always told me, "you'd get it next time." When I finally won my first game against her, she beamed with pride. Up until now, I suspect that she let me win.

On rainy days, I'd sit outside and watch the rain. Like, seriously sit and stare as the raindrops fell down. Somehow, I could do that for a long time and not get bored. What a weird child I was. Then again, I can still do that nowadays, and you'd hear no complaints from me. I still love the rain.

We used to walk to the store to buy hot pan de sal. By the time we get back home, the pan de sal would be nearly finished that we'd have to go back and get some more. : ) Then there's my mom tending the garden with those big-ass gardening shears. She had this idea that her Manila garden will be green, while the Baguio garden will be colorful. She'd do her gardening while humming away.

In my teen years, I claimed one of the bedrooms as my own (since I shared a bedroom with my sisters in our Manila home), which served me well when I came down with chicken pox.

Whenever we'd head back to Manila, I always felt sad and short-changed. Like the time spent there was not enough. Which only goes to show how much fun I had. But thankfully, my Mom had other plans. Even when school started, every now and then, she'd make sure to tell us to pack our bags for a weekend getaway in Baguio. Then the cycle of fun began again.