My Filipino Heart: Going back in the 90′s
Living in a different country won’t make me turn away from you. I may be here but my heart is completely yours. Some people can quickly forget you, but not me, for I have a Filipino heart. When people ask me why I can’t let you go, I’d take them here, back in the summer of the 90′s..
I sat with my siblings and cousins in the living room as we watched the morning show on television. I placed my cup of Milo (chocolate drink) on the table, with my pandesal with star margarine spread or sometimes filled with Milo!
“Bawat bata may tanong, Ba’t ganito, Bat gano’n? Hayaang buksan ang isipan sa science o agham. Tayo na sa sineskwela, Tuklasin natin ang siyensiya, Buksan ang pag-iisip, Tayo’y likas na scientist!”. When this tune comes we get really excited and we knew that it’s the start of a good morning. Same goes for Batibot, Hiraya Manawari, Bananas and Pyjamas and Bayani. I remember I really liked Bayani, it’s about two young kids who goes back in time to meet our national heroes and influential people in the past. It takes me back to the times how Filipinos fought for our country, how they lived and how hospitable and patriotic they were. As a kid that time, I was really impressed and I learned a lot because it felt like I was there with them too. We spent our early mornings like that and it was really fun and educational, plus we got to spend time together as a family.
When we finished watching, we eagerly went back to our rooms and prepared our tuwalya, dry clothes and swimming stuff. This was the most exciting part of the day because like every other children, swimming on the beach is the best thing ever!. “Maliligo na kami sa dagat!” ,we all said with excitement and impatience on our faces. They wouldn’t let us go without a guardian and would always say, “Huwag kayong pupunta roon ‘pag wala kayong kasamang matanda“. I understand it’s for our own safety. So when everything and everyone were ready, we headed to the beach!
As we walked, we looked for seeds that looked like eyes, we called it mata-mata and collected it and whoever has more seeds, he/she wins. We also looked for gray-coloured seeds that are round-shaped so that we can use it for playing sungka, a traditional game in the Philippines that I really enjoy. There’s also the talisay tree where we usually break the seeds with a rock so we could see the nuts inside it. It’s obvious we like seeds huh? hehe or probably just curious about things because we were kids.
And there it was, in the distance we can see the sparkling morning sea. We ran towards it as fast as we could, took our slippers off with speed and jumped into the fresh clear water. Waaah, it was so refreshing! I can still feel the awesome feeling and it always put a smile on my face. Everytime we go for a swim we would show one other our swimming skills and backstrokes and have a race to see who swims the fastest. We would hold our breaths underwater and see who could hold it the longest. We would just have fun and enjoy the water and the sunshine and the clear blue sky that you see when you do a back float. It was a priceless feeling.
It’s already noon which means it’s time to go back for lunch, we have to rinse and change into our dry clothes. We can smell the food already; grilled fish and ginataang langka! Mmmm.. with mainit na kanin.. sarap!. After we’ve eaten, it’s siesta time! It’s the time where we have to relax, watch TV, take a nap, listen to the neighbor’s rooster going tiktilaok! , not to wake us up but to make us fall asleep. Though the elders tell us to go to sleep, we usually don’t listen because we didn’t see the point at that time. They said it will make us grow tall, mmm tempting.. but as a kid, I preferred to play outside, it was our opportunity to look for adventure. All the kids were playing outside while their parents, Lola, Lolo, Auntie and Tito were sleeping and resting.
During siesta times, we would go out and pick indian mangoes and sometimes climb trees because it’s always fun being able to climb and see things from a height. We would take possessions of the branches and say, “Ako lang dito, huwag kang pupunta dito” It is very childish but it is very fun. We would also ask our Aunt’s permission if we can have some of her ripened kakaw in her backyard. She would always say yes but tells us not to throw the seeds away because she will use it to make cocoa. She told us to put it in a bilao (a round container made of bamboo wood) and let the seeds dry in the sun. Then we would play tagu-taguan (hide and seek), tumbang preso (hitting a can with a slipper on top), slipper game (similar to baseball but it’s done by kicking the slipper), sili-sili maanghang, patintero, langit lupa, luksong tinik, step no and more traditional Filipino games. When we’re tired we would rest for a few minutes then take a walk to the beach, collect sea shells by the shore or find umang then make a race track for them to have a race. But some days we would stay indoors and play bahay-bahayan and use the blanket as our roof , then we would buy bread and chips (Humpy Dumpy, Tomi or cheese corn) to have food for our house, then appoint who will be the father, mother and the kids for our family. It’s really fun and even though I’m a young adult now, I’d definitely do them again. Kid at heart Hehe
After siesta time, the elders are now awake and getting ready with their afternoon chores. The fathers went out to sea to catch fish and will be back by evening. The mothers stayed at home or prepared their stalls to sell halo-halo, barbecue, banana cue, kakanin or fish balls! This was the time when kids are getting excited again, food!. We stayed in the stall and watched eagerly how our Tita, Mama or Lola cook the delicious merienda (snacks) and we would help them, and of course our hidden motive was to get some free snacks and free taste! We listened to their stories about their past experiences and stories about our parents when they were young or little. I was listening attentively while eating my halo-halo that only cost 7 pesos and I was really pleased. It was a bonding between the children and the elders, it was a nice and inspiring atmosphere.
As the sun slowly goes down, we helped them unpack the things from the stall and moved them back to the house. Then they fed their chickens as we asked permission to go back to the sea to see the low tide. They would always say yes and would get us when it gets dark. I guess they let us go because a lot of people go there at that time; children and mothers, people of all ages. It’s a daily routine and I’ve known why.
When the tide is low you would see a different view of the sea. It wasn’t the glistening and sparkling sea water that amazes you but it’s the beautiful life in it. I saw the sea creatures living in it; hiding underneath the rocks, behind the sea weeds or taking their quick escape under the sand. I’ve seen an angel fish with my own eyes, a blow fish, an octopus that swam so fast and disappeared quickly in the corals and rocks. And yes, the corals were just beautiful! They were like colorful flowers but in the sea. There were little fishes, spider-like sea creatures and many more that I don’t know the name. We had little sticks to poke them with, in case they bite. “It’s a wonderful world” ,I thought. We had our own discovery of life in the sea and I was so amazed. And as a kid, that was an extraordinary feeling; being able to touch it, see it and experience it.
The crickets’ noise can now be heard from a distance telling us that it’s getting dark and it’s a warning that we should go back home. Sometimes at this time, when we don’t go to see the low tide we would play with a salagubang (a big brown bug), and tie it with a string and make it fly by swinging it back and forth. Thinking back as a kid it was really fun playing with it because I could keep the bug and make it fly, but thinking about it now, it’s a bit cruel and makes me think.. poor thing :/. Sometimes we would stay with our Lola and listen to pinoy radio dramas. My favourite one was called Kapitan Pinoy, and it’s the only one I can clearly remember because it was really cool. Oh and Tiya Deli!
The sun has set and the day has turned into darkness and the elders were now busy preparing food for dinner. I came out with my Tita to the shore again to meet her husband who has come back from fishing. He caught enough fish for dinner. It was so interesting to see the fishes and I wished I could come with him fishing out there sometime. He pulled his boat or bangka out of the water with the help of his friends, then we made our way back home.
Hours later we finished eating and watched cartoons again most of the evening. That was for us kids, but the elders gathered in the sala and watched foreign dramas dubbed in Tagalog. Korean dramas weren’t popular yet but Spanish dramas were, I think they are Spanish anyway (correct me if I’m wrong :P). I remembered the drama was called, Rosalinda, the woman with the red rose on her hair who lives near the sea. Almost all women in my family, my Lola and mga Tita were pretty addicted to it. That was entertainment for everyone in the evening and we had no choice sometimes but to watch it too.
It’s now time to sleep so we brushed our teeth and washed our feet. We put the kulambo (mosquito net) around our bed and tucked it underneath so the mosquitoes can’t bite us when we’re asleep. Sometimes me and my sister would stay up until midnight to watch TV. We would make a cup of Milo and get some biscuits and we would start our movie marathon. I remembered one night as everyone was asleep and the light was dim, we saw a firefly. It made a big smile on my face; I’ve always wanted to see one and there it was! Right in front of my eyes! It was awesome!
Do you remember those times? I do, still do. Philippines, you are a wonderful paradise and forever will be. You have a great culture and have a very rich tradition. You have God-fearing, hard-working and talented people. You are my inspiration and my foundation.
When people ask me why I can’t let you go.. I’d tell them, I love Philippines and put my hand on my heart.