When Danao was my kind of sleepy small town Part 3

Fri, July 5, 2002  1:13 pm

[Note: Originally posted on Kaming Danawanon, Vol VII, No. 5 Oct-Dec 2001.]

A day in the life .  .  . at Grade III, Section 1

A plate of corn grits with buwad or tinabal or inununan (fish) for breakfast would not last till noon. We had to eat again by mid-morning at recess.  If we didn’t, we would be starving before the last period.

While in third grade, five of us were in school, two in college, one high school and another in sixth grade, so it was somewhat a struggle to squeeze a 5¢ ‘baon’ from my Tatay each day.

Suppressing a craving for a snack was not much of a sacrifice, but watching other kids munch food at recess and you weren’t, was some form of torture.

Young kids didn’t want others to get the impression their family was that miserable as not to afford to give a child 5 centavos baon.

Out of necessity, I acquired entrepreneurial skills at age 8. I had to earn at least 25 centavos for a week’s recess allowance.

Yes, Manang Biday, having 5¢ at recess was good enough. You were some big shot then if you had 25¢ in your pocket.

I learned 101 ways to earn 25¢ on a weekend.  Running errands for some neighbors was one easy way, a hard way was rummaging for scrap metal, empty bottles, etc at the town’s many garbage dumps weighed and sold at Marcelina’s backyard for recycling.

The City of Danao started collecting garbage on a daily basis, only in 1963 with jail inmates as unpaid basureros.

Before that time, every backyard in Danao was a garbage dump where kids rummage for anything  they could sale for recycling.

Scavenging one whole Saturday for broken glasses, scrap iron or aluminum, enabled kids to earn 25¢, enough for a week’s baon, Monday through Friday.

Also, some Sundays I could  be at the town’s *censored*pit, not to bet, but look for coins that some drunk and tipsy gamblers had dropped.

A *censored*pit owner, Ruben Derecho’s son, Zoroaster was a friend and classmate, so at anytime I was in and out of the sabungan. His sister, Minviluz, at the entrance, would just let me in without paying the 20¢ admission.

There was no age restriction to enter a *censored*pit; even to bet or wager.  It was a common spectacle at the *censored*pit, small kids along side adult gamblers barking “inilog . . inilog  . .  biya . . . biya”.

No one would ask for IDs or cedula to prove you were old enough to place a bet in a sabong.

Two classmates, Melchor Buot and Zoroaster, were already making bets in the sabungan long before they were cir*censored*cised.

Having learned from a *censored*pit masiador and master *censored* handler, Gavino Capitan, my two market-side buddies had more winning  streak than some older sabungero.

They were good, as well, at the hantakan, and always had the biggest collection of lastiko, playing cards and diolin (marbles).

Despite my constant visit to the *censored*pit, I had not acquired any gambling skills and could not tell a native *censored* from a manok amerikano.  When I got a feeling it was my lucky Sunday, I would ask either Melchor or Zoroaster to make a side-bet, at most 25¢, either at the sabung or  hantak.

More often than not, my money would be doubled, with either Melchor or Zoro placing the bet.

If I lost I would be lurking at a corner during recess salivating for 5 days while other school kids were eating and licking ice-drops.

Although our teachers insisted we bought snacks at the school canteen that sold pan bahaw, most pupils preferred outside vendors.

Our favorite vendor was Mana Ponyang who came to our school each morning with a pushcart filled with  fruits and snackables.

Two big ripe boiled bananas, masi, salbaro, 3 camote  all for 5¢.

Mana Ponyang also had some  garapons in her pushcart filled with piñato, diskotso, bag-ong bayan at no more than 5¢ each.

If we were hungry we would have a good fill from two big boiled bananas.

But our most favorite delicacy of all was Ponyang’s delicious masi.

Although its ingredients were just rice, sugar and peanuts, yet it was so good. No other masi in Danao or Cebu tasted any better.

Mana Ponyang claimed she had a technique in making a good delicious masi but it was her trade secret and was confidential.

But one day a neighbor was telling people, even swore to God it was true, she saw with her eyes Ponyang’s husband, Pamping, a policeman, kneading the masi in his armpit, hence the distinct taste.

The same neighbor further added that Pamping rarely took a bath and used no deodorant.

Since then Pongyang’s masi became unpopular among pupils at the Danao Central School.

No amount of disclaimer that followed got school kids to buying Ponyang’s masi again.

Another favorite recess hang-out among pupils at the Danao Primary school was the corner store of Este-Memoy Cañares.

The store sold a variety of bread and cookies, as well as cold drinks. At 10¢ for a bottle of pepsi or tru-orange, rarely a 3rd grade pupil could afford to have one at recess.

In our class, probably only Rosemary Yray, whose father was a NARIC warehouseman and Antonio Camonggay, son of Egli, the town’s copra buyer, had that much ‘baon’ to afford a cold drink at recess time.

In third grade when Carlos Garcia was president, public schools were recipient of many assistance from the U.S. government, such as books and food items, e.g. skim milk, yellow corn, flour, etc.

Unlike in later years when school and public health officials had become corrupt, who sold donated food for extra income, in 1959 donated food did go and benefit the public.

Government officials then were honest and decent people.

These food items coming from Uncle Sam were either given to pupils to be cooked at home or cooked in school for pupils to eat during recess.

Whatever was alloted for our class, each pupil got a fair share.

While other teachers would hide and take home powdered milk and later sold to their pupils as polvoron, Mrs. Ypil and most Danao Central School teachers were honest and never did such despicable and shameless act.

Some days we saved our recess money as we would all be eating yellow corn porridge (lugaw).

Mrs. Ypil would remind the class a day before that we were having lugaw at recess the next day. We had to bring firewood, plate and spoon; a few girls were assigned to cook the lugaw.

The girls designated as cook were just my age, 8 or 9, yet were already good at cooking yellow corn lugaw in a big calderon enough to feed 40 kids.

One day at recess, lugaw was ready and girls were first in line. Some 10 boys meanwhile played baseball as they were last to eat.

They used a tennis ball for a baseball and a firewood for a bat. When Manuel Beduya was at the bat, he hit the ball hard, landing into a stagnant canal coming from Lalay’s baboyan (pig’s sty).

Juanito Cane ran after the ball, picked it up from the canal and threw the ball back to the pitcher, Jonathan Lao.

Seeing the tennis ball was picked from the canal, now covered with mud or maybe pig’s manure, Jonathan just stood still, making no effort to catch the ball.

Unluckily, the ball went straight and dunked in the open calderon, half-full of lugaw.

Of course, with a tennis ball and pig’s manure in the calderon, those in line waiting to be served refused to get their share and reported the incident.

In a minute Mrs. Ypil came to investigate and rounded up all ten boys playing baseball.

She told them to get their plates and angrily demanded they eat all the lugaw in the calderon.

They could not go back to our classroom unless they finished it.

For the baseball players the 30-minute recess was extended to an hour. All ten players, at least had a plate of lugaw spiced with pig’s manure from Ramon-Lalay’s baboyan.

Jonathan Lao, Manuel and Juanito did have three servings and looked as if they enjoyed their meal while over a hundred watched in great amusement.
Luckily, not one complained of any stomach disorder as a result.

Among 20 or so boys in our class, ages 8 or 9, only three had been cir*censored*cised that summer.

These were the four Lao cousins: Edgar, Levi, Fernando and Jonathan.

Few months after their May 1959 cir*censored*cision, all four were too proud, always showing off  their newly healed cir*censored*cised ‘birdies’ to classmates who were still “pisot” and curious how a tuli looked like.

Because their fathers were, or had been in the military service, they had the privileged of being cir*censored*cised at a military clinic in Cebu City.

They often bragged that their cir*censored*cision was a breeze and painless, because it was done by a military doctor.

They said that if we had ours done by Dr. Laude, we would be in great pain while at the Arny clinic in Cebu, just like a mosquito bite.

They were telling us Dr. Laude had been using the same scissor the past 20 years, and used no anesthesia at all.

Since no others in class had a father in the military service, that scared us.

Some classmates made up their mind that they would have their cir*censored*cision through the old reliable pok-pok method by a known manunuli in Suba and not at the Dispensary by Dr. Mariano Laude.

Inserting a sharp knife into the foreskin of the penis on top a tadtaran, the manunuli strikes the knife with a piece of wood, splitting, at a blink of an eye, the foreskin and blood spurts.

Because the pok-pok is done real quick the pain would be gone as fast, so they claimed. (To be continued . . .  (MB)


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