Being a kid in Cawayanon was normal.
It was normal that Kindergarten Commencement was held on a picnic blanket with tea party props under an acacia tree in the school yard with our parents around us looking on and we sang and danced The Little Teapot:
“I’m a little teapot, short and stout.
Here is my handle and here is my spout.
When I get hot then I shout!
Tip me over and pour me out.”
It was normal to sit on top of the jungle gym bars (some 10 feet above the ground, without harnesses or safety ropes) and play Broken Telephone: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pippers did Peter Pickle pep? What?” We would laugh until our stomachs hurt and nobody fell off.
It was normal to read 10 books a week and memorize the longest word in the dictionary: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis – which meant something like a disease that affected the lungs.
It was normal to be in Grade 6 but be taking assignments from a Grade 8 Math book.
It was normal to be eight years old but be on the same team as all the older kids because you were a fast runner or a good kicker or a quick thinker.
It was normal to climb the guava trees at the back of the school, wade in the creek (nobody had heard of leptospirosis back then), roll in the freshly-mowed grass and try to catch as many falling leaves as we could whenever the wind blew through the acacia trees in the school yard.
It was normal to race to the Baclig’s front yard and climb their many fruit trees (rambutan, santol, star apple, balingbing, macopa, mansanitas, guava, orange and what have you). It was always ok, whether we asked permission or not. (Thank you, Mrs. Baclig!)
It was normal to barge into the Lodge and demand (with a please) for sliced pineapple, ice cream cake and cinnamon rolls. All signed, of course, for our fathers to pay later when they received their paychecks.
It was normal to see your mom dress up in party clothes or formal wear or even funny costumes for the once-a-month Ladies’ Day Celebrations.
It was normal to play in the rain, swim (in the pool) in the rain, tell each other secrets in our own little hiding place under the house.. in the rain.
It was normal to play bowling without ball boys (young boys hanging around the golf caddie house at the Clubhouse moonlighting as bowling ball boys).. We learned how to fix the bowling pins in the proper position for the perfect STRIKE! This was years before the bowling alley became automated.
It was normal to go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween and tell ghost stories about the house we were about to ask treats from. (“Did you know that Mr. Mendezona had a visitor last night? He was sitting in the sala reading a newspaper IN THE DARK! Really? What time was that? Around midnight! Eeeeeeee! Trick or Treat!”) Trick-or-Treat usually started at 6:00pm and so if we were to visit each house, we would sometimes end at around 11:00pm. The last house was inevitably the Hernandezes, the Mendezonas, the Javellanas, the Valorias, the Jaranillas or the Morans.. the scariest houses I can remember.
It was normal to sit on Santa’s lap on Christmas and receive the exact gift you wanted, complete with all the stuff you asked for in your letter to Santa, not realizing that “Santa” was really Mr. Barger or Mr. Martin or Mr. Wheeler or one of the Weather Station servicemen, who coincidentally hadn’t been around earlier. (Hmm.. think Superman and Clark Kent.)
It was normal to learn all about American History and American Heroes (i.e. General Douglas MacArthur) and know practically nothing about our own country. (To the Americans reading this, I write this with pride because it gave me an edge over my high school classmates when we took up World War II.)
It was normal to call the Guardhouse on a Saturday night and request horses for the next morning. Then we would just walk over to the Piggery (which was next to the Dairy) to claim them.. The rest of the day would be bliss, riding off and getting lost in the endless pineapple fields. We would come home tired but ecstatic, not really knowing how (the horses knew).
It was normal to get fresh milk in glass bottles dropped at your doorstep every morning. My brother and I would call dibs for the thin film of cream that always formed on top.
It was normal to pick up the phone and wait for the Telephone Operator to come on, and ask for your friend’s house (Can I have the Carew’s house please?), hear a few Morse-code-like rings before someone picked up on the other end. I always wondered why our phones didn’t have any dials.
It was normal to handle insects, frogs, worms, fish, and even snails with your bare hands.
It was normal to sit on the ground without padding (towel, handkerchief or piece of paper).. when we stood up, we just patted our bottom and off we went.
It was normal to take off our shoes and run through the “fog” created by the Fog Machine – which was actually a tractor-driven tank spraying insecticide to kill the mosquitoes. This was scheduled every other Saturday and we would get a kick whenever the “fog” would enter the house. (Amazing none of us acquired pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcano-coniosis for eagerly inhaling it.)
It was normal. (If you could see me now, I’m shrugging with a confused look on my face, because you see? It was.)
“Do not educate your child to be rich. Educate him to be happy. So when he grows up, he will know the value of things, not the price.” –