I was enrolled in school at the early age of 5 although 7 was the required age for first grade enrollment. Tony was also enrolled at the age of 5, or rather started being brought to school by our first grade (Apt. tenant) teacher, who called him “saling posa,” then included his name in her roll of students when she found out he excelled his older classmates.
Our first grade teacher was Maestra Minang Astudillo. She always wore a long dress down to her heels because at that time women did not wear panties. It was then in the ‘20’s when girls in school only wore skirts without panties, thus exposing their private parts to our eyes, and to the flies!
I only wore a “kansolsillo,” or short pants and a shirt. My short pants had a string around its waistline to be tied up after tightening it around the waist.
The two ends of the string were tied up together, thus making it very difficult to untie the knot, especially when one is in a great hurry to go to the toilet. And if the wrong part of the knot is pulled, then you have just to urinate or move your bowels with your pants on! It happened very often.
Our shirt was a whole piece of cotton cloth with holes for the head and the hands to go through. No buttons. Like undershirts now.
On rainy days we did not use umbrella or raincoat because everybody used the “annango” used by our grandpas made of buri or palm leaf covering the back part of the body only. Hence, to protect the front part of the body from getting wet, one has to bend down at a right angle, or else turn the palm leaf around to protect the front part of the body if the wind is strong.
Most old men and women then were bent because while planting rice under the rain they were bent the whole day long. They all had canes to walk with.
The school girls wore skirts long enough to go halfway down their legs. When the wind blew their skirt up, their private parts were exposed, and we made fun of them. It was in the ‘30’s when girls started wearing panties. This stopped the young boys from going under houses to peep at women’s private parts through the bamboo slots of the floor, and get scalded with hot water if they got caught!
In the marketplace where the vendors had to squat in front of their wares, the women sometimes overlooked to cover their private parts with their dress, thus attracting male buyers.
As a kid always with a hungry stomach, I used to go to the market to look for coins dropped on the ground. The market of Bangued had no asphalted or cemented floor then.
The vegetable or fruit vendors sold their wares squatting on the ground.
Only the meat vendor and fish vendors had elevated stalls made of bamboo tables.
Hence, the market was dusty, dirty, full of flies, ants, and fleas!
No doubt the epidemic of dysentery or loose bowel movement was very common in that place. And the only remedy was boiling guava leaves for medicine, and drinking the boiled water.
During recess I used to go to an old lady who had a previous arrangement with my parents to give me a piece of cake called “dobol,” which I liked very much. She was Apo Benta, a relative of Father from Vigan. Her rice cake was very delicious for a hungry belly.
That is why my favorite subject was RECESS!