Tata Anton visited us during summer vacation and suggested to Father that I continue my studies in Bayombong Nueva Vizcaya, his new station as Commanding Officer, Philippine Constabulary. He even advanced my fare for Father to repay with sewed slippers I brought with me for his family.
I rode a cargo truck from Bangued belonging to Mg. Arcing Viado to Bayombong that took a day’s trip. The quarters of Tata Anton were near the P.C. barracks in front of an old cemetery.
I and my cousin, Mg. Maming (Eufemia Bravo), enrolled together as third year students in the Nueva Vizcaya Vocational High School. There was where I changed my name to Jose from Patricinio Sibayan. During the first day of roll call I failed to respond to the name “Jose.” Hence I became popular after explaining that my name was Patricinio.
Mg. Maming and I both landed in Section B. Aside from the regular course I also enrolled in the vocational school course of Poultry and Swine Raising for one extra hour.
I was very happy when Tata Anton gave me a new bicycle that my Auntie won in a so-called “PAKAOT” Lottery. My three oldest cousins, Mg. Tolong, Susing and Maming, being women, are not allowed to ride a bike. My three younger cousins, Ben, Elsar and Cornelio, were too young to ride a bike.
It was always my desire to own a bike after I learned how to ride one, in Vigan using a bike owned by my cousin, Catalino Sibayan, a school teacher. How things can materialize with our fervent thoughts was illustrated by this incident. “According to your belief so be it unto you.”
With my bike I was made to ride it to buy groceries in town and bring clothes to their laundrywoman’s house and do all errands for the Bravo family, as a houseboy.
Although the town was quite far on a dirty, stony road, I enjoyed riding my bike. I polished it with coconut oil every day!
I rode it to town very early every morning to buy bread. I polished or scrubbed the floor with coconut husks when I returned and pumped water to take a bath, then went to school after taking breakfast. My cousins were still asleep when I had already exercised and taken a bath.
Most of the time I rode my bike to school. I was the only one in our class who had a bike. At that time a bike was expensive and it was just like owning a sports car.
When the weather was bad and raining, I rode the Constabulary “Calesa” (horse-drawn carriage) with Mg. Maming, driven by a soldier in uniform. Our driver then was Mg. Johnny Feir’s father, Sgt. Feir from Bangued, Abra.
I was very proud riding with my beautiful cousin, Mg. Maming. My classmates, I knew, were very envious and jealous. With all of these inspirations and with a NEW name, I made very good grades, all above 80, which made my uncle wonder why I was getting very much higher grades than his daughter, who had more time to study, not taking Poultry and Swine Raising as a vocational course on Saturdays.
But Mg. Maming had three beautiful friends that she rode with going to school in the Calesa. They were Edith Crisilogo, Olive Inis, and Miguela Faralan. They were all in Section A but I got acquainted with them.
Miguela or Ilay became my close friend but I could not even give her any Christmas gift for lack of money to buy one. She was my Junior Prom partner. We continued writing each other when we were students in Manila and I used to visit her in the Philippine General Hospital, where Mg. Trining was their upper class student.
All three became nurses, while Mg. Maming became a nursing mother, as she married early after Tata Anton did not like her to go to Manila for fear of having the same fate as Mg. Loling and Mg. Susing, who became unmarried mothers while studying in Manila.
Another friend of Mg. Maming who was our classmate was Sustinio Torengava. Torrie became another close friend of mine. I attended their dances in the St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was a student nurse.
Olive Inis was a girl friend of Mr. Johnny Feir’s brother, Mg. Asciong, all throughout their high school days.
I used to visit Olive in the nursing school where she was enrolled, in Tondo, Manila – the Mary Chiles Hospital. But she and Mg. Asciong parted ways when they were in Manila.
Both Ilay and Edith graduated from the PGH, where Mg. Trining graduated ahead of them.
During our summer vacation in Bayombong, I used to ride the bike with Mg. Maming and Edith during moonlight nights. At the time I was already 16 and was getting attracted by the opposite sex. Hence my fondest early memories were in Bayombong, N.V.
Tata Anton decided to send me back to Bangued and took Elix in my stead. I don’t know why he decided to do this but I suspect he was being humiliated with my grades very much higher than Mg. Maming’s and that I would be in Section A while she would be in Section B. He was a very proud man but a very kind uncle.