In 1950, when I was 6 years old, a grade-schooler at Ateneo in Jacinto, my little corner of the world called Guino-o compound was bounded by 4 streets – Anda, Bonifacio, Ponciano (crooked road), and Rizal. So let me take you down to that time when life was simple, uncomplicated – and child-happy. On Anda St., Guino-o compound was a row of 2-story houses rented by our family, the Sisons, the Liceraldes, the Roques, and the Cutlers.
Nearby on the same street lived the Quitains, the Kimpos, and the Macasaets. Lyric cinehan, the De La Rosa art studio, Doming’s barbershop, Dr. Castillo (dentist). On the other side of San Pedro St. were G.A.M.I. (Bobby Soriano and Ed Peralta), the MATA Bike Shop (Salvador, my classmate), and on the Magallanes/Anda corner was a Flying A Gas Station owned by Ken Angeles’ family.
On Bonifacio Street was the venerable Guino-o Hotel (now the Queens Theatre), and across it was the sweat-smelling SUROT-laden Clifford Theatre where I saw films like “CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON” (scared me then – and now!) and war classics like “SANDS OF IWO JIMA” (starring GIN WINE aka John Wayne). On Bonifacio St. lived Sonny Pamintuan’s family (Apo View Parking Lot), Teddy Pavino’s (now PHILOSOPHY Spa), and Bibo Campo (still there).
Also on Ponciano/Bonifacio was the PMT/ROTC Parade Grounds (now the U.M. multi-test), Tesoro’s Printing Press, and the Mindanao College (now U.M.). On Rizal St. were the Quimpo’s, Kimpo’s, Dr. Durban’s Clinic, the Oboza’s, and the Monfort’s.
It was a lot of fun growing up inside the Guino-o compound because we had a lot of playmates, Marilyn, Fred, Edgar, Elenita Roque, Franklin, Norman, Nelson and Emil Sison, Pong, Boy and sisters Liceralde; and of course, the Cutlers, especially the younger ones – Charlie, Eee-die Boy (now Ed), Iking and Mary. We had to MAKE our own toys – bamboo canons, kites, shiny pitogos, wooden scooters with ball-bearing wheels, can-and-string “phones,” we had lots of games; tumba lata, piko, lastiko, shatung, holen, sharp flat tansans, spider-fights. After a hard-rain we fished in swollen canals for dalag and gold-fish (botete pala).
During Holy Week starting with Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday – we were not allowed to play outside the house – no radio, QUARANTINED until Easter Sunday.
In the 50s, life was really Catholic-Conservative: you wouldn’t see girls or women in shorts or tight-fitting clothes; on Sundays, they wore VEILS and no SLEEVE-LESS dresses were allowed inside the church. So puritanical! But there was SABONG on Saturdays and Sundays! Sunday picnics were in TALOMO BEACH, still clean for swimming then (now, a CESSPOOL!) and TIMES BEACH was uninhabited, perfect for swimming dates. No swim suits then! Going to the beach meant picking up pancit canton wrapped in banana leaves from MenSeng or Dencia’s.
Before my brother Tato and I went to Ateneo for grade school, we went to UCCP’s kinder school in Magallanes in front of the Brokenshire Hospital. But there’s a story behind this – recall that UCCP was Protestant then and now – and we were Catholics. We were enrolled at St. Peter’s (by ICC) – but got scolded by the Nuns for playing in the Canal – catching goldfish! So my mom (a staunch Catholic) transferred us to the UCCP kinder. Good move because my classmates there were Gilbert Abellera, Ken Angeles, Alvin Babista, Toti Morales- the last 3 would be my Ateneo GS – and HS classmates – and friends up to now. (End of Part 1)