I HAVE these two early memories of the old San Pedro street (not named after us, in case you were wondering). In one, I am having Halo-halo with my mother, Auntie Pilar and grandpa Jose inside the Three Sisters soda parlor. So popular in its time, the eatery had on display, their personal doll collection which prominently occupied the left portion near the entrance by the jukebox machine. In that memory, I also vividly remember calesas (horse-drawn passenger carts) outside, passing along the length of San Pedro street which was so very narrow, it looked like our present-day Crooked Road. In another childhood memory, my parents and us boys are leaving San Pedro Church (also no relation), and we have just crossed Bolton Street. The movie theater directly across the church presently showed a war flick and I briefly got a look at the displayed selected photos of the film presently shown on that particular Sunday as we hurried by.
On February 10, 1964, we were already in school at Ateneo across the river when school authorities announced that classes were suspended and we should get home. We immediately boarded the school buses and as we crossed Bankerohan, we immediately guessed the enormity of the ongoing fire because we watched as small planes had come to assist in the effort, diving and dropping water in the direction of San Pedro.
Exactly fifty-eight years ago, that had been. And I still have vague memories of a few more fleeting instances during that time. I could still even imagine what the air smelled like then, mixed with the quaint scent of perfume on the three sisters as they chatted with my mom. Exactly fifty years ago.
Everyone in that memory is now ghosts to me while all that still remains is that street which, amusingly by coincidence, still bears our same surname. Both during my youth and even till recently, I have walked in it so many times I have lost count. In the last two years, when I felt nostalgic enough to brave the covid air, I would walk its whole length, from DBP up to Quirino avenue where I waited by the bus stop for home. Despite its much wider berth now and the more modern facade lining its sidewalk, a lot of reminiscences still linger, always unfailing to greet me like spirits waving, as I walk and follow my every step as I move past them, lost in my thoughts.
At other times, like the many streets of this city, they too can project an image so stoic and impersonal, despite my knowledge of their history. While to me, they remain like close friends, both from my youth up till now, they can still snub you like a high school crush. Alas, in spite of all that they have evolved or morphed into in all those long years, the streets bustle with countless familiar faces I have come across in them, in real and in memory.
HONORING MY MOTHER
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