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Señor Moments | Davao – Ca. 1950s-60s Part 3

Let me recall how life was lived during the prudish 50’s to the swinging 60’s, during our high school years 1956 to 60 at the all-boys school, Ateneo in Matina.


“Androgynous” – the girls and women tried their best to look like males, favoring the shape-less: H-line, long-hemmed dresses buoyed up at times with petticoats; definitely no CLEAVAGES seen (makes you wonder now if women had boobs then). No short-shorts or tight fitting jeans or pants (maybe they didn’t have LEGS either). PWC girls wore “BLOOMERS” (my mom would be SCANDALIZED(!) if she saw what women tracksters or volleyball players wore today).

What did the GUYS wear then? From the HIGH-waisted, double-pleated front of the pants of Sinatra the style evolved to the pants-style of the LOW-waist gang (Zaldy Zhormack, Benting Labra, and Romeo Vasquez). Many guys had their shirts and pants custom-tailored at shops like CHIEW’s, Raymundo’s, Paramount (still around) Tailoring (“saan ang kargada mo?”).

The mid 50s and 60s REVOLUTIONIZED the fashion for gals and guys. the MINI-skirt of Twiggy and BELL-BOTTOMS of the Beatles arrived from the U.K. Elvis the king was coup d ‘tad by the Beatles and other British invaders, Chad & Jeremy, Mick Jagger, Peter & Gordon.

SHOES – no Nike, no Adidas or Puma, but Converse Chuck Taylor high-cut was there but hardly affordable so we wove the “CUSTOM BUILT” look-alike. Gilmore (a shop in MLA) made available a local Beatle boots.

MUSIC- In the 50s, American music dominated he radio-waves: Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Fabian, Fats Domino, Sinatra, Como, Mathis, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Bros., Ventures Beach Boys, Connie Francis, Julie London, ATBP. The BRITISH Invasion took over: Beatles, Dave Clark 5, Mati Monro, Cliff Richard & the Shadows, and many more European musicians.

ATENEO HS (1956-1960)
One of the 1ST programs I attended as a HS freshman featured Assandas Balchand (now an S.J. and Pribhu’s older brother) delivering his winning speech in the VOICE of DEMOCRACY contest, then the most prestigious speech contest. AdD’s other national V.O.D. winner was NICK SOLANA (Joe’s younger brod; both R.I.P. now). Sonny Dominguez placed 2ND to my AdM classmate, Rufo Gonzalez (now R.I.P).

A de D HS was a barn-like building with a basketball gym in the center (also a program venue) with classrooms on the sides and on the 2ND floor. There was a chapel and Jesuit priests quarters on the 2ND floor. One grade level had about 3 sections of 30-35 students. To be a campus figure, one had to be a VARSITY, basketball player, and HONOR ROLL student, and a winner in SPEECH or DRAMATICS. And one had good at mano-a-mano fighting like Biliong Luna and Jimmy Ventosa (now R.I.P.); SAMMY LUTZ (now a retired Dr.). Every afternoon, our friends boxing (w/ oversized leather gloves) in our Juna garden, so we could take melty good care of ourselves.

There was a “DEAN OF DISCIPLINE” usually the TOUGHEST Jesuit who’d call you to office – and asked you to pull down your pants for an ass-beating;or if you preferred, BOXED with him. Kids today have gotten soft thus discipline is lacking: “SPARE THE ROD THUS, SPOIL THE CHILD”. Teachers were allowed to exact corporal punishment – and relished this power. But the boys will always be boys. For example, DUT (as he was known then) was EXPELLED during 2ND years for shooting at the white-suited Jesuit with a water-gun he loaded with BLACK INK! And if you failed one subject – you were made to REPEAT the year. Thus, many opted to transfer to Holy Cross.

There were 3: Jimmy Johnson who fought as “CLAVLAZ”; Butch Togle as “BARNEY ROSS Jr.” and Paquito Cabonce as himself. Of the 3, Paquit had the SHORTEST career – 1 round! Paquit’s foe who was a heavily-muscled pro who threw 1 punch, knocked him down, threw up the pancit canton, so he QUIT for good.

1. CLASS NIGHTS- the class would spend the evening at school playing basketball, having dinner together – and staying the night in one classroom.
2. PICNICS- we went to trek to Times Beach a lot – one had to make a trail thru Talahib, Maisan, and Trees. But what a beach – isolated, clean, and pristine (sadly now a CESSPOOL!). The Jesuits also had a retreat house near Penaplata that we went to on week-ends. We took a motorized banca – then as we neared, we would jump off and swim ashore. Again, the sea-water was plastic-free then.

Parties were called “JAM-SESSIONS” and many were held at the Munda residence because it was easy for the girls to ask permission from their parents since my mom was with PWC. And most – if not all – the girls were from PWC and let me see if I can recall some: Baby Abella, Carmen & Emily Uy, the Carriedo sisters and cousins, de la Serna sisters; the Rosellos, the Garridos.


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