I’m 88, going on 89! | Inquirer Opinion
High Blood

I’m 88, going on 89!

Yes, I’m almost 89, and what a wonderful feeling it is! That’s because I’ve gifted myself with the privilege of erasing bad memories, and focusing only on the happy ones.

Here are some of those happy days worth remembering:

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There was an article in the Inquirer on the El Deposito museum across the Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan. I attended Grade 2 in one of the classrooms built above the Deposito because my Lolo Segundo Andres was the caretaker of the whole compound.

During the Japanese occupation, I transferred to the San Juan Elementary School for Grades 3 to 5. With the exclusive private schools in San Juan closed because of the war, my classmates included the children of the affluent families, like the Tolentinos, the Bengzons, the Ejercitos.

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I admired a classmate in Grade 4 because she could recite the multiplication table, though the teacher said I was better in Nihongo! Maybe if I had gone to Japan after the war, I would have been rich.

In Grade 6, after the liberation, I wanted a new environment, so I enrolled at the Burgos Elementary School in Sta. Mesa. My world was surrounded by the likes of the De Leons, Desiderios, Olivareses, Herbosas.

My homeroom teacher was a Mr. Antonio, who said that my father was also his student. But talk of coincidences: his grandson was a batchmate of my eldest daughter at the Philippine Science High School.

At a gathering of a few alumnae, guests, and sisters of St. Theresa’s College, Quezon City, when came my turn to introduce myself, I said we were poor so I studied instead at the Paco Catholic School. Several others stood up to say that they came from the same school. Maybe we were all poor.

In college, I took up a two-year education course at the Philippine Normal School (PNS), with my father paying P11 for tuition. In my second year, PNS became a college, and my father had to pay P83 for tuition. The school is now a university. If I attend their reunion this year, it would have been 72 years since I became an alumna.

But I never got to teach because, as I told my father later, all I wanted was to become a secretary. I could have been a most efficient employee because it was my only choice.

I met my husband when we both worked at a prestigious department store in the 1950s. If he were still around, we would have been married for 63 years.

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Since my husband’s initials are “FPV,” he insisted on two names for our children to conform to his initials. But Felicia Pamela, Frances Patricia, Felix Perry, Francesca Pauline, Franzella Pinky, Florizelle Pearlie, and Florinda Paula had such long names that they recounted how their teacher was already dictating the first item on a short quiz while they were still writing their full names.

I used to tease my husband because he talked fast and would interchange the syllables of some words. For instance, when he attended a wake, he’d say there was a “chronological” tribute, instead of “necrological.” When the Cenacle Sisters visited our neighborhood, he referred to them as “Xenical” Sisters, after that medication for slimming.

In my younger years, I had a friendly chat with a lawyer-friend. As we parted, he said I was a “love child,” and I took it to mean that I was—and still am—loved. So all is right in my world.

The first math I taught my grandson was fractions. When he was being naughty, he’d blurt out, “Isa… dalawa… kalahati!”

My granddaughter was as candid. I remember being with her to a Catholic girls’ school, where she had passed the entrance test for kinder pupils. After I had a chat with the Mother Superior, the good nun turned to her and asked, “So, are you ready to be with us this school year?” Without missing a beat, my granddaughter replied, “Hindi po.”

As a teenager, I began to clip newspaper articles for scrapbooks. Were it not for Typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009, my clippings of Young Blood stories would have been intact.

In the late 1990s, my two High Blood articles were published. Recently, I also made a couple of contributions to “The Home Cook” column, where I wrote of the culinary treats of Marikina.

My greatest wish in these my fading years is for PDI to let me buy a Guyito figurine. And then I can rest.

——————

Lita A. Villanueva turned 89 last September. She is a mother of seven, a grandmother of 13, and a great-grandmother of four. Until the pandemic struck, she would join fun walks and got prizes for being the oldest participant.

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TAGS: Battle of Pinaglabanan, Japanese Occupation, San Juan, Seniors
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