The Ilocano word “likud,” which means “at the back” in English, is not just the opposite of in front or signifies being last. It also holds a negative connotation in terms of space. Likud denotes the tail end. But the likud I know of is a vestige of my safe and optimistic space.
Likud, a relic of my recent past, is a literal ruin of what has been unknown to me and my playmates. It was once a clinic and a dwelling place of the Alvarado family.
The more than 500 square meters wide open space beside the residential zone of our barangay immediately became a parking lot for tricycles and a drying area for laundered clothes. For us, the children of looban, it was a park where we exposed our tender skins to the scorching heat as we played larong kalye. It was a stage for our songs and dances. And an arena to fight against kids who were dayo.
I remember the elders discouraged us from going there as it was dangerous. In hindsight, it is basic instinct to discourage kids from going and staying outdoors. Their warnings, however, were taken lightly.
My kababata and I were naturally daredevils. I remember climbing the concrete water tank just to reach the second floor of the vacated building, even though the staircase was still intact and walkable. I chose to traverse the risky and more challenging way. It was a test of bravery, a challenge by my peers that I needed to pass. When playtime started, we descended on the ground by jumping from the second floor. Quite a leap of faith if you think about it, but it was just another pressure from my peers.
Likud has witnessed, or more accurately, became the arena for a death-defying experience. There were instances where the word “risk” became an understatement. I remember cheering for the most adventurous child amongst us to go down from the top through the vent of a narrow chimney. Fortunately, he came out alive. The anxiety and claustrophobia just by remembering it is too much and had I known what these words were, I would have stopped him.
Of course, this place has also drawn blood from me. I experienced stepping on glass shards, thinking I was invincible. I was wrong. But I knew I was strong enough to remove the glass, the size of my finger, and held my tears back before I reached home.
Although likud raised so many resilient MVPS—the most valuable players in piko, taguan, ten-twenty, and more—we were not exempted from the vulnerabilities of the games. Some went overboard with their risk-taking, and they ended up winning nothing. Some were too ecstatic that they forgot about life outside of pastimes. Others got caught in the moment for too long, and they turned away from the reality of life. While a few got exhausted and stopped playing early on.
My game has not been decided yet. I worry about what is in store for me. Will I share the same faith as what my kababata holds?
It seemed that the elders were right all along that likud was not safe. It was not the best place for development, so much so for real-to-life lessons. Likud, in the eyes of my ka-barangay, is the embodiment of unbridled passion and misguided principles. But I just cannot see it the way they look at it.
If I try to look back, likud was so exposed to the outside. It was the first step from moving out of comfort and protection. The elders should have thanked this space for preparing us for the unknown.
I still consider myself lucky that I stepped on its premises. I would not be the person I am today without it. Likud is not just a mere abstract idea of the unfortunate. It is not a wrecked imagined entity. I lived with it, and so did my kababata.
Likud is real life. It was not just a crumbling edifice. It was our space where we felt safe and secure, even without a guiding adult. This space made us feel the joy of winning and the sorrows of losing—to be humane in every way possible. And most importantly, Likud forged dreams with us with eyes wide open.
Likud gave me so much familiarity with the games of life that I turned extra careful. Yes, it was not all good, it was not always a win, but it taught me to live and laugh even during precarious times.
I wonder what reputation likud would have, had it been positioned in front. But being at the back needs no pretense. You can freely do what needs to be done—in the most natural state.
Likud, right now, is just a piece of remembrance engrained in the back of my memory.
Jerson Kent Danao, 22, is a native of Aparri, Cagayan.