“There’s no place like home.” I quoted this on my last blog and it made me realize that it had been ten months since I last visited my childhood home of Lutopan. So much has happened since that last visit. I have to admit that lately I have been a little stressed, and the best way for me to de-stress is to go back to my roots. People have different ways of dealing with stress, some picture the beach or an exotic location, but for me I always picture ASMS (now ASMC) in Lutopan.
There are many reasons I choose to always come back to visit. I love to reminisce all the memories of my family, friends, and teachers and retrace those familiar steps. We were very close when growing up; we played asin2x, patintero, tago2x, shatong, etc. together outside all day when we were not in class. It makes me wonder if today’s Facebook generation will grow up with those kinds of memories. Another reason to visit is that I get to see my humble childhood home. There are seven siblings in my family and at one point together we shared one small room. I get to see the place where I fell in love with music and first learned to sing. My first voice teacher was my father and when I started in school, Tita Mila Loyola continued to guide me. I also get to see the stage where I first performed and competed in so many minus-1 singing competitions over the years, even the time I lost to Malou Bandola and Arlene Pabroquez (who both deserved to win I must add!).
|My first love: Dancing|
One of the reasons that I have such amazing memories of my childhood is due to my incredible parents. We thought we were the richest family around. Every Sunday, my parents had one kilo of pork and one liter of Coca-Cola to divide up amongst the nine of us. You can imagine the fights that broke out if the levels in our glasses weren’t exactly the same. It was the best Coca-Cola ever, and it has never been exactly the same since! But looking back, I can see the reality that we were by no means rich financially, but we all still believe we were so very blessed as a family.
Our favorite family pastime was singing together while my brothers played guitar. We would fight over which song to sing; with seven siblings we had varied musical tastes. Ate Maye would want something from Broadway, my brothers and Jing wanted Alternative, and I demanded Whitney Houston. But in reality, Mama always won and we would sing “A Little Love” in perfect harmony. Growing up with so many siblings led me to become who I am today and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
During this trip, I was able to see some familiar faces. I first saw Mr. Tarsing Ruiz, the ever-popular shop teacher. And who in Lutopan doesn’t know the ever-bubbly Monsignor Gerry Jumao-as? I was so happy to see him healthy and smiling at mass, still looking good at 94 years young. He gave Adam and me a blessing before we had to leave to drive back to the city. So much has changed in the teachers’ compound where we grew up. The paint on the houses might be faded, the mango trees might be withered with age, and the water tank might be a little rusted, but the memories are still all so perfectly clear.
|Top (L to R): Tita Linda, Msgr. Jumao-as and me; School Seal; English Signs Everywhere|
Middle: Mr. Ruiz and friends of Papa; Msgr. Jamao-as; My childhood home
Bottom: Sitting on the water line; my High School; Mt. Carmel Church