Memoirs of a Navy Brat



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Yesterday Young And Reckless



The first time time I could recall that we resided in a naval base was when we moved over to the Cavite Naval Base from Pandacan, and occupied an officer's quarters opposite the base hospital.

At this place, I had my very first experience of witnessing a full solar eclipse, which occurred one mid morning, turning day into a quiet night, with the crowing of the roosters breaking the eerie silence. We witnessed the event from the street across the house in the company of Uncle Bert, my Dad's brother, who was visiting then from my parents' home province.

Young and reckless, my innate childhood curiosity for things, which had often brought me some moments of pain and discomfort, made me one afternoon to innocently insert a hairpin into an electric outlet. Ha ha ha..... got the unexpected shock which sent me scurrying to the nearby hospital for first aid treatment. Can't forget that amused expression on the corpsman's face who attended to me while I was trembling and crying.

After finishing my first grade at the Ladislao Diwa Elementary School, I would continue with my 2nd and  3rd grades at the Malate Catholic School, which was only  a few blocks from our place, when we relocated to Plaza Militar in Manila. I remember one morning, fear struck the student population as news spread out that a large python was caught at the belfry of the Malate Catholic Church, which was only across the street from the school. Although I did not actually see the snake, I imagined a scene were a big and long python was being brought out of the church by three men holding it, from head to tail. Also, a regular pathetic sight in that area was a hobo, in his soiled and tattered clothes,  who we often observed as he ate the leaves of the plants lining the school's fence.

Guess you are aware how kids would often imitate what they saw on television. Hence, there are TV reminders now, warning viewers, especially children,  not to imitate the stunts that are shown. Well, a kid is a kid and the more intrepid ones will try to live out their fantasies. I guess I was no exception to this and my childhood memoirs would be incomplete without the following anecdotes.

One time I caused my dear Mom to almost freeze in fear as she witnessed me perform one of my acrobatic acts, jumping out of our still moving "school bus", a  3 x 3 truck carrier, in front of our house and rolled over to the ground with my school bag. I was lucky to escape with just minor bruises and scratches. Also, during some afternoons, when everybody else in the house was taking a siesta, my eldest brother, Kuya Sander, and I, would also imitate the parachute jumps we saw on war pictures on TV. We used our bedsheets as parachutes, with the four corners tied with rope for holding on during the jump. Under the heat of the afternoon sun, we would clamber up the lowest portion of the roof of our house, which was about 10 feet high, repeatedly doing the jumps to the grass lawn below. Though we could not really feel the support of a parachute, living out our fantasy was the more thrilling part of it.

My naughtiness, I should say, was at its peak at this stage of my growing up years. There were instances I couldn't wait for our school bus and had to walk home from school. Along the way, I would press every house doorbell I passed by until I got home. That was my routine until I got caught one day by an irritated somebody who probably just waited for me to do it again. The fellow didn't hurt me though, but admonished me not to do it ever again. I cried on my way home, but by the time I reached our house, I was already composed as if nothing had happened. I kept the whole incident to myself up to these days.

I've learned humbling lessons from the experiences of my growing up years and have never attempted to repeat the misadventures. After two years at Plaza Militar, we moved back to the Cavite Naval Base and stayed there for the last 12 years of my Dad's military service. The next chapters of my memoirs of yesteryear, which were the most memorable,  would revolve around my growing up experiences during this period.

[Living in Quonset Hut Homes]



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