Friday, February 04, 2011

Laguna, 3

As I said previously, my grandfather had a four-hectare homestead on the slopes of Mt. Makiling just beyond UP Los Banos Animal Husbandry. It was thickly forested and had all sorts of tropical fruit trees. Mango. Guava. Lanzones. Sampaloc (tamarind). Coconut. Langka (jackfruit). Rambutan. Guyabano. Santol. Sintones (oranges). There was a sintonesan section dedicated to oranges. There were coffee and kakaw (cocoa) trees. Then there were the non-fruit bearing trees, like mahogany and narra, that grow in tropical forests. A part was dedicated to ipil-ipil (Santa Elena). There was not a square meter of ground, apart from the area where around our hut, that was not covered with dead leaves, grass, weeds, and other vegetation.

    My cousins and I up a sintones tree. These trees do no grow very high. We could even 
just sit on the ground if the branches were low and pick some fruits.

That was a well tended piece of property. My father contributed a lot in that when he helped out my grandfather during the Japanese occupation. He helped to plant trees and till the soil for rice planting. My mother said it was difficult to plant rice upland but it was a fun time too for young people who found that opportunity to be together. The rice they planted fed many evacuees from town that sought shelter there from the fierce fighting between the Japanese and the joint Filipino and American troops after Gen. Douglas MacArthur had returned to the Philippines.

Growing up, I remember my grandparents spending a great deal of time in the mountains. They had a nipa hut there. Sometimes we had to hike up to see them, after resting for a while at my uncle's house in the town below.

My earliest memory of that place was probably the time my siblings and cousins, already in their youth, decided to spend the night there. My parents let me tag along while they stayed behind in my uncle's house. I was only four years old and still drinking milk from the bottle. Unfortunately--or not--my group forgot to bring my bottle with us. Poor little girl had no milk for the night. That was how I was weaned. Yes, at four years old!

What I remember more from that vacation was that I was really scared at night. My parents were not with me, and I heard different forest sounds that get magnified in the evening. It was also very dark because there was no electricity. I wanted to pee but there was no toilet in the hut. No outhouse either. Up there, when you felt the call of nature, you had to go to nature, if you know what I mean. Being night time, I asked someone to accompany just outside the hut by the front steps. So scary. Whoever it was who accompanied me decided to frighten me even more and pretended to leave me behind even before I was done.  I quickly ran up the bamboo stairs. Mean! There, it's out of my system, haha.

To be continued...

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