I have always been the odd ball in many groups. For example, I never go to cemeteries on November 1. I have not visited my father's grave on that date. You see, when he died, we were caught by surprise and was not prepared for anything like that. So, we had to come up with the best solution as to where to put him to rest fast. It was his nephews and then surviving brother that rescued us by offering my grandmother's grave where two or three from the clan are also interred. This is in La Loma cemetery. Have you been there during All Soul's day? The place is just teeming with people. You don't even have to walk. You just stand and the multitude will get you to your destination. So, no, I don't go to cemeteries to commemorate the dead. I find it impractical. Besides I have had a lifetime full of cemeteries when I was younger.
My family used to live near the cemetery. It was in a town in Malabon called Tugatog. Actually, we lived beside the border. Separated only by a small stream, to our right was the Caloocan cemetery which extends to Malabon. If my kids have malls to go to during summers, I had the whole cemetery to play in. Morbid as it may sound, that was where I used to chill-out. I was very good at hopping from one tomb to another. There were the single ones, the doubles, triples which I hopped from one place to another. I knew it like the palm of my hand, so to speak. There were also the mausoleums mostly owned by Chinese families and the apartments and the ubiquitious aratiles treee. We flew kites there, hide from our parents, stole kisses from girls (that was rather cute as I was still about ten years old... I wonder if I can do that now). This was also the place where my friends used slingshots to fight war with the boys from neighboring Caloocan notably the gangs at the Sangandaan market. This was the not-so-fun part because Sangandaan was between my house and La Consolacion School where i spent my whole elementary schooling. Believe me, having enemies in a place where you always have to pass is not easy. What made this worse was that this was the middle sixties when having gangs and being a tough guy were hip. So I had been stopped several times by these hoodlooms to check if I was part of the gang they throw stones at every Saturday morning.
Anyway, being halloween and all, I recall my childhood with fondness. Living near two cemeteries, Nov. 1 was always a special treat for a young kid like me. Watching people was always fun. What was so special to me were the boy scouts. Not only did I envy their brown uniforms, the knee high socks, the neckerchief, the carabao that held it in place, the patches sewn on their uniforms but mostly the camaraderie they shared with one another. They had this huge tent where they camped in during the season which began on Oct 30 and ended up to NOv. 2. You see, during those days, the boy scouts assist the visitors. You would see them in pairs, roaming the cemetery waiting to be summoned for help. The most important thing they did was finding lost children which they handed over to camp. To my young mind, that was very productive.
My interest in the Boy scouts was further enhanced when I got to see the graves of the fallen scouts at the entrance of the La Loma cemetery. I was amazed at the huge scout sign that signifies their resting place. I told myself, someday I shall become a boy scout. And i did! NO, I never got to stay in cemeteries but I had experienced lots of camping trips, earned badges that saw me rising to become a Maginoo scout which at the time was the second to the highest rank one can achieve as a scout, under the tutelage of Mr. Guinto, our scoutmaster. A Maginoo scout is second to being a Rizal Scout. It was at this time that I learned how to cook, fend out for myself, pitch a tent, fold my clothes neatly, own a hunting knife and even ride horses in Baguio. Through scouting, I gained other friends, even scouts from another country in one of those jamborees. I was disappointed when my dad didn't allow me to join the international jamboree which was held in Japan but it turned out to be a blessing because the camp was visited by a storm.
At any rate, dreaming about scouting and actually becoming one gave me one realization. That i can be what I want to be if I only worked for it. This have always been my philosophy ever since. I wanted to become a painter and so I enrolled in Fine Arts and am now working on my latest painting. I dreamt of becoming a poet and so I joined several writing groups and am now learning how to write poems. Now, why I haven't dreamt of becoming a millionaire someday is beyond me, but I didn't.
I attended another EB with the Manila chapter of the Blogkadahan group. Our lone Japan chapter member Sachiko arrived and of course, we had to meet her. So we met her at Dusit where she and husband Michio were billeted, had a sumptuous dinner at Recipes and came back to Dusit for some music and drink at the San Miguel bar where Sabor Latino was playing. It was an awesome night of fun and merriment. And I got to hear samba playing once again. The percussionist-band leader was awesome! I can't wait till the next EB.