I was a happy child. And I had a happy childhood. I played with marbles and sticks and stones, I was very happy with my two hand-me-down Barbie dolls and the miniature furniture in real wood hand-made for me by Manong Susing. They were crude, painted a drab forest green (because that was the available color in the shop, remnant of the paint used on the trucks to haul sugar cane). I had my hula-hoop and Chinese garter, and I could watch The Sound of Music anytime on Betamax, over and over again.
To cap off that happiness, and because ignorance is bliss, I ate red hotdogs and Spam and Maling egg rolls guiltlessly (I cannot do that anymore now). Life was simple, real and perfect — in the way that perfect can be defined in a child’s world.
The best part of every afternoon was playing with my childhood friends. Daddy had a couple of favorite and most trusted drivers, Manoy Delfin among them. Sadly, he has since passed. Manoy Delfin was married to Manang Virgie and their children were about the same age as me and my siblings. They were named Ginaly and Jeffrey, nicknamed Dayday and Boyboy. (She is now a teacher and a barangay captain.) Daddy built a house for them somewhere in our backyard, near the mini-tennis court. Basically, we all lived in the same compound, went to the same school although in different sections, were tutored at the same time daily. As such, because of proximity, we never lacked playmates. The mother of Manang Virgie was Manang Kessin, and she was Daddy’s cook even as a bachelor.