What was the soundtrack of my childhood?

My sister and I watched The Sound of Music on an almost daily basis, to the point that the Von Trapps actually felt like family we were one day going to meet.  We sang and cried with them, all seven children, rooted for Captain Von Trapp and Fraulein Maria, memorized Eidelweiss and Something Good, both of which I still sing in the shower to this day. I loved how they wore their curtains as dresses, and wished we had a yaya who could do the same, too (well, we did, but only for doll dresses). Mommy was very indulgent: she allowed us to turn over tables and chairs and pretend they were mountains as we sang “the hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillls are alive, with the sound of music…”

We also watched Voltes V and Mazinger Z endlessly with the children of our drivers and helpers that stayed with us (Daddy had built a house for them in our backyard) and who were all our age, and very clearly I remember thinking I wanted to marry Grandizer one day.

There were many weddings and parties the parents went to, back when gatherings like those came with an unspoken and welcome expectation for guests to really dress up. Mommy always wore such pretty and fashionable dresses. I loved watching her put on her makeup, choose her jewelry, her bag that always matched her shoes. When they left we would watch TV shows (I do not know why I distinctly remember the opening music of Hawaii Five-O and the lead star running by the ocean). We waited up and stayed in their room until they came home — weddings excited me because Mommy would always bring back home a wedding giveaway, usually a very pretty beribboned little box with a slice of the wedding cake inside. I loved that. How come no one does that anymore nowadays? Those were mostly weekends I suppose, or during the summertime; otherwise we would be required to sleep early because of school.

What was the color and scent of my teenage years?

It was all about ‘80s music; our cousin John Paul who was the only one old enough to go out and disco would wear shoulder pads and eyeliner, I’m not sure anymore if that was Tears For Fears that inspired that. We would ask him why men wore shoulder pads and eyeliner and he said that was the norm because it looked nice with the disco lights. I remember listening to music that made me wish time moved faster so that I, too, could grow up, and together with my sister and cousin Johanna also be allowed to go to the disco. That time finally came, during our late teens and we were already in college, but because our curfew was at 10 p.m., we hardly saw any of the real action as John Paul would so animatedly describe. Again, we would rely on him, he who would come home with stories of all kinds.

During the summer, our two female cousins from Manila would also go to Cebu to visit Lola Carmen. The house would be filled and those were very happy times indeed. Karo and Tesa especially would teach us how to put on eyeliner, and wear bold-colored lipstick and nails. I remember using Clinique Happy and Benetton Tribu, and to this day if I chance upon them I will most probably buy myself a bottle of each, because that was the scent of my growing-up years. I also wore on my lips for probably an entire year a shade of Benetton lipstick called Navajo Brown, a brick red that was gorgeous. Regretfully, I cannot find it anymore, even if I have kept an eye out for it somehow. Once Shu Uemura had this 581 color that was somewhat a brighter shade of the Navajo Brown I loved so much but even that has been discontinued.

Because time was so fluid, summer was when my cousins and my sister and I would experiment with how we best enjoyed food. There were no rules — if we wanted milk with maling for dinner we could, and if we wanted to eat corned beef in the middle of the night, no one would say no. That was my first shot at making friends with cooking (sort of) and pots and pans. Summer was when Tita Liclic would bring us to Foodarama in the afternoon for Chinese lumpia, when John Paul would make omelets doused with lots of hot sauce, when Tito Gabby in Cebu would order sinugbang baboy, pancit, and fried rice from Statefair and when Tito Rico, if we were in Manila, would come home with roast beef sandwiches. Tesa taught me to eat Humpty Dumpty corn chips with Mayo Magic and because of that, for that summer alone I gained maybe 10 pounds and had to wear my brother Matt’s Levi’s 501s. Never again. Tita Monette always made the best cream less fruit salad, her version so refreshing because it had just the right amount of Sprite infused in the happy mix! In Manila, we would stay with Tita Naida and Karo, Tesa, Monica and they always had cookies and cake because their grandmother (on their father’s side) ran a bakeshop called St. Mary’s bread. Chocolate mousse and cookies were abundant and I think that was when I first met my fat cells.

And how about you? What shape, color, taste are the memories you have made?


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