I never really thought much about growing up as a child in Bara. But looking back now, I would say that my childhood was a happy one. Me and my siblings didn’t have much back then. We rarely have new shoes and new clothes. My parents didn’t also buy toys for us, so we contented ourselves with creating our own toys and playing the local games with our playmates. I remember making a toy called pusil-pusil out of bamboo branches. Pusil-pusil means a toy gun in Masbateno. What we do with this toy is basically shoot each other using a wet paper as a bullet being squeezed into the barrels.
This memory got stuck in my head because while making it on my own, I hit my left index finger nail with a sharp bolo. The nail was damaged so it has to regrow. When I look at my left index finger nail now, I always remember this experience.
While I was growing up, I was a tomboy and most of my girl friends are. Maybe this is because we didn’t grow up with Barbie dolls and we would play with boys. In the local games, there is no distinction between a girl and a boy even though most of the games are more boy orientated games like tatsian, bug-oy, tumbang preso, chinese garter and many more. We would fight with boys, and boys consider us as equals. The gender lines are blur. Our childhood was full of games, play, friendship and laughter. We would play after the school and would play even during the night when the moon is so bright.
During summertime, our days are peppered with activities like climbing trees, swimming in the sea, hunting for wild fruits like guava, tino-tino and mango. We didn’t care much about the heat or how dangerous it is to walk through the tall grasses with the possibility of snake bites or climbing tall mango trees like little monkeys. We were as dark as charcoal and our bodies smell like a pungent vinegar after a day’s roaming. We were like free-range chicken and our parents won’t know where we are during the day. I, for one, would leave around 9 am and come back at 5 PM to roam around the village. My parents would have no idea where I am but they are not worried because I would be with my friends most of the time.
Those were the time of innocence and naivety. What concern us most are the snakes and whether the owner of mango trees that we would climb to get fruits would catch us. My parents and us were not concerned about the danger that the cities pose.
Ours is a childhood that lack material things but one full of experiences. I was not aware that my clothes are old and sometimes shabby. I did not care much that I only have Spartan flip-flops. Maybe I cared when after roaming the whole day and I pass by a store selling putok (a bread) and I can’t buy one because I won’t have any single coin in my pocket. So I would go back home to eat whatever is cooked by my mother. Or maybe I was made aware that we didn’t have much money when during recess time, I didn’t have money to buy coke and chiz curls like other kids. But because of this, once we are given something, we would be so happy to have it such as if we have new clothes and a pair of shoes once the school begins. Or my mother buys us dresses and jeans to be used for Fiesta celebration.
We are grateful that we’ve been to places and have things that we can only dreamed of when were growing up in Bara today. But because of our upbringing in Bara, we became stronger, self-reliant, and contented of simple things no matter where we are. – Jessa