Two years ago I participated in a study conducted by The Canadian Longitudinal Survey on Aging (CLSA) It is a study where the CLSA gathers information on approximately 50, 000 men and women throughout Canada, between the ages of 45 and 85 for 20 years. The changes in biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle, and economical – all of these are factored in to understand how an individual or in combination, impacted the health maintenance in disease and disability development as people aged.
The study would have to establish a benchmark, therefore, CLSA conducted health tests on me for everything. I like that, because, at least, I would know which part of my body are susceptible to early deterioration.
One that stands out is my diminishing short term memory. And that explains why I sometimes lost my car in the parking lot. Why I always have doubts that I misspelled words. Why I wouldn’t recall at a snap of a finger certain name and faces… quite embarrassing, sometimes. Why I am not snappy anymore on recalling concrete details of what I saw, heard, or read. Why I am not that savvy anymore on “trivia” things.
I have the consolation, however. I rediscovered and reconfirmed that my long term memory is still intact and works fine. And that explains why events from 40 to 50 years ago – their details and themes, the majority of them are still with me. It’s like I have a certain compartment in my brain that store these things like a hard disk, that I can retrieve information at a moment’s notice.
One of the repositories of my long term memories, then, was my blog “i.jfernando.ph” of “i.dot.ph,” one of the Philippines Blog Sites then. When they closed shop, I housed my long term memories at (www.jessfernando1.wordpress.com), my current blog. Some of my long term memories in this blog deal with my juvenile escapades. Some were sad, but most of them were funny, which I can still vividly recall.
When I got into Facebook, as linkages of friends pops up here and there, some names rang like bells, which triggered my curiosity. Long time ago, I attached events to these names. Some of them were my classmates in the elementary and high school, or just a school mates. In this blog, on top of my head are three: Larry Wisco, Delor Lauchang, and Lutgardo Evangelista. There are others, of course, but they would be the subject of my future blogs.
Larry Wisco, was my classmate in Grade 5, I think. I remembered their house to be just the opposite of the Central Baliwag Elementary School, I know her Mom as a teacher and his Dad worked then at the Baliwag Municipality Office. The Central school could only accommodate up to Grade 4. So the pupils would have to go to the Baliwag Intermediate School to finish Grade 5 – 6.
I remembered Larry as a tall, skinny lad. He was a friendly, chatty sort of guy, with comely bearing. Could be, because he always wore starchy ironed clothes. Kids were drawn to Larry as he always mesmerized us of his personal stories totally different from the life stories of most of us, the ordinary kids. As a naïve boy then, I thought any words he said have weights.
One day he saw me eating this peeled green mango with red shrimp paste (bagoong) on top. I chomped the mango, which would make anyone salivates with envy. Larry came over, and said, “You know how those “bagoong” are made? I said, no. Why? Small shrimps are crushed with soiled feet, which can become the home of the maggots. I puked out. I tossed out the mango, fast. Larry chuckled as he left.
I had a chance texting Larry via Messenger of Facebook. I don’t think he even remembered me. More so, that mango event. He lives in Las Vegas now. I was inclined to tell him that story, but I thought he would be just wracking his brain to recall it. I dropped off a hint, though, to hold him suspense.
Neither did I had any personal interaction with Delor, nor he had been a classmate of mine either in the elementary or in high school; but we were school mates. Our first ever interaction was two years ago after 40 plus years. He appeared on my Facebook. As a kid, I looked up to him as my role model. His name clicked, so I texted him, “Who is your valedictorian when you graduated from high school?” I asked. I knew who his answer would be, just that I wanted to elicit a neutral reply. After all, I could be ignored, as he might wonder who the heck I am. “Tolentino Moya”, Delor texted back. “We were school mate, then”, I said. And that started the flurries of “updates” of people we both know and the town gossips.
I said Delor was my role model, because on weekends, as I passed by the “Ben Radio Shop”, his father’s shop, which sat beside the Henson Theatre, as I do my errands to town, I saw him always playing car toys of different kinds. I envied him. I thought then, only rich kids can play car toys. For a kid whose toys consist of banging stone and a spoon, I wished I could be able to play a car toy like him. One day, I saw him driving a car toy cruising along at P. Enrile St. (Benigno Aquino Ave., now) in front of Henson, as he was being chased by his father. I said, when would I ever have a car toy like that…?
Like Delor, I didn’t have any interaction with Lutgardo Evangelista. He didn’t even know me. But, he inspired me.
I was taking up my Secretarial Course then at the Bulacan Community College, in 1969 – 1970, Lou, as he was fondly called, always hanged out at the school. I was not sure if he was a student or just love to be there. One day, as he passed by the foyer at the entrance of the school, one student called him, “Lou, he said, “can you teach me how to interpret this poem “Trees” by Robert Frost. ”Yeah, sure”, Lou said.
My passion for writing had just began then, and I was curious how one can extract insights, subtext, and meaning beyond the lyrics of the poem. So, I eavesdropped and listened. I was impressed of the method Lou used in explaining every phrase of the “Trees”. He started with the general view, then going to the particular, then to the spiritual. And the metaphor he employed resonated so well. The full essence of his insights retained in my memory, so that after 30 years, I used it in one of my essays for my column, “Undertow Ripple” in the Filipino Journal, entitled “Parhelia”.
When Lou showed up on my Facebook, last year, I sent him a friend request. I considered it a big fluke, when he confirmed. Then, I learned from his posts, that he is a priest.