As a youngster in high school during the age of Roxette, Romnick-Sheryl love team and Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, I belonged to a small group of like-minded classmates who live life of simplicity. Or so how I remembered it. My first year class of St Agness under Mrs Alminaza was composed of students in the upper class who inherited friendships right from the sixth grade section Tulip under Mrs Umusig at Mintal Elementary School.
The game of spin a bottle
It was a time when we started getting invites from classmates who celebrate birthdays at simple parties at home and getting teased at the opposite sex is also blossoming. I knew that the highlight of the simple celebration isn’t the blowing of candles or opening of gifts. But it was the game of spin the bottle where a poor hapless 7-Up bottle gets rotated as many times as possible. Surrounded by eight or nine people, curious yet nervous as the bottle gradually brings itself to a halt. A game master, often times Rodel G. or Irmina B., decides where the bottle’s mouth is pointing and is then asked whether to take errands or answer a special question. The lucky (or unlucky one, depending on who you ask) is pretty much aware about the mechanics of the game; it is intended to create an atmosphere of giggling preteen students manifesting signs of puppy love. Oh, I mentioned about Romnick-Sheryl Regal Films tandem already, right?
“Truth” questions revolve around the following: who is your crush, who is the cutest girl/boy in class, have you loved someone already, and who? “Consequence” punishments typically consist of errands like bringing a flower to someone, tapping him/her at the back or winking at someone cute.
The bottle has pointed towards Fe S., and as usual, she’s very coy about it and pretends she’s not interested to reveal who’s the man of the hour; while the team starts to tease her into submission, team leader Irmina has the loudest voice convincing enough to make anyone put up with any question or command given out there. Fe makes things interesting by blurting out that her admiration goes out to someone outside of the circle of friends. The sudden admission — without naming names — either made the girls even more curious, and guys a bit frustrated none of them got to attract the pretty classmate. Eventually, every one wants to be in the spotlight of being asked who’s their crush in hopes of getting paired to someone they like. But what about if a boy or a girl gets paired to more than one? We’re not yet aware of third-party relationships but certainly we feel slighted if the one used to be teased at us gets anointed with a new partner.
Cecile A and Rodel G., Aldrin E. and Rizza R., Myra S. and John C., occasionally Warly A. and Cecile A. or Ray B and Agnes C. Ahhh, the beauty of my classmates’ creativity when it comes to getting everybody’s feet wet in the world of love affair. (Sorry if my pairing isn’t very accurate, like many items in this article, I am purely speculating.)
Oops, everyone needs to get in the spin-the-bottle “spotlight” before 8:30pm strikes, the then appointed curfew for the youngsters.
First taste of ice box cake
On one occasion, the graduation party at Joanne V’s house could have been more lively if we Rodel and I were there. I was sure that the game of spin the bottle must have been played at that occasion and how the gang must have missed the two of us. There was a heavy downpour at the night of our grade school graduation. For some reason I can’t recall, I handed over an umbrella to someone so he or she can attend Joanne’s party at home. The morning after, I asked Rodel to join me to come to Joanne’s house at Golden Shower street (our street names in Mintal were named after flowers) to pick up the umbrella. Apparently, Joanne left some desserts for us; sweet thing she calls ice box cake. I guess that’s the precursor to mango float and similar variants I come to crave for.
During the grade school-high school transition, from bulingit kids to pretending-to-be-grown-ups, we gradually abandoned the idea of scrap books — notebooks converted into Q and A forms — for fear of being confiscated by overzealous teachers who wish we made better use of our notes and time. The autograph ideas was good while it lasted. But its brilliance soon faded along with stationary bartering business as we shifted into other interests. During our last months in grade school, we found ourselves filling up autographs of mostly female classmates who painstakingly prepared the sheets with questions the night before: from the unsuspecting “Favorite singer” and “Favorite color” to the nosy “Who was your first love” and “Who was your first kiss”. I guess to them, it was a good-natured investment of time and effort to indirectly investigate the love affairs and other personal distinctiveness of otherwise tight-lipped friends. At the time nobody could blame them for such level of curiosity. As a matter of fact, nobody could blame us for eagerly filling those scrapbooks during cleaning time of Mrs Raquel’s Home Economics class.
One day during our junior or senior years, Joanne V. brought up the old sentimental scrap book. Some of those featured in the compilation pleaded Joanne to keep the book to herself than be embarrassed for such naive responses. Love is like a bubble gum, kung mupilit makabuang.
Warlito A., the diminutive but active pal and fellow RASEA scholar from Catalunan Pequeno, Aldrin E., a friend we came to know as a volleyball varsity player at District Meet were the latest additions to this tightly bonded friends composed of classmates, church mates and neighbors. Although new faces were added in our widening circle of friends, some friends have drifted away a bit. Christopher B. and Ray B., two of our cast members of the group Comedian Brothers, coined by the musically-inclined Rodel G. decided to take other routes. Christopher continued his studies in Cebu while Ray transferred from Holy Cross of Mintal to SPED. Who would ever forget the comical Jergen S. and his endless passion for illustrated comics and toy robots of all shapes, sizes and levels of heroism and villainy. With Rodel, Christopher, Ray and Jergen, I became the fifth member of the group called Comedian Brothers, intended to poke fun at others (but mostly at ourselves) during Christmas party and impromptu program of our Music teacher Ms Blanco. Personally, I was just dragged at it but for the sake of fun, I hesitantly joined the four stooges on stage performing acts that I thought was hilarious to the rest of Tulip class.
Quadro de Alas
Nonetheless, the group was still pretty intact, as evidenced by occasional sightings during school breaks such as Simbang Gabi and Easter Sunday masses at Immaculate Conception Parish where I also serve as an altar boy. At our third year in high school, Dante P. who moved from Kumintang Street to somewhere near Joanne V and Grecel S’s. That made him in close proximity with me, Rodel and John C. At the time, we often go to school together; John passes by Rodel’s and the two would whistle their trademark noises to remind me to be ready.
We then pick up Dante and walk towards our Bandera Espanola or Golden Showers. We do this morning and afternoon. Late after classes, when we were dismissed early (or when there is no Citizen’s Armed Training recruitment drills) we go home together retracing steps we did earlier in the day. But we won’t forget to pass by the small store near the street corner whose “chorizo isda” sign Rodel fondly mocks. Our afternoon is usually concluded with a short stop for ice candy and stick of fried bananas, where I often get treated by Rodel and John — something I am indebted big time. It was all laughter in that small spot we occupy, mostly caused by Dante’s endless pranks to passing students or funny recollections mimicking Mr Valero, our class adviser, kicking Jonathan Edward P. or his frequent use of “commodities” and “goods and services” terms in his Economics class. As the de facto leader of the team — with some degree of dissent from Rodel — Dante named our group as Quadro de Alas, for no apparent reason. We were not comedians like what we struggled to be as Comedian Brothers. We never performed any number during convocations, even if Dante could have taught us a few dance steps or Rodel’s prowess as keyboardist would be enough to wow the crowd.
To this day, I loved to recall that simplicity of what we did, even if it sounds overly corny, when we look at them in greater detail.