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26 February 2007

early boyhood friends

my early boyhood friends were either neighbors in sampaloc or classmates from santo tomas.

tito tony and tita josie briola alejo, friends of my father at the old civil service commission, rented an apartment unit owned by members of my grandfather’s first family. the unit was located right behind our house. the alejos had several children but i was particularly close to ronnie, the alejos’ third child, because he was about my age. ronnie was particularly remarkable because he played all kinds of sports and he was some kind of a bully in the neighborhood. he also won fistfights with children from the other city streets. it didn’t matter whether i was studying in a private school and he was studying in a public school (p. gomez or juan luna, i think). he became one of my early boyhood friends because he was my exact opposite. ronnie introduced me to kids from don quijote, maria cristina, m. de la fuente, dapitan, dos castillas, miguelin, constancia, algeciras, antipolo and pi y margal streets. my parents had no idea that daily, during siesta time, ronnie would drag me to play “tumbang preso,” “patintero,”” siyato,”“jolens,” “teks,” and “tanzan” with children from the other sampaloc streets. my father was working in his ermita office and my mother was usually asleep after lunch. quite often, i managed to sneak out of the house without leaving a trace. this was all happening between 1972 and 1977.

but i stopped playing with ronnie and when i began serving mass as an acolyte of u.s.t.’s santissimo rosario parish. ronnie and i saw each other even less frequently after his mother passed away. after tito tony remarried, ronnie and his siblings left their apartment unit and transferred to another house along don quijote near espana and ramon magsaysay high school. when tito tony died, his second wife sold their house and ronnie was forced to live with relatives elsewhere. i do not know where he is today.

other than ronnie, i also had other playmates. quite remarkably, i still remember their names: chippy and jonathan calata; chito soller; jouel and lynette marasigan lava (originally from isabela); vicky and raymund burgos; winnie madarang (originally from cagayan); alvin and albert realuyo (originally from oas, albay); sergio lazatin (originally from pampanga); catherine de leon and her friend mary jane cruz (she became jamie rivera, one-time miss saigon in london’s west end and contemporary philippine popular music’s “inspirational diva”); ramil perez (originally from batangas); nonoy singson (originally from cagayan), eric tierro (originally from olongapo; his sister corazon became bb. pilipinas runner-up to 1984 bb. pilipinas universe and miss universe runner-up desiree verdadero); joel and ana lopez uy (originally from aklan); and irene, iris and richie valdez (originally from zamboanga city). one particular friend, rodel pelobello, passed away when i was eleven or twelve. i also remember having friends whose family names i do not remember: rizza (who was run over by a truck) and another ronnie (who migrated to america with his family during the late 1970s). between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. we all played soccer baseball across our house. other times, we played hide-and-seek, “piko” and “step-no.” during each game, decorative plants, trees, cars, windshields, glass windows and people who pass through were attacked severely. quite often, we were scolded by our parents and the rest of the neighborhood. but we simply did not care. as kids, we took each verbal lashing in stride. we just reminded ourselves that nobody can stop us from playing street games anytime. and play, we always did.

in early primary school, i had three close friends: angelica ilagan, nicolas acal and rodolfo vilan jr. i do not know exactly how the three became close to me. but i faintly remember that angelica, nicky and rodolfo were my classmates since prep or grade one. we ate merienda together during recess time and talked over the telephone before bedtime. but one day, angelica drowned in a beach when we were eight. nicolas went to maryland with his family when we were nine. rodolfo migrated to ontario, canada when we were ten. suddenly, all three friends were gone. i was severely traumatized and i did not quite recover.

my early boyhood friends are no longer in sampaloc. these days, many of them are living probably in north america or clustered in affluent metro manila villages. meanwhile, i choose to remain in sampaloc because i want to remember. i yearn to see my friends playing in the city streets again from time to time.

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Call for Submissions to the 46th Dumaguete National Writers Workshop

National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo has announced a March 31 deadline for applications for fellowships to the 46th National Writers Workshop to be held in Dumaguete City from May 7 to 25.

Panelists this year are Gemino Abad, Alfred Yuson, Susan Lara, Anthony Tan, DM Reyes, Marjorie Evasco, and others. They will compose the revolving panel of writers together with National Artist for Literature Edith Lopez Tiempo, and resident panelists C�sar Ru�z Aquino, Bobby Flores Villasis, and Ernesto Superal Yee.

Fifteen (15) fellowships are open for young writers all over the country.

The first screening panel, composed of the workshop's resident writers, selects the writing fellows for the summer based on the manuscripts submitted by the applicants. These selected manuscripts are forwarded to the Director of the Workshop, who does the final screening and formally approves the final lineup of writing fellows.

The writing fellowship covers lodging for the full 22 days of the duration of the entire workshop, a modest stipend, one-way fare reimbursement, and workshop manuscripts and reading materials.

The applicant must submit original manuscripts consisting of at least three to five short (3-5) stories, or three to five (3-5) essays/creative non-fiction, or two (2) one-act plays, or seven to ten (7-10) poems. Stories, poems, plays, and essays in English are preferred. Only unpublished manuscripts are accepted. Works which have previously won in literary contests will not be accepted.

Other requirements include an application letter addressed to Workshop Director Dr. Edith Tiempo; a diskette or CD containing the various submitted literary works encoded in Microsoft Word; a recommendation letter from a renowned writer or literature teacher; two 2x2 pictures; and a brief biodata or r�sum�.

These must be sent before the 31 March 2007 deadline to Dr. Edith Lopez Tiempo, National Writers Workshop Director, c/o College Assurance Plan, 2nd Floor, CAP Building, Rizal Boulevard, 6200 Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines.

Accepted fellows are usually notified by postal mail, or email, or by phone call, although the announcement is usually published by major Philippine dailies.

Interested parties may also apply for sit-in or auditing privileges.

The National Writers Workshop was established by Edith and Edilberto Tiempo in 1962, making it the longest-running creative writing workshop in Asia. The 2007 edition is sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Silliman University, and College Assurance Plan, in coordination with the Creative Writing Foundation Inc. and the Dumaguete Literary Arts Service Group, Inc. Donors to the fellowship program include Senators Edgardo J. Angara and Mar Roxas as well as former NCCA Chairman Jaime Laya and Ms. Erlinda Panlilio.

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Blogger Nostalgia Manila said...

Really love reading your stories. Ako rin, I often reminisce and remember hanging out with my good neighborhood friends. Kakamis talaga.

Fri Mar 02, 10:28:00 AM 2007  
Blogger wendell said...

it's one of those things that will never come back. i reckon, most of my boyhood friends will not even remember my name. but i've been keeping journals for ages. that's how i remembered certain things.

hope everything is okay up there in the northeast. it was supposed to be the end of summer and the beginning of fall here in canberra. but we just had a hailstorm. lots of ice stones (1 meter deep) in the city centre and inside my uni. buildings, retaurants and malls were closed for a day.

i'm still cleaning up my drafts, working double time. ill be teaching in diliman in june. take care over there.

thanks for dropping by!

Fri Mar 02, 11:08:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hei prof..i wonder if you still remember me..ang makulit na freshie.asan ka na at this time?I miss your poemss. I'm taking up lit..exempted ko siya. Am here in PMA nga pala..just in case you are not in knowledge..can't contact maj..so i had to find a way to reach my favorite prof and writer!

katrina paula cruz
2001 28038

Sun Mar 04, 10:50:00 AM 2007  
Blogger wendell said...

kat, of course i remember you. im actually surprised that you didn't pursue your film career (remember the class joke about your real name as the perfect "screen name"). i didnt know you are in PMA. one of my grade school classmates was in the top 5 of his PMA batch ages back. he is now with the army and his name is jun torres. ernesto torres jr. he was the brightest student in my grade 5/6 class. check my friendster accounts and you will find maj over there. she sends email from time to time. hang in there. do pray for me so i can wrap up my studies here. i miss teaching back home. i hope to teach in diliman again by june 2007. stay cool.


Sun Mar 04, 01:35:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Nick said...

Hey Wendell.
Yes, I'm back.
I enjoy your series about your boyhood in Sampaloc. I'm truly amazed at your ability to remember all those names.
Keep on writing those pieces.
We'll keep on reading them.

Mon Mar 05, 01:36:00 AM 2007  
Blogger wendell said...


great to hear from you.

i've been trying to put these sampaloc narratives together, just before i end up forgetting these details.

hope everything is well. thanks for dropping by!!


Mon Mar 05, 01:55:00 AM 2007  
Blogger exskindiver said...

hi wendell,
i was in nick's site and then for some reason, i got pulled into your site.
the amazing thing is, as i was reading--i was quite reminded of myself. my mind is like a steel trap. i remember people from kindergarten to college like my brain has nothing better to remember. i am 40 years old (i surmise we are about the same age) but our paths never crossed because i was from maryknoll GS and HS and UP college. But when you spoke of the floods--i was instantly tranported to the Lagusnilad underpass near Lawton. that always flooded.
(I did my first year at UP Padre Faura for Physical Therapy, but eventually got chased away by--what else? the floods. I eventually switched to Diliman and became a teacher.)
But i digress. As i was reading, i was happy to see you mention Mrs. Sylvia Fernandez. I knew her a long time ago. She was, as you described, a lovely woman. She had two children a daughter named Tetel and a son named Zal. I have since lost touch with them. She was so articulate and it made me smile to read about her here. I believe her husband passed away many years ago but I wonder how she is?
come and stop by my blog when you have the time.
also, i am friends with a girl here named clarissa her nickname is Bon, I bet you know her because she is from UST high, about our age, but went to UP intarmed. I don't know what her maiden name is...but when i see her tomorrow, i'll ask her.
chesca silva

Mon Mar 05, 05:04:00 AM 2007  
Blogger wendell said...


yup yup, i know tetel (christle) and zal (gonzalo) fernandez. they lived a block away from my family's old house in sampaloc. im so sorry to hear about their dad's passing away. mrs. sylvia fernandez is one of my major influences. i will always be grateful to her.

i know bonbon (clarissa) benitez. i dont think she will remember me because i was an average student in high school. she was a year ahead of me in high school. she was the president of the UST high school junior red cross society in 1981-1982. but i know bonbon;s friends: fe doreen bulan, eloida ballelos, cristina pangilinan, teila matilda avendano and several others. they were my high school idols of sorts. bonbon was very smart.

i had friends from intarmed but i do not know where they are right now: jason de villa, tem de villa, oscar florendo jr, linette linsangan and a few others. my mind is like a data base when it is provoked by nostalgia. weird talaga.

thanks for dropping by!


Mon Mar 05, 01:29:00 PM 2007  
Blogger exskindiver said...

hi wendell,
jenny n. was indeed a good friend of mine from maryknoll.
about PT,
i did not finish PT as my switch to flood free UP diliman made me go into Early Childhood Education.
keep in touch.

Mon Mar 05, 10:57:00 PM 2007  
Blogger wendell said...

chesca, jenn was my seatmate in two or three classes during my freshman year.

you must remember robinson soria, a well loved prof at UP college of education. i had heaps of students from UP educ. they took exploratory writing, humanities and literature classes under me. some of these students from your generation are: patrick reidenbach, romeo padiernos, and a few others.

Mon Mar 05, 11:09:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous JohnBraun said...

lUgnCK write more, thanks.

Mon Nov 05, 03:06:00 AM 2007  

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