March 13, 2007

Nostalgia Bloggista: Maryanne Moll

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Name: Maryanne Moll

1. Where did you grow up, and what made that place special?
I grew up in different places: In a large old compound in Naga City, in a smaller house with my parents in a different subdivision in Naga, and in a place called Caraycayon, in Tigaon, Camarines Sur. We stayed in Caraycayon the longest. It's a farming barangay, and my parents owned a farm there. Growing up, I didn't think the place was so special. But looking back on my childhood now, and seeing Caraycayon as it is now, I have realized that it was as simple and pure a place as could be. We had the stereotypes. We had the barangay aswang, the barangay crazy man, the barangay female drunkard who sang and danced when she got rip-roaring drunk, the barangay wise man, the barangay couple who quarelled loudly and nightly, and the barangay spooky person. Now there are hardly any stereotypes in any place, which is perhaps why modern-day fictionists can't help but place a stereotype or two in their stories.

2. What was your favorite tv show, cartoon, or children's show growing up? What did you like about these shows that made them your favorite?
Sesame Street, hands down! In Caraycayon, we did not have TV, but Naga City was an hour away, and my parents would rent Betamax cassettes of Sesame Street and the fairy tales from Walt Disney, and others like Superman, Knight Rider, and the Brat Patrol, plus the cute ones like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Annie, well, Xanadu. However, our Betamax viewing was still regulated -- no watching on school days -- and no watching till very late at night. But when we did watch, we made a day of it, and children of my Dad's farmers would be invited, and then there'd be snacks afterwards. I felt like a socialite!

3. Favorite music group or artist? Most memorable song?
My grade school classmates and I fawned over Menudo. At home, though, we had a turntable that played vinyl records, and I'd play Barry Manilow and Claire dela Fuente and The Electric Ligtht Orchestra and Burt Bacharach. I suppose that's where I started having eclectic taste in music. My favorite song has to be "It's a Hard Knock Life," but the song I will never ever forget from my childhood would be "Xanadu."

4. Share with our readers one of your fondest memories of growing up.
My family lived in a small house that had a huge garden, and this property was located right behind a camp of the Philippine Constabulary. A dear family friend was an officer of the PC and his barracks was right next to the wall that separated my parent's property from the camp. On our side of the wall, we had a stout and fruitless mango tree, a tall and fruitful star-apple tree full of spiders, and a large roofed swing in between. On summer afternoons, I'd run to the swing with my cousins and call out to him, and his head would appear on top of the wall and we'd tell stories and laugh and joke.

And then I'd climb up the mango tree with a book -- sometimes it's Agatha Christie, sometimes it's Nancy Drew -- and a cushion, and then read until the mosquitoes came out. We didn't have TV then, and my parents regulated our Betamax viewing time, and I did not really like my books from school, so I buried myself in other kinds of books. My fondest memory would always be of summer afternoons, on the swing, up in the mango tree, on the stairs inside the house, lying in bed, reading a book not for school but or fun.

Now there are no more swings, and hardly any trees, and no more Philippine Constabulary. When I got a little older I'd spend my summers with my cousins in Legazpi, Albay, which is three hours from Naga, and there I learned how to ride a bike, and I gallivanted with my aunt and my cousins, but my fondest memories growing up would always be of the years when I was younger and when every book I read was an entirely new world.

5. What do you miss from back then that's not available today?
I miss those juice drinks in pyramid-shaped boxes! I don't remember the brand, but maybe it's called the Chrysanthemum drink. They came in three different flavors, and every time my parents took me with them on their overnight bus trips to Manila, they'd buy me one of those together with the food I wanted, and I'd drink it during the trip while looking out the window, and that made the trip special. I also miss those black and white Atari Games that my uncles used to play.

Though I didn't really live in Manila until the turn of the century, I do have fond memories of Manila as I was growing up. I thought it was an overwhelmingly worldly place. I remember living for a few days with my aunt and uncle and cousins in their house in BF Homes Paranaque, and the different lifestyle fascinated me. Food did not have to be cooked inside the house! People can walk into giant stores without really having to buy anything! There were actual cars for hire! I was around four or five years old, before I was into reading every book in sight, and so everything was new and awe-inspiring, and Manila for a provinciana like me was the stuff of legend.

More Nostalgia Bloggista: Abet Lagula

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