Ode to a playground

Ode to a playground [1]

A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.

According to a friend, I existed almost exclusively in the South – Southern Metro Manila, that is. Las Pinas was pretty much my playground, specifically a small subdivision called Sterling Life Homes. The subdivision itself is nestled in a clump of other subdivisions and whenever people asked me where I lived, I’d just rattle off the names of the surrounding places – Pamplona Park, Remarville, Philamlife Village, Patricia Homes – and they’d know the general location.

Las Pinas City, if you feel the need to imagine it, is a collection of villages and subdivisions – a passel, if you will, of girly-named communities (i.e. Pilar Village, Angela Village, and the aforementioned Patricia Homes). [2] It almost feels like it was overrun by a developer bent on subdividing an entire city at some point. Wait. Oh right, it totally was. It was the starting point of Camella’s and Manny Villar’s plans for world domination, one identical townhouse at a time.

Anyway, back to Sterling. Like all other suburbias at the time, Sterling was a quiet and homey place. Kids played in the streets, disappearing for lunch and siesta at noon, but still got tanned to a crisp. We walked, biked, ran everywhere on those streets. My father would pass by in his tricycle, bearing passengers in and out of the subdivision and he’d nod at me or hand me and kuya some coins for merienda. The basketball court, whenever the bigger kids were at school or elsewhere, was ours to play in. My memories of it mostly contain sections of the court where the concrete had buckled under the strain of giant burrowing roots, rusty swing sets under the giant trees, and the peeling paint on the wooden backboards.

I must admit, my most vivid and fondest memories of the old playground include punching a playmate’s nose (of course it bled but he never told on me, God bless him and his ideas of machismo) and throwing a rock at a little bully’s head (of course it bled and the little brat told on me, but my grandmother, God bless her, hid me and dealt with the wrath of his mom). They had it coming, if you asked that nine year old tomboy.

I’m sure the playground is still there, though some of the vacant lots we had used for hide and seek and langit-lupa have been turned into townhouses.

What isn’t there any more, or at least not as I remember it, is the house itself. A fire took it in the wee hours of the morning in the summer before I attended college. I don’t care to recount that depressing tale here, but if you’re curious, then you can find it here.

Anyway, I don’t exist exclusively in the South any more, but sometimes I miss those days of carefree adventures and afternoon games. I miss trying to sneak into the house using a small hole in the old sari-sari store we had. I have outgrown holes the size of bond papers (letter-sized) as well as sneaking into the house. Now it’s bills, dues, and assortments of fees. The side effect of adulthood, perhaps. Still, like that guy in the Twilight Zone episode Walking Distance, we have to learn to look ahead to find happiness in the places where we haven’t looked and once in a while, look back at the past with fondness.

1. Writing prompt from The Daily Post.
2. BF Resort, one of the bigger villages, despite not having a girly name named its streets after beauty queens.


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