When Danao Was My Kind of Small Sleepy Town, Part 4
Tue, July 9, 2002 10:29 pm
A day in the life . . . at Grade III, Section 1
Kaming Danawanon, Mar-Apr 2002
The ringing of a bell signaled the end of a 30-minute break. Then children would stampede back to their classrooms in a rush.
Social Studies was our next subject. Mrs. Ypil for nearly a month taught us everything she knew about our town of Danao and the province of Cebu.
She loved to relate heroic deeds of Spanish time Dana- wanons who built the town’s old church and about brave guerrillas who valiantly fought the Japanese soldiers during the war.
She made us memorize all the names of town officials. Ms. Ypil must have done a good job as we remember those names very well.
At one time we had a field trip in conjunction with our lesson. The whole class walked across the street to the town hall and took a peek at town officials at work. The mayor then was Beatriz Durano, vice mayor – Rosita Almendras.
The 6 councilors were Mariano Banzon, Justino Palma, Jose Pantoja, Olympio Alerta, Gregorio Penas, and Leonardo Enriquez.
The municipal secretary was Atty. Jesus Navarro, Treasurer, Gervacio Alvez , Muncipal Health Officer was Dr. Jose Laude and Chief of Police was Romualdo Romagos.
These people were Danao’s VIPs in 1959. Town councilors then were receiving a princely salary of about P100.00 a month, attending one session each week.
The police force of Danao must have been the most relaxed in the entire country.
For being able to impound a bicycle with an expired plate number or making arrest for violating the “hantak” or illegal gambling ordinance was such a big deal that one could expect a medal or a promotion in rank.
There were no more than ten policemen keeping the peace in the whole town with a population of approximately 12,000.
Among them were Emigio Alvaro, Panfilo Ramos, Arsenio Hermosilla, Matias Casas, Rizalino Paring, Marcial Munoz, Paul Barriga, Joaquin Perez, Damian Manulat and Quiroz.
Although their monthly pay was only P80.00 a month, the town cops of Danao were very honest and righteous individuals. Not one was accused of extorting money from drivers or vendors.
Rarely was a crime committed except for occasional fistfights in the tubaan. Child abuse or child molestation was not a crime requiring police action.
Although rape was rumored to have happened, a rape victim would never run to the police for help as it would bring a lifetime of shame. (There was a person in town, though, known to be a serial rapist, Torio Manlulugos, and he did serve some time in jail.)
Paltik making was people’s livelihood and could not be touched by the police.
Because the policemen didn’t have much to do but sit all day with eyes fixed at the far horizon, apparently watching for passing boats or possibly counting the few trucks that passed by, Danao cops had developed huge bellies.
They would become very energetic and in high spirits when they get assigned to barrio fiestas. To prevent trouble from happening they had to make their presence visible in barrio fiestas or any combera or bankete.
As their way of establishing rapport with barrio folks the policemen had to “eat the house one by one” during fiestas, as Joe Rom once said.
People then would make joke when referring to an easy job: “hayahay pa’s pulis sa Danao.”
Around this time Danao had a new town hall. With the vice-mayor being a sister-in-law of President Garcia, Danao easily obtained aid from the government to have a new town hall built.
Nothing was left of the old municipio (presently the site of the children’s playground). Not even the monument of the unknown soldier was preserved.
The town in 1959 neither had a public nor a private dental practitioner.
If one had a dental problem he or she would take a bus to Cebu City, i.e. if they could afford it, or they go to an arbolaryo instead.
There was in town a popular arbolarlyo who was known to pull out, in a split second, an aching molar with his bare dirty fingers and a spoon – bloodless and painless, as many had claimed. No need of antibiotics or pain medications.
A patient could also ask for some herbal concoction to relieve a tooth ache. This quick dental service could cost only a liter of tuba or 20¢.
Mrs. Ypil said we should never go to an arbolaryo but to a real dentist.
Every year one dentist and an aide would come to the Danao Central School to provide dental check-up or do tooth extraction for nearly 1000 pupils.
So, she made it compulsory for all of us to see the public dentist when our schedule came.
While watching a dentist doing his job of extracting a bad tooth, and seeing classmates grimacing in pain, a few would faint at the sight or pretend to faint.
Then they could go home and save themselves from the agony and pain in the hands of a dentist.
I was one of those who developed a phobia of sitting in a dental chair. The day the dentist came to our school, I had a loose tooth that could have been a good candidate for extraction, but I decided to play dentist myself.
I tied a string to the loose tooth, tied the other end to the door knob, then . . slam-bang . . . door closed, tooth gone. I didn’t have to go to the dentist then.
Whenever I had a tooth pulled out, I religiously followed a ritual learned from my Nanay. I would place or hide the extracted tooth on a buri plant – in between a cluster of thorny stems. As told, I would utter these words “I leave you this tooth and make one grow as strong as these thorns. Amen”
On a hill near our house (where the Baptist Church now stands) was my special buri plant. It had at least five of my teeth.
Time to time I would come to the hill, look at the buri, check my teeth sank deeper into the plant.
Years later a church was erected. At that time I really hated the Baptist Church for cutting my buri plant that held 5 of my teeth.
By 11:30 a.m. the morning class would be over and we walked home for our lunch break. Those who lived rather far stayed behind and ate their ‘baon’ somewhere in the school ground.
Though our house was barely a few blocks away, occasionally, I brought ‘baon’ myself.
I liked the taste of corn grits wrapped in banana leaves with an ‘inun-unan bangsi’ on top. I would join Juanito Cane, Roman Aroma (from Looc) and Zosimo Sabas of Pulang Yuta, climb a tree and ate our lunch sitting on a tree branch.
When I get home for a lunch my Mama would always ask me to run to the market, to buy sari-sari vegetables with only 5¢.
I would run fast to the store of Henio Bayot, one of three vegetable vendors in town.
He had a space at the market stocked with fresh and a good variety of vegetables and spices.
Bayot was not really his family name, but he talked and walked like a woman, so he earned his name. He had several kids though.
The sari-sari vegetables that my Mama always asked me to buy consisted of a small bunch of kamonggay, some alugbate, camote tops, a small cut of gabi or ubi, a yellow and white calabasa – everything for 5 centavos.
Henio Bayot was a nice person for a market vendor.
He would not get irritated when pressed for pakapin, which I always did, such as, one or two green onions and a green pepper
to go with the sari-sari, at no added cost..
My mama would then make one big caldero of vegetable stew putting in as subak one or two tulingan tinap-anan or sinugbang tamarong. And on the side, there always was the indispensable ginamos.
And that was a good healthy lunch for a family of 8. Occasionally there was only ginamos and nothing else to go with the mais.
When it happened, our faces would squirm looking at the ginamos, but we just ate whatever was on the table.
When my Tatay had sacks of dried copra sold in Cebu which happened once a month we could expect some special treat.
We would have some tiny portion of pork adobo or perhaps a good carabao stew or my favorite dugo-dugo.
I would be ecstatic if there was manok with kamonggay scented with tanglad.
Generally, lunch was fish and vegetables but some days Tatay could come up with a few surprises.
If one of the pigs looked ill, it was then slaughtered and we would be having adobo for days or weeks.
In some rare occasions we did get some special treat buying food from a restaurant or eateries in the market, usually at Etiang- Hipolito’s Restaurant.
For 20 centavos one could buy a plate of pansit or a bowl of dugo-dugo or perhaps paklay. And for 30 centavos there was a good size cut of pork adobo or carabao kasahos for which Hipolito was famous for.
Other people kept away from Hipolito’s Kan-anan because he was known to have tuberculosis and he coughed all the time while his saliva spread all over the food.
I didn’t mind it at all and continued to patronize Hipolito’s because it was cheap and closer to our house. Besides his Junior was a friend and classmate.
(Part 5 – to be continued . . .)