Thursday, January 25, 2007


When I was about ten or eleven years old, my sister Inday and I had seven close friends; regular playmates who lived within a house or two from either direction of our house in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Two of them were sisters — Baby who was the same age as my sister, and Nena who was a year my junior.

Whenever we had no school, we played from morning till lunchtime. We’d rendezvous again around four o’clock when it began to cool off a bit. Sometimes, when we couldn’t wait until the late afternoon, we’d play inside our house. Hide and seek was our favorite. And since it was our house, I knew every nook and cranny where I could vanish without a trace. When the taya or “it” guy started counting off to twenty, everybody would scramble off to find a place to hide. I would take advantage of this frenzied commotion by grabbing Nena’s hand to take her with me to my secret hiding place.

During the first two times, we would just sit next to each other inside that cramped closet and remain quiet until it was time for us to come out and join the others. However, by summer’s end, I had become brave enough to plant a quick kiss on her cheek. I never told anyone about it and neither did she. It remained a secret we fondly shared.

When we were among the company of everyone else; I hardly looked at Nena or speak to hear directly. I was afraid someone might pick up on it and start to tease us about it. However, in those rare moments we shared alone together, nothing else mattered or existed but her. On top of it all, we needn’t utter a single word to each other. I guess it was because we were both unsure how to deal with what we were feeling.

Nena’s parents, like my mother hailed from Bicol and were very close to my parents; similarly, her elder siblings were close with mine. Nena was the fifth and youngest child. Her brothers and sisters inherited their mother’s fair complexion, while Nena took after his father as evidenced by her darker skin tone which I adored.

Everything was just wondrous until one night while we were waiting in line at a procession to take the statue of the Fatima from a neighbor’s house and bring it to another. As we were waiting for the other people to assemble and start the procession, I foolishly engaged in some rough play with two other friends. I got so involved that I didn’t realize the lit candle I held in my right hand accidentally set fire to Nena’s hair; she was standing on the line directly in front of me and behind her sister. Luckily, an alert adult noticed and immediately put it out before it caused greater damage.

Nena was incensed; her anger exacerbated by the boisterous taunting of the other kids. She gave me one menacing look before she ran home crying. That was the very last time she ever looked at me.

After a day or two, I started going to Nena’s house under the guise of checking out what his big brother was up to. Understandably, her brother would greet me with a bewildered look etched on his face; he was after all my older brothers’ friend, not mine. No one had any inkling it was Nena I wanted to see, except for Nena herself, and this was the reason she never came down to their living room. And later on, whenever I would catch her by their door or down in their living room, she would dash upstairs as soon as she noticed my presence.

I never enjoyed Nena’s company ever again, for shortly thereafter, they moved to Quezon City. So there I was, already a casualty of romance, though a mere pre-pubescent youngster.

posted by Señor Enrique at 5:24 AM


Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Eric,

So, no follow-up? No chance meeting over the years?

There has to be one, right? =)

Excited and grinning,


January 25, 2007 6:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Unfortunately, Hb00, there is no sequel to speak of. My sister Inday would know about this "puppy love" only now if she were to read this entry since I never talked about it with anyone. I will ask her later if she somehow had ran into any of them over the years.

But what's interesting, now that I thought about it, I had a Puerto Rican girlfriend in NY who looked like Nena.

January 25, 2007 6:31 AM  

Blogger Belle TH said...

eric, i bet the feelings were mutual. too bad, you didn't pursue hard enough. am dying pa naman to know the rest of the story.

am from bikol, too. by the way, you write well.

January 25, 2007 7:22 AM  

Blogger Francesca said...

ah those were the days, when senor enrique was still young ang handsome, lol

hopefully mag meet kayo in the future, even in gray hair and a cane, hihihi.

January 25, 2007 7:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Belle TH -- Bicol has lots of pretty belles :)

Guess I was too young to be smart enough to think about pursuing her. The pains of puppy love ... hehehe.

January 25, 2007 7:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Francesca!

Wouldn't be surprised to find her someday still looking beautiful, while I old and gray (with a bamboo cane) ... hahaha!

I'm sure she is happily married.

January 25, 2007 7:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was an awkward stage, so Nena didn't really know how to handle both her shame (from her burnt hair) and feelings for you.

Three years ago, I had the experience of seeing my first love again after more than 20 years. Tumanda na rin siya siyempre, hehehe. We had a bitter separation before, but that reunion healed the wounds and put closure to everything. We are now good friends and we both look forward to meeting each other's families soon.

January 25, 2007 9:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Nice to know you had a wonderful closure, Rhoda. I guess time actually heals all wounds. Also, we tend to look at things differently once we're not so emotionally involved.

Hmmm ... wonder how your hubby will react upon meeting him?

January 25, 2007 10:49 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Another beautiful story.

You are right about Bicol's beauties... I am married to one! :-)

I am always disappointed when I meet an ex or an old forgotten friend. It seems they or I changed too much. The fire is long gone and it makes no sense.
I prefer to remember them like they were in a distant past.
I even avoid going back to cities and places were I was intensely happy. I am always disillusioned because the magic is gone…

January 25, 2007 11:22 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it nostalgic to think about our boyhood days man ! When I was in grade 2 I kissed a girl classmate of mine when everyone was rushing out of the door to see the fire breaking out in the neighborhood. Problem is the teacher saw me and I got into big time trouble :) She told my mom who was her co teacher at school. The girl's mom was also a teacher :) It turned out both moms liked us to be paired anyways LOL.. everytime there was a school folk dance, we were paired together - talk about parental consent :) I split from the school at grade 5 and forgotten about her since then :)

January 25, 2007 11:51 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww, your first heartbreak. I have the same experience as Rhoda. Reconnected with my first love after 20 years and we also had a bitter separation. But we also patched things up, after 20 years. What a coincidence.

January 25, 2007 12:55 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm sure she's a beautiful Bicolana, Sidney :)

I can relate to your sentiments. There are times it is better to just enjoy the past for the enchanting memories they evoke. Revisits can be disappointing at times.

January 25, 2007 1:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Aw shucks, that's sweet, BW!

Unfortunately, had that happened to me and word got out, I would have never heard the end of it from my brothers Taba and Pepsi. They truly excelled as a team in teasing. So consider yourself lucky for not having such annoying big brothers :)

January 25, 2007 1:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Irene -- the heartbreak kid, I was. But that makes the 4th installment; just one more to go :)

But I assume yours and Rhoda's were more of a teenage or early 20's kind of love in which you were at least more cognizant of the various emotions at play. Puppy love can be either perplexing or non-significant depending on the affected parties.

January 25, 2007 1:17 PM  

Blogger wernicke said...

That's a cute story. :) I remember when I was 7 years old, my sister and I had a playmate, a boy, who was also my classmate in kinder. Once while we were playing at their house, he stole a kiss from me. He got quite a beating from me using his mom's walis tambo no less! :) Even up to now, whenever I see my kinder and grade school classmates, they couldn't forget that I was that boy's crush. Hehe.

January 25, 2007 2:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, young love; how sweet it is. I had such experience before but like in your case, I got turned off when the young girl I had a great crush on started talking about dwarfs or dwendes and how she put them inside the bottle and died three days later.

But it felt good at first.

January 25, 2007 2:49 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

Wow, Eric. I thought I was the only one who have this kind of childhood thing with a girl.

Come to think of it, it's also like being in-love. The excitement in seeing her and the loneliness you feel when she's not around. The embarassment and the awkwardness that comes from the realization of the feeling. I bet you did feel hurt too whenever she hid from you. And heartbroken when they moved away.

Experiences like these are gold. They help build an understanding within us that are always applicable in our adult relationships.

A child's love is like a music in the wind. We just have no control over it as much as we didn't have control of our lives back then. A bittersweet symphony.

January 25, 2007 3:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sayang tsk tsk tsk!

January 25, 2007 4:09 PM  

Blogger bugsybee said...

Hi Eric! Cute, cute, cute story but I want an ending (preferably happy) so please look for her. :) My father had a story like this; when he became a widower, he looked for the girl (who we both codenamed "Big Bird", he he) and although they met again and dated for a few years, I guess they found out that they were "not meant for each other."

January 26, 2007 12:06 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Ah the pure innocence of childhood sweethearts inspires me to write tales full of romance and flowery words! Since February is fast approaching, I would actually like to blog about my high school story ;) but I'd like to find the most respectful approach.

Yes, it happened in Bicol, involving another lovely lass of that land. Bicol belles, as my Manileña friend (with a tinge of insecurity) would claim, are as spicy as siling labuyo, as fiery as Mayon volcano and as wild as the yearly Pacific typhoons. (Descriptions apply to the men too--ahem!)

Your story really needs an ending. It may be like in the story "Dead Stars", but it may be something else. Maybe you might rethink your single blessedness. Hehehe...

January 26, 2007 12:46 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a sad cute story! it would be really interesting if you'd try to look for her... see what she's like now. =)

walang naglakas ng loob lumapit sakin except for one when i was in high school, at ako yung masama kasi mas bata sya sakin... hehehe! but i have come to respect him in time and we've remained friends up to now.

January 26, 2007 5:45 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank God, Nena wasn't as quick with those housekeeping objects, Wernicke, or I wouldn't have seen the age of 12 ... hahaha! She was really furious that I had set her hair on fire.

January 26, 2007 8:54 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh no, Major Tom. You got one of those "lovely as long as they don't open their mouth" sort of personality. With that choice of subject, I probably would have gotten scared of her. :)

January 26, 2007 8:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was just as enraged, Rey, and would leave their house quietly huffing and puffing. However, later on, I felt like going back just to get a quick glimpse of her.

Without understanding my emotions, I just got into a love-hate thing with her because of her rejection of me :(

But now that you put it into such poetic manny, I am more inspired now to look back at that period with a fond longing.

Thanks, Rey :)

January 26, 2007 9:01 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Okay lang 'yon, Melai. Buti nga ganon nangyari kasi malay mo, pwede ding maging maaga kami nagasawa at di pa tapos ng high school ay may anak na ... hahaha.

January 26, 2007 9:03 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I know, Bugsybee, but as Sidney had suggested, perhaps. tis better to leave things as they are and just cherish the memories.

Galing naman ng papa mo :) At least he had the good fortune to see her again and catch up.

January 26, 2007 9:05 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

With your poetic prose, Dave, I'm sure even the raunchiest episodes would seem glorious and dignified once you penned the words. But those Bicolanas do possess irressistable charms, don't they?

Yes, I ought to rethink such blessedness ... hahaha

January 26, 2007 9:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think nowadays, Carla, kids are bolder than we care to admit it. In my time, naku! Talagang nakaka-nerbiyos lumapit sa mga crush, especially when you have two older brothers like I do who would tease me to no end when it comes to subjects of puppy love.

But it's truly wonderful how you and your childhood admirer had eventually become ver good friends :)

January 26, 2007 9:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahem, another bicolana here.

What a cute story. I'm an avid reader of your blog, by the way. Keep 'em posts coming pls.

January 26, 2007 4:27 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Anonymous! Glad you enjoy them :)

January 26, 2007 5:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what sweet memory... no contact anymore?

January 28, 2007 12:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

None, Bing, ever since they moved. It was indeed a childhood experience that I will cherish forever; However, not really that inspired to search and make contact.

January 28, 2007 7:54 PM  

Blogger grumpyurbanslacker said...

hey senor enrique,

sorry to belabor the point, but surely you have to at least try to find out what happened to her! i'm sure you know someone who knows someone who knows a friend of hers, etc....

Of course, she's probably married, but so what? i'm sure if you got in touch with her again she'd be glad to hear from you.

c'mon, please! i'm sure all the people who have commented on this post are all rooting for you :D

January 29, 2007 7:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ok, GUS, I'll consider that; after all, Metro Manila isn't such a vast place at all. Without traffic and at regular speed, it only takes 15 minutes to drive from one point of EDSA to the other end. We'll see :)

January 30, 2007 7:06 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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