Wednesday, April 25, 2007


With Manila's temperature recently hovering in the mid-30s Celcius or mid-90s Fahrenheit, these kids surely know how to cool themselves, though doing it in the waters of Manila Bay may not be all that good an idea.

The bay still needs major rehabilitation to make it a truly safe swimming spot as it once was.

When I was these kids' age, I was fortunate enough to have a charming river right next to my aunt's house in Subic. Every afternoon at around three in the afternoon, practically most of the kids in the barrio could be found there. Its flowing water was clean that if in case during horseplay you accidentally swallowed some, there was no need to worry, for it was disease-free at that time.

However, since we shared the more popular swimming spot with some carabaos and a group of women doing their laundry, it was always a good idea to remain upstream. But, the barrio carabaos were so docile they didn't mind us using them as diving boards so, we'd end up swimming near them anyway. The only thing we abhorred were the leeches, though they weren't really plentiful.

There were days it would be so humid that my cousin and I would go with my aunt's maid when she did the laundry at around ten in the morning. While she did the wash and enjoyed gossiping with the other women, my cousin and I would be busy swimming and catching some fish with our homemade spear slingshots.

We also played tricks on my aunt's maid at times like slipping some rocks at the bottom of the pail covered by the freshly-laundered clothes on top. We'd roll over laughing as we watched her struggle to lift it.

But the best time and most fun at the river was during the afternoon when it was filled with many kids. Besides swimming, there were various games going on that we'd lose track of time. There was always a long line to get a chance to swing from a rope tied to a tree branch and drop while screaming with joy into the cool water below. Some would swing and jump two or three at a time. It was so much fun!

Eventually, by the late afternoon, some irate mothers would come marching to the riverbank looking for their kids. And in their attempt to avoid getting scolded in front of their playmates, some kids would frantically grab their clothes and run home butt naked.

And almost always, by the time we were all leaving, there were the older kids who would show up after having gathered some guava leaves. They've come to the river to wash their wounds fresh from having been circumcised that summer. And supposedly, right after dinner time, I heard the riverbank took on a quieter and more romantic ambiance; becoming an idyllic haunt for older teens and young adults to meet with their lovers.

When I returned to that river after many years of having lived in New York, I was saddened to find that it was no longer a thriving wonderful river it once was. Mt. Pinatubo was to blame.


posted by Señor Enrique at 8:15 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahahaha! That's all I could say on this post, Eric!

April 25, 2007 9:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric! Hahahaha! Tawa ako nang tawa sa entry mo!

Alam mo kasi, may naalala ako. At the back of our family house in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, is a river. We would also swim there as kids. Ang linaw ng tubig, at kitang kita pa yung mga isdang nagswi swimming.

My cousin who always spent summer vacation with us, one time while we were swimming, (we were about 12 y.o.), told me, that we should always stay upstream, kasi daw, kung may lalaki doon sa upstream, tapos, nasa downstream kami, we might get pregnant daw, because of the guy's 'you know'! And I believed her! And it gave me nightmares then! Really! Mula noon, hindi na ako naligo sa ilog kahit kelan! Hahahaha!

April 25, 2007 9:37 AM  

Blogger Professor Howdy said...

Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

April 25, 2007 9:39 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

hello! natawa naman ako dun sa mga kalabaw buti nalang wala sila paki hehe. =)

April 25, 2007 9:41 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Why did I have a feeling this entry would prompt some fond memories, Rhoda? Hehehe!

The adults, who were also kids at one time, were kind enough to label childhood as the "wonder years." So many unknown things would confront us, and it would take many years later to realize how hilarious some of these folkloric beliefs are!

But nonetheless, they now serve to put a smile on our faces, if not an outright hearty laugh.

Ah, the joys of childhood!

April 25, 2007 9:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Professor Howdy!

Hope you had a good laugh with us :)

April 25, 2007 9:59 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ewan ko ba, Carla ... everything seemed so simple and less hostile back in those days. Even the carabaos would let us do what we wanted and paid us no mind.

Ewan ko lang ngayon. Baka mga bad trip na din sila tulad ng karamihan nilang mga amo ... hahaha!

April 25, 2007 10:01 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Isn't it nice when your "past" is so sweet!

I can almost imagine the young Eric "frantically grabbing his clothes and run home butt naked." ;-)

April 25, 2007 11:23 AM  

Blogger U.T.O.Y said...

Reminds me of the time when I did have a fight with a bully for trespassing in our farm in Sta Rosa Laguna. I watched him run butt naked not because I hit him hard but because of my Lolo's bolo waving in the air. Hehe

April 25, 2007 2:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

reminiscin' the old days

my playground used to be Laguna lake, the endless ricefields and sierra madre mountain

i learned to swim in the lake when one of my friends pushed me on top of a fish cage :)

April 25, 2007 2:41 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

i loved the picture this story painted in my head. life when we were kids were so carefree, no? nothing to worry about except for where the next fun can be had. and in this case, where the best spot of the creek to swim in =D

i remember seeing a sign in manila bay (near the american embassy, i think) saying that it was not safe to swim there. still a lot of families were arriving with kids in tow, to swim there (right beside the warning sign, hehe). i had a hard time trying to hold lucho back. he wanted in on the fun too! LOL!

p.s. i remember the mean look the carabao in ilocos gave me. never am i going to go near one, much less jump from one. haha

April 25, 2007 3:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post evoked really good memories, Senor Eric :) I don't know if you know a tv show called "Tabing Ilog". I really love the place where they shot the opening credits. That was the picture in my head while reading this post and laughing like crazy.

Happy Wednesday po :)

April 25, 2007 5:45 PM  

Blogger Ai Dihayco said...

hahah! saya naman ng blog na ito. Never had the chance to swim with the kalabaw's around. But, like those kids.. i usually escape from home and punta sa beach near our place..heheh! saya nun..may dala pa kaming baon na tinapay. Brings back old memories.

April 25, 2007 7:51 PM  

Blogger Anna said...

i'll start to re-invent my old self after my graduation. i have to know what i really want. medyo magulo pa kasi. dont wori i'd love to join another photo contest. i've been living differently from who i was, but i won't let engineering hinder my love for arts. thank you very much. am hoping to talk to you personally! o_O

April 25, 2007 8:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sarap talaga mag reminisce... :D
naalala ko tuloy yung mga summer nung childhood days ko, maglalaro kasama mga kapitbahay, then hapon na uuwi, hahanapin ng nanay at papagalitan, hehehe...

April 25, 2007 8:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Don't let your imagination run wild, Sidney! I would never swim butt naked in that river mainly because of the leeches. I'd flip out if one of those disgusting worms latched onto my "you know what!" Hahaha!

I used to go with a bunch of cousins and we've pretty much done our chores by the time we'd go swimming so, no scolding from my aunt :) We just had to be home before five.

April 25, 2007 8:18 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Your response, Utoy, just made me realize how grandparents are extremely protective of their grandkids.

And waving a bolo at that bully surely scared the daylight out of him!

April 25, 2007 8:20 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You've just painted an idyllic place for a kid to grow up in, Tito. You are blessed!

Thank God you learned to swim fast and not drown at all. That was nasty of those kids to push you.

April 25, 2007 8:22 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Some friends were just recently talking about the time when that swimming spot near the American Embassy was quite popular, Sheilamarie. I didn't know that some still brave what is now dirty water in that part of the bay.

And of course, who could blame Lucho for wanting to jump right in the water to swim and cool himself.

Yes, I saw a picture of that carabao in your site. Back when I was a kid, as I told Carla, everything seemed less hostile, really.

April 25, 2007 8:26 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ah, the beach. We'd usually get a chance once or twice a week to spend at the beach, A! But it was the river every day :)

For those simple things, I sometimes still say a word of thanks for having had them when I was a kid. They tend to stay with you, don't they?

April 25, 2007 8:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Actually, Sirene, do well as an engineer so you'd make mucho bucks and afford the finest photography gear!

When you're ready, you're welcome to join our camera club. A few members are the same age as you, too, so you're assured of fun times :)

Good luck!

April 25, 2007 8:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Summer is here!

I wish I could be there in Pinas now. Damn, how I wish my time spent over there last December!


April 25, 2007 8:58 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Know what, Lino? Your comment reminds me of what my best friend in NYC did when he was a kid in Peoria, Illinois where he spent his summers.

But what made his anecdote humorous was when he related how the dogs in the neighborhood would do the same thing -- get together in the morning and gallivant the whole day. This pack of dogs would then come home late in the afternoon like them.

Amazing, huh?

April 25, 2007 9:06 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It might be a good idea to someday time your Manila visit during the summertime here, Kyels. This way, you can visit as many beaches as you want and have a great time :)

April 25, 2007 9:08 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

After watching a marathon of Grey's Anatomy and House, I can just imagine the amount of germs that are present in the water. I just hope that the government continues the cleaning of these rivers. Ansarap balikan yung mga araw na malinis pa karamihan ng mga rivers and lakes dito sa Manila.

April 26, 2007 2:02 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ladybug!

Haven't been watching much TV, except ANC and CNN as backdrop whenever I'm blogging or working on my computer; hence, unable to follow Grey's Anatomy. House, on the other hand, I was able to get the first season's box set, and as you did, had a marathon with it.

Hugh Laurie is truly a fine actor. He was hilarious with Stephen Fry in PBS' series "Jeeves" so, it was a complete surprise to see him in a sombre role as Dr. House. I love the way he comes up with his prognosis, though. Great TV!

How I wish we can revert all these damages we have incurred on our planet, especially with our water resources. I rarely take a dip into the waters of Subic Bay since the Americans abandoned the naval base and left all those toxic waste chemicals to pollute the bay.

April 26, 2007 4:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i, too, had my river moments, in fact years of river moments. our house was by the dike in Tarlac. how i cherish those times when we would play by the river, swim in it, catch small fishes, with no worries, all fun, pure play! during rainy days, i would watch the river by the window, almost bursting to the bunks.

now, after many many years, the river is gone, at least by the part where i used to live, it's all just sand now. so sad, and we all know why.

if we, as a people, do not care about what we have now, i wonder how it will be years from now (and i shudder!)

April 26, 2007 5:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The young kids planning for a swimming trip to Laguna inspired me to write this entry, Dine. I feel bad that they will never get to experience the once thriving river in a barrio in Subic in which their grandparents once enjoyed. And I'm sure you feel the same with the dike in Tarlac :(

Sayang talaga ang mga nawawala na nating natural resources.

April 26, 2007 8:33 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a good idea for these kids to swim the polluted waters of Manila Bay, let alone feeling sticky with salt water ! I'm surprised why the govt doesn't regulate siwmming in areas that are potential unsafe and hazardous.

April 26, 2007 12:50 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't think it's such an easy feat to regulate the swimming areas of the bay, BW.

However, Mayor Atienza has been actively supporting the city's efforts to rehabilitate the bay. It will take some time, but there are apparent improvements.

From what I understand, there's also an active ongoing program to rehabilitate Pasig River, too.

April 26, 2007 7:48 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Buti ka pa Señor E, naabutan pa ang malinis na ilog. This is one of my frustrations in life. Our house in Bicol is just a few meters from the river. It's a strategic location enabling us to choose prime spots for watching fluvial processions and parades. Unfortunately, the river is already polluted and sometimes the stench even reaches our homes. Obviously no swimming for me, all my friends and I could do was idle by its side, watch hibiscus, watch boats, race paper boats, throw pebbles (I can make them skip). I remember two incidents of pebble-throwing wars against the kids on the other side.

At least there were enough trees, plants, animals and insects in the neighborhood to keep me entertained. These in turn are what the kids today are missing, what with the succession of typhoons uprooting them one by one and the lack of desire to re-plant.

April 27, 2007 12:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is sad, Dave. Not only had the people lost the full use of the river in your hometown in Bicol, but it has been overwhelmed by foul odor as well.

I guess the local folks' lack of desire to re-plant may be attributed by their exasperation due to continual devastating typhoons. Be that as it may, much grassroots interest and government efforts are needed to rehabilitate and revitalize.

But what's truly disheartening is that we are, in fact, already experiencing the pitfalls of widespread environmental pollution.

April 27, 2007 5:11 AM  

Blogger Belle TH said...

hi Senor, maloko ka rin pala noong bata ka pa. i also have fond memories of swimming in the river when i was a kid. completely naken, we would perch on a tree branch and would race on who could pee the farthest

April 27, 2007 6:52 AM  

Blogger Unknown said...

Good Morning Senor Enrique :)

kakatuwa naman, naalala ko rin ang pag ligo ligo namin sa ilog sa Laguna. Meron din naman ako naabutan na malinis na ilog. Is that a sign how old I am? hahahhaha.

Anyway, about Manila Bay, did you know po that the turtle species Olive Ridley was first discovered and identified in Manila Bay? Also there is a story that says Manila is name after a mangrove that abound the bay area in old times (hindi ko na po ito naabutan ha)

But there, it is sad that what was once a healthy Bay is now unsafe for children to swim. Happy to see the photos of the kids having a grand time with nary a thought of the itchy water :)

April 27, 2007 6:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

We should ask our fellow bloggers if they knew of a still healthy river, lake or lagoon (not the beach). It would be really depressing if those safe and disease-free swimming holes were a mere thing of the past.

Nilad may be the mangrove you speak of, which thrived along the Pasig River, Daisy. The Tagalogs would often refer to this river or area as "sa may nilad;" hence, Manila.

April 27, 2007 7:06 AM  

Blogger Daisy said...

Dear Senor Enrique,

The nearest river system that I believe is still healthy near the metro is the Matulid River system.

I've done a week long river trek with fellow mountaineers a few years back. The jump off is near Montalban. Matulid can be reached after 1 1/2 hike. There are strong currents, beautiful gorges, and rapids. The end of the trail is a Dumagat village. Then the boat ride to Angat Dam in Bulacan.

Another River close by is what mountaineers call "Famy" it is near Siniloan can be reached after 2-3 hours walk over hills. It has several waterfalls and famous for the weekend warriors.

I guess the most family friendly is the "Imelda Falls" which can be reached through Sta Cruz Laguna. It is about 10-15 minutes walk from the road. Haven't been there in a long while but I think it is still safe for swimming :)

There are still some rivers where we can swim :) Thank God :)

Enjoy the summer!

April 29, 2007 6:31 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many many thanks, Daisy, for sharing this information with us! It is, indeed, wonderful to know of some of our water resources as still alive and thriving! I'm sure this will bring a smile to our fellow bloggers as well who might read this post.

If ever you return to any of those places you mentioned, please share some pictures with us:

April 29, 2007 8:27 AM  

Blogger Daisy said...

Hi Senor Enrique,

I will try to scan old photos from Matulid and post it. But it may take a while as my albums are in Laguna.

If anyone is interested --they can just google the places mentioned and there are available ITs on the web.

I forgot to mention that the river trek to Matulid you would need 5 days. But it is indeed worth it.


April 30, 2007 8:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I've a feeling, Daisy, that many of our fellow bloggers might just gon a trek to Matulid.

Please let us know when you've posted the pics. Thanks!

April 30, 2007 8:27 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hay senor enrique, weren't you a cheeky little bugger! kawawa naman yung labandera ng tita mo!
It's so nice to hear your stories, sayang nga lang wala na yung river. I do hope Manila Bay and Pasig River get cleaned up soon, it would be a wonderful thing for residents and visitors alike!

May 01, 2007 7:32 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Maraming salamat Gracing ... hehehe!

Oo nga! sana naman ma-rehabilitate uli ang mga ilog at tabing dagat natin.

May 01, 2007 8:56 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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