The Child Recalls: A Cultural Heritage Nostalgia

The following are anecdotes by the writers of The Muralla on their fond childhood memories of historical or cultural sites. They reminisce unforgettable experiences as well as wonder, whether the kids of the future will find these important heritages in the same state as they did, if not improved or completely removed.

The Dirty Mouth and Nazareno by John Roy Abenaza

My parents are believers of Senyor Nazareno of Quiapo. Every time they go there, they never miss the chance of touching the black image of Christ. Once, they brought me along with them, and the line was very long. As a nosy little kid I asked a question which, when I think about it now, is humiliating, “Ma bakit ang dumi niya?”

Mom immediately shut my mouth with the handkerchief she wiped at the feet of the Nazarene. Every people behind us were about to laugh or  were whispering with each other.

Like a Katipunero by Czar Nicholas Elcano

Counting the steps I took at Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan was fun for me. I was a 9-year old running around the rendezvous place of the Katipuneros from all those decades ago. For a while, I thought the blood of passion  run through my veins. For a while, I felt like one of the legendary warriors of Katipunan. I then developed a mild sense of nationalism. The steps of Biak-na-Bato were undeniably the first few building blocks that honed myself to be the patriot I am at present.

Strangers of Luneta by Edelyn Cantillo

They say that one can only be a true Manileño if he/she has spent part of his/her childhood in Luneta, a belief to which I strongly I agree.

My mom used to bring me to the park and let me wander around the playground by myself. I recall playing with kids whose names I don’t even know. All I remember is that there was always this kid who would ask me to play with him. I used to ask myself if there was a chance that we would meet again when we’re already grown-ups.

That place was my wonderland growing up, and it will be the same for my future kids.

My Family Trip to the White-Sand Beach by Jemaima Rae Porter

When I was about five or six years old, my family and I stayed in Antique. Just one boat ride away was the lovely island of Boracay. So for fun, we decided to go island hopping. We didn’t bring any clothes or baggage with us because we knew that we were not going to stay there for long, not even for the whole day.

We boarded the boat and the trip was so amazing, although the waves of the ocean were so strong they made me feel a little bit dizzy. Even then, everything was fine – the ocean, the wind, the view of the island from afar– all was simply amazing.

The trip went on  until we arrived at the island of white sand. Appreciating the beauty of the clear sea, my two sisters and I could not resist the temptation of going into the waters to swim. We pretended that we were just playing in the sand while our mom was watching us, until the waves came crashing to the shore again and again, closer and closer to us, and we reciprocated by moving closer and closer to the sea, until we were wet from waist down.

My mom couldn’t resist the charm of her three daughters, so she let us swim for the next hour or two. After that swim, we boarded the boat home with clothes still  damp. The wind was blowing hard as we approached the bay of Antique. We got off the boat, and only then did we realize that our clothes were already dry.

Little Hero Steps by Harmony Valdoz

During an elementary field trip, I still remember seeing the gold-painted footsteps of Jose Rizal in Fort Santiago leading up to the place where he was executed in Luneta.

As kids, we tried to follow where the steps led, but it escapes me now whether we reached the end or our parents chastised us to go back to where the tour guide drones on about historical facts he has delivered a number of times to students who probably won’t remember anyway.

What stood out most to me about the footsteps, and the preserved possessions of Rizal in the museums, was that he seemed like such a tiny man. Both the size of the golden footsteps, though I do not know how accurate, and his clothes on display, were so small. They did not look like that of a midget’s, but for someone whose name had been so glorified, extolled in our history books as a genius and a martyr, I could not quite fit the idea of him to the reality of how he really was in the physical world.

Having a hero humanized in front of my eyes was an awe-inspiring moment, and it made me think, he actually existed.

The Itch of the Naughty Child by John Roy Abenaza

This happened on a Sunday when I was around six or seven years old. I was not aware back then that people are not supposed to swim in the waters of Manila Bay, as it is not as clean as the rivers and beaches I used to go every summer vacation. Being a kid, I threw tantrums until my parents allowed me to enjoy what I thought were clean waters, since there were also other people swimming around, along with my cousins.

The only vivid memory after that was our long drive along Roxas Boulevard, with my parents enjoying the beautiful sight of the sunset while every inch of my body itched so badly. I remember missing class the next day.

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