Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memories from the big chair



Old houses remind me of my childhood at my grandmother’s house in Valladolid. It was an old Spanish house with a huge ballroom, big rooms with antique chairs, and wide windows overlooking the highway. I remember the echoes in that old house...the lingering traces of laughter, of my aunts playing mahjong on weekends, of my grandmother singing Besame Mucho, of fading footsteps, and the chatter of women-weavers on the ground floor.

"Hablon are hand-loomed textiles woven by women in Western Visayas who have the tradition of weaving for more than 150 years. Hablon fabrics come in muted colors and sometimes combined by silk threads."

The hablon-weavers were headed by an old woman, Tia Tonia, who fascinated me and my sister because of her bright red lips and black teeth. We watched Tia Tonia prepare her nganga (mama in Ilonggo), the ingredients of which were kept in a knotted hanky hidden under her chemise, delighted by the ritual. One afternoon, she taught me and my sister how to put together just the right amount of bonga (fruit of areca palm, a green-colored nut), buyo (leaf of betel piper vine) and a dash of lime to chew on and produce a blood-red juice that we gleefully spit out---checking who has the most vivid red spittle. Sharing betel chew with the women after the afternoon siesta was our bonding time---my sister and I felt like grown-ups!
...aside from assuaging hunger pangs, betel-chewing is believed to strengthen the teeth and gums. The Spanish chronicler Pigafetta, describing the customs of the islanders in the 16th century , wrote that “it is very cooling to the heart, and if they ceased to use it they would die.” The betel nut tradition once bound together Filipinos from the Cordilleras to Sulu. ~ from "Hidden in the Heart"

Everyday, there was a fiesta atmosphere in that house, with relatives and friends coming and going, guests at every meal. As a child of 8, there was always some corner in that house to be explored, to hideout and build my kingdoms of make-believe. The front staircase was my favorite place--- a grand 13-step staircase. Sitting on the steps, I would watch people come and go and listen to snippets of conversations; or listen in to afternoon soaps from a transistor radio the weavers were avidly tuned in to.

The old house was a landmark that people would tell the bus driver where to get off. “Sa balay daku lang,” the conductor would yell at the driver, and the bus stopped in front of my grandmother’s house. Balay daku means big house. I would climb in my grandmother’s big chair by the window, count the buses that stopped by, and sometimes wave at some stranger who smiled from the bus window.
I miss that old house, with its cracked paint of yellow and green, latticed windows, and creaking doors. It was torn down when I was 13.  When I see an old house, I always wonder about its history...the people who lived there and those who left their scent and footprints.




17 comments:

chubskulit said...

Sa balay daku pala hehehe, gandang land mark yan. Mama din yan sa Bikol sis and the buyo and bunga are the same, tinuruan din ako ng paternal grandmother ko na mag nganga hehehe, pampatibay daw ng ngipin lol.

Binagyo nga pala kayo dyan ano, kaya pala di ko makontak sina mama.

Thanks for joining this week sis.

Sunshine4Life said...

i remember long time ago that if we pass by big unoccupied old houses (spanish times) we ran so fast because merong mga ghost daw sa mga bahay na ganun. :)

oh my lola chews bettle too and we tried it and it's halang! hehehe

thanks for visiting my nostalgis, too sis!

Lina Gustina said...

Thanks for sharing your valuable story, Luna...

Thanks for dropping by :)

http://www.womenandperspectives.com

charmie said...

I also lived a house like that, surrounded by flowers and fruit trees. Pero wala na ngayon, kaya nakakamiss talaga ang ganun. Tama yon mga sinasabi mo yong laughter, yong takbohan ,hide and seek , masarap balikan yon.

Thanks for sharing this sis, nostalgic indeed!

Mama Ko said...

Very informative din itong post mo, good to know about the place thanks for sharing.

http://www.tsangreqz.com/2010/07/nostalgia-9-hanging-mobile-and-adjustment.html

☺lani☺ said...

Spanish house! Our house in Lucena City still there and looks almost the same as this one!

Cacai M. said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts in my My Nostalgia: 2008 Christmas Cards Received Luna. :) Madaming memories ang "balay na daku" which is great to dig-up. We can just smile and grin bringing back once we had though your grandparent's house wasn't there anymore. It's cool!

Kayce said...

wow how nostalgic talaga tong post mo sis... dako jud siya nga balay... hehehe! and very nice oldie house jud siya and so many memories din naiiwan sa house na yan.

by the way, Please check out my Me Singing post too. Thanks!

Vernz said...

wait is there a program in your local govt to salvage ancient spanish houses... ang sayang nito pagnasira .... relate na relate ako sa story mu ...

Boom Nisanart said...

I love this kind of old house. There all has a history. Nice photo !

tatess said...

thanks for sharing this nostalgia .one of the best I post I have ever read .

FilMasons NSW said...

Great story, but I do love the old house picture. Is that your grand mother's house [I know it was torn down when you were 13!]...

I do remember from your other blog that this is not the first time you mentioned the old house & what goes in there.

Luna Miranda said...

hi, Mario! the house in the photo is not my grandmother's house. this was taken in Laguna, i think. yes, i wrote about the old house in my Miranda blog. thanks for visiting.

Louis la Vache said...

What a poetic post!

Luna Miranda said...

thank you, Louis.:p

Rossel said...

we have the same old houses in Taal Batangas, where i grew up and we almost have the same childhood memories. my grandmother is not chewing nganga but she's smoking liwayway with the lit inside her mouth.

you can see my entry here...
http://momsupsndowns.blogspot.com/2010/07/crazy-over-rides.html

tara said...

my grandmother used to live in valladolid as well as a young girl. but i think it was a plantation house, not too sure...when she got married after the war, she moved to iloilo. some years back she asked me to paint it as she described it from memory...till now, i wonder what the actual house looks like :)