My childhood years were filled with random dreams and not-so-intentional glories.  But they come as happenstances with childhood drives and urge to excel in everything — from shatung to basketball, to high jump, to gardening to handicrafts making.  And to give fleshly meaning to parents’ and mentors’ exhortation in the cliché Burn your midnight candle! 

By DON J. PAGUSARA
Davao Today

As a birthday gift I rest my mind and heart to a meditative state.  I look back, not without nostalgic sally in my soul, to the multi-faceted days and weeks and months and years of my life.

My childhood years were filled with random dreams and not-so-intentional glories.  But they come as happenstances with childhood drives and urge to excel in everything — from shatung tbasketball, to high jump, to gardening to handicrafts making.  And to give fleshly meaning to parents’ and mentors’ exhortation in the cliché Burn your midnight candle!  

Oh yes, did I literally lighted midnight candles, wanting fervently to get perfect scores in daily quizzes and periodical tests.  All these in the grade schools.

And in high school, unlike some of the skirt-chasers among my friends, classmates and schoolmates, I failed to win a girlfriend, which in those days was called a sweetheart or just plain ‘steady.’  But every girl was a friend — someone you can tease, you can invite for a “pamotong” or a “jam session” especially on the night after a periodic exam.  Or on Easter eve or Christmas eve.

Oh, rehearsals for a stage play for a midyear presentation were most memorable, equaled only by Christmas carols.  Because with these activities are Saturdays and Sundays in a landlord’s big house and all the concomitant joys in outdoor frolics among girlfriends and naughty buddies.

And yet it was during one of these outdoor ‘journeys’ that I also tasted a despairing moment, when to prove my bravado that I could climb, I just couldn’t get to the fifth notch on the coconut tree.  My knees quivered and I jumped down to the ground to hurt my ankle, for days!  OMG, even now I still feel the sting of that embarrassing moment!

But most rewarding was some Mondays during flag raising rites when our English teacher would call a select few of us to read in front of the entire student body our well-written pieces in our theme writing class.

Nothing, however, could equal my elation when my “sugilanon” (short story in Cebuano) was passed around among my classmates who enjoyed reading it.  At least one of them would quote and memorize a passage from it, reciting it in one of our “drinking escapades.”

Then one May day, I just fled away from home as an act of rebellion against my authoritarian father.  It was a very short-lived moment of freedom — awkward freedom because the police who was hired by my father caught up with me in the boat that was to bring me to Cotabato.  My desired destination, then, was Davao City.  Hahaha!

Thirty years later, this Davao dream came true.  But after two separate rebellions in my life.  The first was when I fled to Manila as a rebel without a cause after quitting the school of medicine, ushering me into the world of hooliganism.

The second rebellion was when I joined the radical student movement in late 1960s towards the First Quarter Storm of the ‘70s.  And this time it was the ideals of the movement that lured and baptized me as a rebel with a cause, among thousands who waved their fists and bannered their commitment and dedication to build an alternative to an inhuman society.

The other not-to-be-told adventures as a rebel against the established social order, especially in fighting against the dictator Marcos, are as tortuous as the “twists and turns” of the revolutionary struggle now raging in the countryside.  And they are part and parcel of a historical era that put my character into test, strengthening the fibers of my resolve to pursue the quest for a more humane society for the future generations of our people.

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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