In May last year, I had a photowalk again with my son and nephew in my childhood playground, which was the "riles [railroad].
Back in the day, during weekends or summer vacation, we would walk or race along the railroad to the cantarilla;to watch the sun rise from mountains of Siera Madre. A cantarilla is a short-span bridge intended for shallow streams and canals.
We would stare directly at the rising sun and would delight at the circular flares we "see" once we take our eyes off from the sun. We would repeat and repeat it again until our eyes ached.Yes, we were oblivious of the dangers it would have had on our eyes! We were just lucky, I guess, that we did not turn blind by doing this.
The rails are gone. Many say they were stolen and sold in junk shops. Today, it is just a dirt road, and there were no longer traces of memories of childhood except for the cantarilla. Where there were ricefields are informal settlements. I could no longer distinguish the group of houses of the Villanueva's on the left and the Dugays on the right. After all these years, it has become a strange place. Be that as it may, one can still get a glimpse of rural life.
I was busy photographing some landscape and wild flowers when a boy came to me and asked, "Kuya, magkano yan?" [Big brother, how much is that?]
"Ang alin?" [Which one?], I asked.
"Yang camera mo. Mahal ba yan?" [Your camera. Is that expensive?]
"Medyo." [Yes, a little.], I replied. "Bakit mo tinatanong?" [Why do you ask?]
"Gusto ko rin kasing magkaroon ng ganyan eh. Saan ba binibili yan? Sa Manila?" [I'd like to have one like that. Where can I buy that? In Manila?"], he continued.
I secretly smiled. I must have sparked some interest in this boy. So I challenged him. "May pera ka ba?" [Do you have the money?]
"Mag-iipon ako!" he snapped. "Magkano ba yan, ha kuya?"
I was dumbfounded! Not wanting a "defeat" in this tête-à-tête, I told him, "Mga 35 thousand, makakabili ka na ng ganito." [With about 35 thousand, you can buy one like this.]
"Ahhhh. Ang mahal pala," [Ahhhh. It is expensive.] was his only disappointed reply.
Not wanting to kill the curiosity and interest in the boy, I took some photos of him and his friend, the roaming goats, and some wild flowers, and showed him my shots. He giggled at their photos. Before they left, I asked them to look at me, and clicked away.
Finally, I told him, if he wanted to have a camera like mine, he should study well so he can have a job.
"Opo, kuya," [Yes, big brother] then he ran away with his friend.
He is the boy on the right. I regret that I forgot to ask his name. Maybe I should go back and give them a copy of their photo.