2. SOMEONE TO BEAM OVER ME
We couldn’t have been more than 13 -- my classmate and I -- when we espied the man and a woman inside a taxicab. Both were dressed up to the nines. The woman wore a shimmery gown, French-twisted hair, and vivid makeup. The man was dapper in a barong tagalog.
“Look at her” -- I cried aloud from our seat in the jeepney we were riding -- “she’s so beautiful! “ My friend gushed just as volubly: “Parang artista!”
The traffic was stalled by then, as it always was on that hour in that part of Juan Luna Street. This was circa 1950s when vehicles were not yet fitted with ACUs and car windows were often down. So the couple heard us – every effusive word we said.
I don’t exactly remember how the woman looked, whether she was fair or morena or slim or amply-built or if she blushed at our unabashed admiration. But I have not forgotten how the man tightened his possessive grip on the woman’s shoulder and beamed very happily and proudly at us.
I thought in my girl heart I didn’t have to be that beautiful. But I wanted some guy to beam like that for me, too, when I grew up.
MY PROFITLESS LIFE AS A SIDEWALK VENDOR
Summertime and the living was easy ... and lazy. Except my mom had other ideas. She wanted me to work to earn pin money. And what better way but to be a market peddler. And what better product to sell but the molido (camote-coconut bars) her Kumareng Luring prepared so nicely.
Why me? Why not my Ate? Oh, no, she’s too old – dalaga na -- to do that. Why not Zeny, our bunso? You guessed it, she was too young and couldn’t yet count money. Go, now, she shooed me away, handing me a heavy basket-tray and reminding me to rearrange my unprintable, rage-contorted face.
So there I was, all of nine years old, pouty and about to cry, standing by the talipapa entrance behind an apple crate on which perched the basketful of molido. Throngs of people passed. A few would eye what was in the basket but most went past it without as much as a glance.
I was instructed to shout out my merchandise. “Molido, molido kayo dyan. Masarap ... bagong luto.” But the halfhearted tindera couldn’t bring herself to open her mouth. Her anger soon gave way to boredom, and boredom to near panic when the morning passed and nothing happened.
Two or three women stopped by to ask “how much?” They must have found “dalawa singko” too expensive and turned away.
A kid younger than me was the one who hovered around the longest. Then she was joined by two more. They looked and looked but didn’t buy. “Penge?” the littlest one asked shyly. I had the urge to give it all to them -- molido, basket, and crate -- and be done with it. But I wasn’t gutsy and angry enough.
By lunch time, I had zero sales. It was time to go and face the truth.
It was my first and only foray into selling. It must have spoiled me forever for entrepreneurship.
(Years later, I taught entrepreneurship, researched and wrote articles and books about it as a “fake it-fake it - never made it” expert.)