17 Questions

Disclaimer: I’m not sure if this is an original, I got this from our Facebook group. Questions were taken from Doc Arvin’s post.

Imagine that today is year 2005:

1: What time do you have to wake up? – 6AM.

2. What is your cellphone? Tell me more about this phone. Why is it the best for you?- I had a Nokia 3650. I think it’s the only Nokia phone with a round bottom. It was the best phone for me because it was a gift.

3.What was your internet speed and how much? -None. I used my cellphone as a hotspot.

4. How many inches was your TV? It was a room TV, around 24 inches.

5. Do you have a laptop? Desktop? How many GB was the storage?- Somebody donated a desktop to me sometime in 2004. I can’t remember the storage capacity.

6.Where do you go for a gimmick?- I hated going to the bar but I went there occasionally with friends. I’ve been to maybe half of the bars in Olongapo.

7.What was the most instagrammable location then? – Beaches in Gapo and the nature in Subic.

8.Which mall was the best? Which mall had the best cinema?- In 2005, believe it or not, the malls that I went to were the small malls in Gapo and Bataan.

9. How do you listen to music?- Through my FM/AM radio.

10. What car do you drive? If commute, how much was the fare.- I have no car yet in 2005. I could not remember the fare because I walked a lot.

11. You are considered “sosyal” when you wear this- To be honest, I don’t know. I’m never brand conscious. What looks good on me will do.

12. You are “sosyal” if you eat what?- What? Caviar? I don’t know. Haha.

13. How much was the US$ exchange rate to Peso- $50?, I don’t remember.

14. Were you working or studying in 2005?- Working!

15. Describe your past get-up- Nothing fancy. Just shirt and jeans.

16. Do you order via food delivery in 2005?- No. Making phone calls were expensive for me during those times.

17. What were your dreams in 2005 that you were able to achieve in 2021?- Prefer not to answer. LOL.


Buenos Recuerdos: Old Balanga

Fifteen years ago, I was using a brochure-type map whenever I went to some unknown locations. Today, travelers rely on Waze to give them traffic updates and route suggestions. There is also Google Earth for those who prefer to see how the location is. Take note that Google Earth is updated every five years; the landmarks could be outdated.

Google Earth lets me revisit the past places where I lived or visited. I’m pretty sure that I am not the only person who does this. As I grow older, I have a strong feeling to reconnect to my roots. Whenever I think of my hometown, my recollections were about its past images and landmarks.

Jose Rizal Street

The Balanga that I remember had a creek on that spot. Mang Tinoy’s Lechon stood on a wooden platform above the creek. The lechon stall was later transferred in front of Denbel’s. Lysa’s Snack House was popular for the beer-drinking male customers for their boys’ night out. Live bands performed on its rival pub house “Pista sa Barrio.” To keep up with the competition, Lysa’s had the jukebox for their customers’ music. Farmacia Angelita, one of the oldest pharmacies in Balanga, used to occupy a one-storey building before. I can’t remember what was there before on the Mini-Stop spot. Bank of the Philippine Islands used to be a local restaurant that served the best-tasting banana split and chicken mami. If my memory serves me right, it was called “Magnolia Ice Cream House.” I am not sure if there used to be a bowling alley along this side of the road. What I am sure of is on the opposite side of the road, there used to be a bowling alley on the spot where Vercon’s is erected now. My friend’s parents had a small eatery beside the bowling alley.

We used to see the church’s tower from our house before.
I think that Galleria Victoria is better without the bridge-like connection to the The Plaza hotel.

Galleria Victoria was completed in 2011 but before that, there was no building to block the horizon of the Talisay, San Jose, and Poblacion areas. We used to live nearby and if we wanted to check on the downtown traffic, it was easier because of the open space at the intersection. The Balanga Arcade used to occupy the Gallery Victoria spot. If you are facing the arcade, you could see Michell’s Bakeshop on the left side, Johnpel’s Drughouse in the middle, and a dental clinic on the right side. Michell’s Bakeshop is a Balanga brand and it dominated the Bataan market before Red Ribbon and Goldilocks put up their stores in there.

Forget about the stalls in the picture. I got it from Google Earth. That area is much better now.

The building with a clock on it is the Plaza Hotel Balanga. As far as I know, it was originally a one-storey building that Bataan Community College used to occupy. The school was transferred to Diversion Drive in the mid-80s beside Michrom’s. In 1991, Balanga welcomed its first Jollibee branch on the Bataan Community College spot. Before we had our first Jollibee, Cindy’s (The Place To Be) used to be the only big fast-food restaurant available. I loved eating at the first Jollibee branch because you could see the panoramic view of the landscapes from there.
In the plaza, Jose Rizal’s monument used to face the municipal hall (it’s now a city hall). Today, his monument is facing the Galleria Victoria. His monument has sentimental value to me because one of the workers who helped build the plaza was my great-grandfather. His name was written at the back of its platform. (I hope it’s still there). The intersection arrow on the picture was a busy road in Poblacion before. The northern part of the arrow will lead you to Ibayo, the southern part to Poblacion, the western part to San Jose and Capitol Drive, and the eastern part to Talisay.

That river used to have a lot of water lilies.

This is an ongoing construction of Capitol Square Building when Google Earth captured it. It used to be a Pantranco (?) Bus Terminal in the 80s. I can’t remember exactly if it was Pantranco or Philippine Rabbit because bus stations in Balanga used to move out a lot.


It’s the J2 Food House! The original one was made of native materials like sawali. J2 is famous for its delicious lutong-bahay. My high school classmates used to eat there during our lunch break. Ironically, I have never been to J2 and I’m looking forward to eating there someday.

Kumusta na kaya si Sir Triguero?
Side gate going to the grade school and 1st year HS classrooms (not sure if the HS classrooms are still there)

Tdel (Tomas del Rosario College) used to be the only private high school in Balanga. The main gate used to have little privacy when I was still a student. The walls were 30% lower and were secured by a cyclone fence to discourage trespassers. The tall building on the left was just one-storey before. There was a quadrangle in the middle of the school where we held minor school programs. The quadrangle appeared to be a garden now, I have no idea where they hold their programs now. During my time, we seldom used the main gate. We passed by the side gates where the guard could easily filter students who were not wearing their proper uniform. Male students were allowed to wear denim pants and a white shirt only on Fridays for our CAT (Citizen Army Training) activity. The school has better facilities now like better classrooms with air-conditioning. I don’t know if the golden shower trees are still around as they add character to the school.

VHS days. That was a long time ago.

We were allowed to leave the school premises during lunch break. There was a time when Rhonna and I went to the VHS rental during our recess. The place was a five-minute walk to our classroom, we told the guard that we needed to run an errand. Of course, VHS is a thing of the past now. JT Express occupies this area in the present.

Old Balanga’s simple joys.

Speaking of a public swimming pool, forget about the slides, artificial waves, variety of food and souvenir shops to choose from, and water activity sports. We did not enjoy these bonuses when we were growing up. The nearest (paid) public swimming pool available was in Dona Francisca, the Joyous Resort. What Joyous Resort could only offer was a kiddie pool and a half-Olympic size pool only. The cottage area was close to the fishponds and you would have to climb a few steps to get into the swimming pool area. I found the shower rooms isolated and prone to security issues. Joyous had private cottages, too for those who wanted an overnight stay at the resort. The structure on the photo served as a restaurant in the morning and a disco house in the evening. The last times I’ve been there was when I attended Rowena and Roland’s wedding and when I celebrated my birthday with Meliza and Shellah.

Reminiscing the old days does not necessarily mean that I resent what we have now. I am proud of what our town has become from being a sleepy town to a busy commercial place. We’re moving along with the changing times. But yes, structures do not last a lifetime. Twenty years from now, our children or grandchildren will witness a different image of Balanga. And when that happens, they would probably tell stories of how it was like in Balanga before.

Year 2020

Year 2020 Poem
What a challenging year!

I wrote this poem when I was feeling blue. People who personally know me could attest to the many trials that I went through this year. Of course, it is never my nature to announce what’s inside my mind if it involves other people. I avoid telling my issues while I’m on top of my emotions, too.
Without going to the delicate details, I want to share pieces of my unfortunate 2020 and how I managed to trust in the process, forgive, and move on.

Before the pandemic, I lived my life as I programmed it to be. I was a busy mother and a career woman. My father depended on me since my mother passed away a decade ago. I had a huge responsibility both at home and at work. I enjoyed life, no matter how challenging it was occasionally. Friends were there whenever boredom struck. You know, I thought that it was the kind of friendship that would stand the test of times.

Honestly, I was my usual calm self when the Luzon lockdown started. I believed that the lockdown was for the best interest of the majority. Besides, I thought that it would only be temporary. I pretended to be wary of the impending economic crisis in March whenever my close friend in Malaysia opened up about her worries. I believed that the situation was under control and yes, it would just be a little sacrifice before we all get back to normal.

During the third week of the Luzon lockdown, my father succumbed to a heart attack. To make matters worse, the Covid protocol in both our provinces became more strict so I had no choice but to attend his burial through the video call. Until now, I get teary-eyed whenever I remember that day. My father’s death was sudden and without good-byes. Partially, I regret not being able to have spent more time with him because I was busy making money to support him. On the brighter side, I knew that he understood my physical absences, and had Covid did not happen, I planned to spend more time with him in the province starting 2020. I started when I went to visit him in February for his birthday.

To lessen my grief, I attended online training courses on Social Media Management, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing and even Blogging from May to June. I needed to keep myself busy and productive. I registered to jobhunting sites that provide home-based employment for me to know what employers look for in a candidate. It was also around this time when uncertainties about my employment status arose.

I have always been a career-woman and a family woman rolled into one. There were instances when family occasions had to take a back seat because of the demands of my job and my family understood it. My job was the source of my motivation that I could achieve anything in life as long as I had it. Personally and professionally, I got along with anybody at work, they were my second family. Naturally, when I felt that I was about to lose my second family, my initial reactions were grief and sadness. In between my professional issues and mourning for my father’s death, there were other painful incidents that I’d rather not talk about.

What helped me during the uncertain times were the support group that I had like my online mommy group and of course, my family and real friends. They say that misery loves company. It was during my lowest points in life when I gained new friends that have similar situations as mine. I reached out to people, gave pieces of advice when asked, and then surrendered all my worries to the Lord.
I always tell my new friends to “trust in the process” no matter how bad it seems to be. Of course, we need to forgive the people or circumstances that led us to this situation. When we forgive, we provide closure to the incident and so we don’t feel as haunted as before. When we trust in the process and believe that good things will come out of it later, we learn to move on and look forward to what life has to offer.

Despite the pains that 2020 caused me, I still believe that there are good reasons why I shed a lot of tears this year. Let us also be kinder to one another because we don’t know what we are going through these days. May we all have a better 2021!

PS: If you liked my poem, please share this post. Let us spread positivity! 🙂

Tragedy in Paniqui, Tarlac

The recent double murder case of a Paranaque police officer in Paniqui, Tarlac caught the headlines yesterday morning. In the viral video, we could see a commotion involving the victims Anton/Frank Gregorio and his mother, Sonya Gregorio versus Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca and his daughter. Minutes later and in a fit of rage, Nuezca pulled the trigger and shot the mother and son in close range. His daughter witnessed the whole incident, unmoved. After the shooting, the father and
daughter reportedly left the crime scene as if nothing happened. To date, he is now in jail and I hope that justice will be served fast for the victims.

We condemn the senseless killing. We condemn the brutality of the murder. We condemn what Jonel Nuezca did to his neighbors. But do we need to gang up on a minor to pay for her father’s sins? Based on Noli de Castro’s interview with one of the witnesses and the one who took the video, there had been a long-standing feud about the right of way between the Gregorios and Jonel Nuezca. Therefore, the “boga” incident was not the first time the two parties had a heated discussion. Most likely, the hostility had always been there and just waiting for a tragedy like this to happen. Jonel’s daughter had nothing to do with the right of way feud.
In the video, we could conclude that she’s the bratty daughter who provoked her father into killing Sonya and Anton. But let’s not forget that it was her father who had first-hand issues with the Gregorios, not her.
In the confines of their home, the girl probably heard that her father was right and therefore kept a resentment against their neighbors for “violating” their right of way. In short, there were probably issues and discussions that the child heard before and she felt that her father or their family was the underdog.

Police are trained and are supposed to practice maximum tolerance. If Jonel Nuezca could easily be triggered by Sonya’s reply to his daughter, you could just imagine what he could have done in other instances aside from this one. My point is, why do we need to include the daughter on the blame when a responsible adult and a police officer should be the one to have kept his cool, in the first place?
We don’t know the parenting style of the Nuezcas and how the family felt entitled to the privilege of having a
man in uniform under their roof. What the child needs right now is a psychological assessment because we don’t want another Nuezca to hit the headlines for human rights violation later on.