Here's a Google Map of Guadalupe, Makati, my hometown
I grew up in a town called Guadalupe, in the city of Makati, one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines. Makati is located in metro Manila, and is, from my last reading, has the most expensive real estate in the Philippines. Makati is also the seat of major corporate headquarters, and its Ayala Avenue and vicinity is Metro Manila's financial district.
Guadalupe, or "Barrio Guadalupe" is located just a few minutes away from the financial district of Makati. Buses, light rail, taxis, or private transportation will take you there through the major highway named EDSA (short for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue).
The north end of Guadalupe is Pasig River, the east end is where the Former Ft. William McKinley used to be. The military base has been renamed Fort Andres Bonifacio (in honor of one of the Philippine's heroes). This military fort has now been rebuilt into one of the country's sought-after area for residence, shopping and entertainment. When I was a little girl, we used to go to this fort to wash clothes (the water pressure in the town of Guadalupe was available to those who have electric generators. Ordinary household cold not afford an electric generator at that time. My sisters and the women in the neighborhood (usually the girls) - used to spend all day at the fort to do their weekly clothes washing.
The fort after the war had vast land where military families grow sizable vegetable lots. I remember the good times we had when, while waiting for our clothes to dry, we would go around the fort areas to look for fruits that fell on the ground, and/or pick some vegetables from the huge vegetable gardens. Oh - those were the days.
When I was growing up, anytime we needed something to eat, we didn't have to go to special stores. All we had to do was get out of the house, go next door, and purchase whatever you want, which when you were a child with a few centavos - were plenty. Almost every home had a store (we call "sari-sari store").
My father has always been a business person since he was a teenager. He moved to Guadalupe at age 17 to live with his cousin, my aunt Paulina, who owned the dance hall outside the base. I was told that all the soldiers (and men in the community) would go there, buy a ticket, and dance with the ladies. The ladies then get a commission from the tickets purchased. He opened his own tailoring store right outside the gate of the base at age 18. Since then, he became one of Guadalupe's sought-after tailor. He was not just a tailor, but also a master cutter. I remember he would always be called to go to Manila haberdasheries in Binondo and/or Divisoria areas to cut a pattern, or to make a suit. I saw him make a suit from patterns to final pieces. My dad was so good at it! I was his fan!
My grandma had a store where she sold tuba (the wine from coconut sap). My mom was a very good seamstress and we had the best dresses compared to our neighborhood kids when it comes to being best dressed. Those were the good memories.
We had a huge house with a dug out area for swimming pool. (I was told it used to be an officer's home and the swimming pool was not finished when the war ended). My father used to dive in that pond to get some cat fish. He was a very good diver. Not a surprise; he grew up in the southern Philippines where water surrounds his province.
We left Guadalupe and moved to the center of the city, behind the City Hall in a place called Rizal Village. I was there when I decided to come to the United States. I had a lot of hopes and dreams for myself, but, believe it or not, mostly for my parents and my family.
So, here I am, in the United States of America, reminiscing the days I had when I lived in my hometown. I have visited her about five times since I left for the U.S. and every time I visited gave me a feeling of nostalgia. There were also bad memories whenever I saw my hometown, but all those memories were the reasons why I am where I am now. My dad has become a U.S. resident (I knew it was his dream, after he waited a long time for his sister who has lived in Hawaii for a long time but never petitioned anyone). He passed away here in Minneapolis, MN in 1996, but I am so happy that he was able to come to the U.S., with me. I never knew a lot about him until we lived together.
My mom is still in the U.S. Two years ago, she was so depressed at the thought of retiring from her full time job. She never worked in the Philippines, and the joy and satisfaction of working and earning a living was not going to prevent her from working until she could not walk anymore. But, even when the spirit is willing, sometimes the body is not. So, at age 85, she officially retired. Thanks, Mama. Although her dream of buying an apartment building with 4 apartments in Guadalupe (one for each child - there are 4 of us living) did not materialize, I think she is now resigned to the fact that the body at some point, needed to rest. It will tell you so. Thanks to my Mama. She was always there whenever we needed her. That is why I needed to bring her to a country where I knew she could be happier, where all her friends have relocated (most of her friends from Guadalupe have migrated to the U.S.) - and sadly. most of them, some are younger than her - have already passed. (Update: on March 9, 2015, my Mama passed away. She was discharged from the hospital, and was taken to a "rehab and hospice" place. She did not last more than one week there. That's the reason why she did not want to move to a hospice. She knew what happens when someone is moved there. She was 86, retired as a full time employee only one year previously.)
I am so proud of my mother. She worked so hard all her life and that's why I wanted to bring her to the U.S. Here, she worked hard - very hard, but she loved it.
During the funeral, a lot of our hometown neighbors from Guadalupe, Makati, were there. What a camaraderie! The children of her best friend were there as well. During the wake, we, 4 daughters, and a grandson, spoke about her - high praises, and everything. The children of her best friend told us after the service that they didn't realize how precious she was to us. She was the poorer friend; their mother had everything in life. They said that when their mom passed, they could not find a line in the Bible to describe her because she only took care of herself. After hearing that, we all realized that, it is not money that matters. When our neighbors looked at the two friends, my mom looked like a servant to their mom. She would escort her, do everything for me, etc. Some people actually thought that my mom was a paid servant (I found that out during the Despedida Party. My mom was helping clean their house when one of the high society friends talked to her, finger wagging,"Hey you! You stay here and clean the house!". That woman was the mother of my high school sweetheart (she didn't know about me her and her son). So, when I heard that, and because of our economic status neighbors thought that my mom was a paid servant, being talked condescendingly, I made it a point to change my mom's life. And I did! To the very end, she earned her own money. She saved then, and every so often would call us to distribute our "shares", the living inheritance. So proud. I miss her!
Flying Back to Guadalupe
What greater gift is there than be able to enjoy the gift of travel; to share the gift of travel to your loved ones? My mother enjoyed flying back to our hometown, not on an economy class, but sitting on the best seats in the aircraft. Thanks to my flight benefits. I remember the only time she sat at an economy seat, she could not understand why that seat was smaller than the other seats assigned to her before. I just smiled. Luckily, that was from the shortest flight coming back to the U.S.
Someday, I will visit my hometown again. Someday, to reminisce, to enjoy, to meet the folks - friends, relatives, classmates who were left and enjoy her beauty and progress.
My hometown, Guadalupe, in Makati City, Philippines.
Edita N. Laurel
Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.