Growing up in Pasay City in the early 60's, instead of watching The Three Stooges in black and white or Popeye which my brothers have memorized from the frequent reruns, I preferred to hang out in the street. We were called ‘Standbys’. The convenience store at the corner of Ibarra St. and P. Reyes was owned and operated by my cousins. They sold, depending on the season, goodies such as nilagang mais (boiled corn), suman latik (wrapped rice with coco-sugar sauce), puto bumbong (purple yam cake steamed in bamboo tube), etc. They had a subscription to local comics, like Hiwaga Komiks and Wakasan Komiks. They rented out the issues for a few centavos. I got to read for free because I’m in the family.
The ‘standbys’ were like brothers and sisters. The jokes were more entertaining than cartoons. We teased each other without offence taken. Some of the favorites were over receding hairline, body odor, obvious cowardice, height, etc. Aliases were assigned as a joke like Mama’s Boy, Boy Dirty or Boy Dummy. If you have a long face you could be called “Yokab” (horse).Once in a rare while a fight unfolds before our eyes. And of course I stayed put and watched till it was done. I remember some street protocol:
1. When a parent should ask about anything pertaining to their child, information should only be given if no spanking could result.
2. If authorities like the police should ask about anyone, information should be given if it does not involve jail time.
3. When a friend gets into an altercation with someone from another neighborhood, we’re all involved by choice and should be willing to go ‘resback’, which means to confront the bad guys because our guy was always the 'good guy'.
4. If a boy likes a girl, everyone else gives up interest in her.As I grew into my teen years, a new batch replaced the ‘Standbys’ who have either moved to another place or have found a job, a wife or all of the above. The new batch included one that I secretly dated. Secretly because I was thirteen and logic dictates it would get me into trouble with my mom.
|Corner Store at P. Reyes St.|
Life happened to all of us so suddenly. Now the street corner and the store are still there. The Standbys, where have we all gone?
The Standbys of Makati
Pasay City Kids