Childhood in Polo 

 (My Generation)

by Lorna Zabal Doman

  Childhood in POLO is the happiest experience in my life. Growing up with all my relatives especially our nephews and nieces are my contemporaries (cousins are older than me) are so much fun.

  I barely remember my Lola Pusay. I was six years old when she died. I remember every morning coming to her house or is it Nanay Aya’s house, she would ask me to sing and the only song I know is “Lupang Hinirang”-would belt it out so loud because I know she will give me “paborita”that Nay Pacen brings over to her in the morning.

My Nanay Pecta’s house is our favorite hangout. Connie and I would come to her house and use her big mirror, almost everyday. I still look for that mirror everytime I come to their house.

 Nanay Aya’s sleepover at Manong Libing’s house is full of excitement. After her sleepover she would come to our house in the morning and ask us if we had a party the night before.She claims she heared laughing, giggling and singing. Nanay said she did not heared anything. Stories abound that behind our house where a huge acacia tree Nay Aya and Tay Polo saw a lady in long hair in white dress dancing. How true is that I don’t know.

 My other aunt Nanay Deca, I always feel I am her favorite niece. Every time Tay Gario takes his vacation in Buruanga she would ask Nanay if I can accompany her while Tay Gario is on vacation. Just like Nono’s story she would cook a special meal her favorite ‘malunggay’ that grows in front of her house. I also helped her in her sari sari store especially on Sundays were there is a cockfight at Tay Dolo’s “bueangan”. Maybe I took over Nono when they moved to town.

  My other aunt Nay Omba; my other favorite aunt who I helped make “kumbo”to sell it down the street. A very hardworking single mom with 6 boys, she goes to the bukid to farm and comes home with guavas to give away to her nephew and nieces. She was in Manila when she got sick and wanted to come home to die. She went home accompanied by Doc Felma. I had finals when she arrived in Polo and was talking to myself to please wait for me Nay Omba. A couple of days later, finals over and I rushed home to Polo, got down in front of her house and “nagbisa ako” and I said I’m here now Nay Omba. She was already very frail and seems unconscious . I didn’t remember what I said but she moved as if she acknowledged my presence. I said goodbye and proceeded to go home. When I arrived home Nong Sulfing was there taking a nap.Not even long enough I was home and we heard cries and wailing and Nong Sulfing rushed home to find out Nay Omba had passed on. I still believe she waited for me.

 Nay Pacen the youngest sister always have words of wisdom for the young generation, tried her best to help all relatives what courses to take in college. She encourages  all her relatives to get a good education. She is also my 5th grade teacher. When I got sick she ask Tay Dadong to take me to the doctor in Malinao. I went with him to Malinao and stayed at his office all day. At times when Tatay go to the Banga to work in the post office he would drop me off at Nay Pacen’s house and forget to pick me up in the afternoon when he goes home… I would cry all night…that was very irresponsible leaving a child somewhere and forget about it. Transportation at that time was unbearable. Last trip to go home is 5pm.

 Tay Moises the only uncle I have known, the other uncle Tay Eyo,I heard he left to go to the US and never heared of him until Nong Gab found him later. Read Nong Gab’s story about his long lost uncle Tay Eyo. Tay Moises is a very funny,awnry guy. He is always teasing us about something, Dante use to cry a lot every time he is told he looks like “Moki”. He would literally roll down the floor and cry when Tay Moises teases him.

  The ZABAL sisters as everyone knows are so loved by everyone and can belt out a song in an instance. I remember when Nong Jun’s first vacation home after he joined the US coastguard, when he got off the jeepney,here comes three of the Zabal sisters running to him singing and crying at the same time. I wished I remember the words of the song.

  Life in the barrio is too fun, weekend is washing clothes in the Aklan River by Naga. I would pass by Manang Lita to pick up Connie with her pail of dirty clothes and we proceeded to go to the river. We really don’t mind having a full load of washing  because we know we are going to have fun  swimming afterwards. I found out much later, years later that Connie’s laundry is not really dirty,they are clean clothes ( just an excuse to go to the river with me) Manang Lita had already washed their clothes. I wonder why she finish washing ahead of me. We have so much fun swimming that I did not noticed some of my laundry were gone. Nong Ramon Navarro found some of my laundry washed out in “ilawod” days later.

  Swimming in the Aklan River is the pastime of all the kids. I remember I am supposed to babysit Dante but decided to go swimming with Doc Luz and here comes Dante wanted to go swimming with us but we don’t let him so he started throwing rocks at us that caused Luz to have a cut on her eyebrow. Doc Luz always reminded me of that incident.

  Summer is hot but there are a lot of fiesta and dances in the barrio are popular. Every afternoon is practice time with Bernardita Rabanes which I always missed because I only come later in the afternoon the very good reason I never learned to dance.The month of May is Flores de Mayo,the kids are busy with the “sagala,catechism” and the preparation for the upcoming fiesta. The young generations with Dr Luz are busy cleaning, weeding and painting the church. Dance is scheduled on Saturday nights and candidates print invitations with each candidate invite guests from neighboring barrios. Men are the only one paying entrance fees at the door to their favorite candidates. It probably take three Saturday dance before a candidate is proclaimed, whoever got the most money achieved will be crowned the  Miss Mayflower which will be crowned on the  eve before the fiesta.  The Polo fiesta falls on May 28-29 every year.

  The week before fiesta there is a mass every afternoon sponsored by one family or more. I heared the priest is very happy at each mass, there were lots of monetary collections and donations. There is a vesper mass ( day before the fiesta) in the afternoon and two masses in the day of the fiesta. Nanay always sponsors the first mass.

  Barangay Night was not practice when I was growing up, but I was able to witness one. I happened to be on vacation a couple  of days before the  fiesta.Barangay night is a celebration where only people from Polo are invited to attend. They hired a live band and bring their own food to be shared by everyone. It is a dance enjoyed by all ages and mostly observed by the young once until the wee hours.

  May is also is the month for basketball tournament. The RYZ team ( Reloj-Zabal-Yecla) with their surnames asks me if  I can sponsor their uniform which I happily obliged for a couple of years.

  Life overall in the barrio is peaceful, especially in Polo where everybody is my relatives. Older relatives had passed on, Nay Gundin at age 94 and Nanay  who is 92, the only matriarch left and still hanging on. Nong Mansit Reloj just died in Feb 2010 just after turning 85..

  Bebot Yecla the Polo Barangay Captain this year 2010 will be his last year in office. He is termed out, hope the next one can accomplished and finished what he started. He accomplished many things; the multi-purpose pavement was paved and tiles, the basketball court was finished. Carlos Andrada, the former barangay captain started the basketball court behind the elementary school building. The lot was donated by Juan Perez, Totong made sure paperwork was done for the donation.

  The younger generation should know that the Polo-Multi-Purpose Pavement lot was donated by Lola Pusay Rabanes Zabal and Lolo Epe Ighut as well as the lot were the Polo Elementary School is located. Lola Mansing the wife of Lolo Epe had been instrumental in helping a lot of people in need. Sunday afternoon Nanay would send me to her to borrow money for school in the promise of paying her back when Nong Jun’s allotment check arrives, that’s what Nanay told me to tell her.It happens quite often. She politely obliges to lend us money and Nanay promptly pays her back. I was already out of the country when she died, I don’t think I said thank you enough to her. I’ll say now thank you Lola Mansing.


Lorna Zabal Doman-From 04/05/10 to 04/09/10








      I wrote this while my husband was confined at Kaiser    Permanente for 5 days.

   He was diagnosed with Cholecystectomy and had to go an emergency surgery. The only free time I have since I was able to take a family leave at work. I would like to thank my family who was with me during those days. My brother Nong Romy, Nang Lydia and son Glenn, Nong Frank, Nong Edgar, Nene Fully and son Junjun, brother Boyet and Dante and son Brian for hanging out with me in the hospital, Angela who dropped us off to the doctor appoinment,to our youngest son Corey who try to see his dad and juggle between school and work, to Nong Jun and Theresa. To Andy’s brothers Fred and Bela who told us to update them and if there is anything they can do. To our friends Mary and Alex who loved Andy so dearly, to my cousins especially Nang Reza with her comforting words and Doc Felma with his doctor’s advice and to all the doctors, nurses and staff at Kaiser Permanente, Santa Teresa, San Jose, California.

 I just got a call Saturday afternoon from Kaiser that we left without paying our bill. I have to pay them over the phone. I thought she was checking how my husband was doing.