I only became aware of my surroundings and about the things that were happening in our immediate family when I was about 6 or 7 years old and this was the start when I was able to recollect most of the things in my world to which I was born into. I don’t seem to recall anything prior to this time period. What I knew during this time span, as conveyed to us children, was that as small babies and toddlers, two servants were hired to take care of us, to do household chores and one of them prepared our meals.

When I seven years old, my mother enrolled me at the Daliao Elementary School which was within walking distance from our house; maybe around 6 blocks. At about this time, I did not seem to notice I had an older brother, he was never around to play with. I played with the children who lived near our house and they were poor; their parents were not schooled in the universities in Manila. But as little boy, I didn’t care about their social status, we were all the same and having fun playing cowboys and marbles.

I must have been around 8 years old when my mother brought me to live with my grandparents on my father side. And that was in Banaong, in the province of Pangasinan, a 6 days trip by boat….too far away from home. While I was with my grandparents, I was told that this other kid living there was my brother. He was also sent there to live with my grandparents a year or two ago.
Vicente, Godo Sr, Junior
(Grandma is in the window)
I don’t remember ever being lonely when I lived with my grandparents because there were also cousins of about the same age living there with their parent.  This house was large with large living room, three bedrooms, with a large Altar at the top of the stairs with a large space to accommodate the all the people living in the house during the nightly prayer time. There were other rooms in the first floor; one was converted into a clinic where my Aunt Aludia practiced her medicine. The other room was a refuge for my Grandpa to be away from the commotions.

I was informed by my cousin that during that time there were seven families living in the house. My Aunt Carmen’s family occupied one room and all of them sleep on the floor, parents and children. No privacy. They didn’t use mosquito net. One night on my way to the bathroom very late at night, I saw my aunt making love with her husband. I recalled there were also other aunts living in the house, but I didn’t know their social status. As a very young boy, their life situation was the least of my concern since playing with my cousins, going to elementary schools, playing hooky, and avoiding grandma’s presence was part of the game.

My grandma was a step and a good disciplinarian.  Each one of us grandchildren had a separate 15 minute or so session with her in the afternoon and to go over the catechism and memorization of prayers in Spanish, using a pamphlet called “caton”. We knelt beside her while she sat in her reclined chair and we went over the lesson nervously, because, if we make a mistake, we get pinched in the thigh or got scolded. But if you knew your stuffs, you get a smile from her.

My grandpa, called Dr Vicentico by the locals was a pharmacist and then studied medicine but was not license as a medical doctor because at his time in order to be licensed to practice medicine, one has to go abroad to countries like Spain or Germany. But somehow Grandpa, through experience in his field, he was granted a medico license to practice limited medicine.

Life in this house was a picnic. We had nice meals prepared by servants. The house sat on a large piece of ground and fruit trees of different types abound and with a large flower garden that extended for several hundred feet from the house to the street. My grandparents didn’t have a car at that time, so transportation to adjoining towns and to Dagupan City was made on a horse drawn buggy (calesa). There was no rush to get anywhere as time almost stood still. It was an idyllic setting to experience a good lazy life, except for the time in the afternoon when each of us cousin knelt in front of Grandma for the catechism lessons and memorizing the prayers.

Occasionally, during school holidays Vic and I would visit the other grandparents on my mother side in Dagupan City. While we were there, we had the opportunity to be with our other cousins.    I remembered that it was also nice and carefree and we, including the cousins, didn’t have lessons with the caton and recitation of prayers.   We were free all day long. I didn’t remember them having servants because my grandma would serve the food during meals. Every morning someone would bring fresh fishes and shrimps harvested from the salt-water fishpond by the sea owned by my grandparents.
As it is with young children, I never keep track of the time or the year but I think I stayed with my grandparents in Banaong for one year and went to school for one year only at the Banaong Elementary School because I remembered going through one teacher, and that was my uncle-in-law. He was short and stocky and a feared teacher and I don’t even remembered if he was a good teacher, but I remembered him for his antics by pinching my ear and pulling me up from my seat. I don’t know how many times he did this to me but if you look at one of my ear, you will see it is stretched a little bit as the cartilage is damaged. The teacher was Fort’s father. I am sure he used this teaching method to other pupils if one didn’t know the answer. This was the only incident I recalled being close to torture along with my step-grandma pinches in the thigh that spoiled an otherwise an idyllic sojourn to Pangasinan.

April 7, 1941
Godofredo is marked with an X
After being away from my parents for one year, I found myself back in Davao, in the town of Toril with my parents. Vic remained in Banaong living with the grandparents; I guess he liked it there as the grandparents spoiled him. What I remembered most in my mind during these episode were the times I spent with my neighborhood friends, playing games of marbles; playing cowboys with a banana leaf midrib fashioned to simulate the horse’s head, neck and body and stradling over it as if we were riding on a horse with toy guy guns, chasing each other like they do in cowboy movies; and going through the elementary school.

As with other kids in my circle of friends do, I also did what they were doing and that was shining shoes during Sundays when the town of Toril was bustling. People from neighboring towns would descend on Toril to market their goods, buy food supplies, go to the cockfights and gamble and just go to town to seek for an adventure. I would walk to the town center with my shoebox in hand and asked anyone wearing leather shoes, brown, black or a combination with white, if they wanted their shoes shined or polished. People who knew me would ask me why I was shining shoes since my parents were rich. I just smiled at them with a look of ignorance and persuaded them to have their shoes shined.