Opinyon

We Take a Stand

What Do I Do On My Birthday?

4 min read

By Linggoy Alcuaz | Published: October 20, 2020

 

Since I started driving in October of 1966, I have tried to do different things on my Birthdays, Christmas Days and the Holy Week long weekends.

In my freshman year in college, I turned from 17 to 18 years of age. The minimum driving age was 18.  A minimum six months as a student driver was a pre-requisite for a permanent license. I can’t remember, if one could apply for a student driver’s license at 17 and a half or 18 years of age.

Anyway, I already had my non-professional driver’s license, was allowed to drive in the neighborhood, but not yet to school at the Ateneo de Manila University College of Arts and Sciences in Loyola Heights in Quezon City.

 

The Day I Drove To School

Then one day, our driver did not report for work.

My father asked me if I could drive to school. I said, yes! And he told me to use our bantam car. He did not ask me, if I knew how to drive a car with a manual transmission. I never saw or heard that my father drove or had ever driven.

At that time, we had a 1965 Ford Taunus (German) 17M with a V4 engine and with four-speed manual transmission in two tone — yellow and black.

We also had three gas-guzzling American V8’s with General Motors Hydramatic automatic transmissions  –  1960 Pontiac Catalina hard top in blue, 1955 and 1954 Oldsmobile 98’s in two tone, blue and white and blue green and white.

 

Baptism Of Fire

I did not dare tell my Dad that I was not as used to driving a manual as well as I was used to driving an automatic even if the cars were bigger, as full – sized American Sedans or a Hardtop for that matter.

Lest my emancipation be delayed, I took off with the Taunus.

The only casualties of my official ‘Baptism of Fire!’ were some clothes and “palangganas” parked on the shoulder of Ermin Garcia/Minnesota St. between 16th and 17th Avenues in Cubao, near the homes of the Bulataos, Jaymes, Jazminezes, and Quizons.

 

Weekends Of My Youth

Starting October 12, 1967, my 19th, up to last Monday, my 72nd Birthday Anniversaries, I had looked forward and planned to do something different and memorable.

On the other hand, my plans for Christmas Days and Holy Week, weekends, were not unique nor dramatic.

Since my maternal grandparents early 1900s Ancestral Home at # 1030 Resurreccion Hidalgo St., Quiapo, Manila, burned down in 1961, we lost our venue for our maternal Araneta Family Christmas parties.

Since our paternal Alcuaz Family Christmas parties were “Noche Buenas” on December 24, the Eve of Christmas, my Christmas days from 1962 to 1965 or 1966 were sad anti-climaxes.

Since the first Christmas that I could already drive and was allowed to use a family car on a permanent basis, I made it a point to visit my friends who might be depressed, lonely or sad.

New Year’s days were different because of the usual hangover after the previous midnight’s revelries.

 

Bringing Cheer To Friends

Whenever, we did not have out of town plans or schedules during Holy week, I also went around bringing cheer to my lonely friends on at least one day of the four-day weekend.

When I had my own Family, I usually planned our out of town schedules for the Palm Sunday weekend rather than the Easter weekend and stayed home during the latter.

Among the beneficiaries of my visits were Emmanuel ‘Manny’ E. Cruz, Alfredo ‘Freddie’ Navarro Salanga, Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Jaminola Esguerra, Emmanuel ‘Eman’ Flores Lacaba, Manuel ‘MD’ Datu Kellog Rebueno, Herman ‘Mentong’ Tiu Laurel, Manny’s sister ‘Ging’ E. Cruz, the Misa sisters, Melo Acuña, and the most unique and memorable among them, Rolando ‘Boyet’ Montiel.

 

A “Bombing” Campaign

In 1980, from the time of Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ S. Aquino y Aquino’s medical furlough to the USA, until the bombing (right after President Ferdinand Marcos y Edralin delivered his speech.) of the American Society of Travel Agencies (ASTA) convention at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Gerry and Boyet, planned and conducted a bombing campaign against the Marcos regime, under the name “April 6 Liberation Movement” (A6LM).

By December 25, quite a number of A6LM operatives had been captured and detained.

Boyet and a team had retreated to the eastern parts of Laguna province.

They, including Jesus ‘Chut’ Cellano, had been brought to the Laguna Philippine Constabulary (PC) Provincial Headquarters in Sta. Cruz.

 

A Priceless Gift

In my back from September 1972 retirement, role as intelligence and counter intelligence, I had befriended a “Born Again” PC Lieutenant Colonel, Victor ‘Vic’ K. Laurilla.

Early on the morning of December 25, 1980, he called me and offered a priceless Christmas gift – a visit to Boyet, whose whereabouts and detention were unknown to his family and comrades at that time.

I quickly acquiesced, packed my Polaroid camera and picked up Vic in Makati and drove with him to Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Boyet was in the Provincial Commander’s residence, while Chut and others were in an administrative office. We were first brought to the latter and then to Boyet.

 

Proof Of Life

Since, we were alone in the living room, I pulled out my Polaroid, had Boyet hold up the latest newspaper and clicked away.

At that very moment, the Provincial Commander, Vic’s mistah at the PMA, class of 1967, walked in, saw us, but did not confiscate my film and camera.

We went home with the best Christmas gift that a wife could receive – “proof of life” of her husband.

The wife was Author and Ateneo Sociology Professor Cristina ‘Tina’ Jayme Montiel.

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