Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow by Linggoy Alcuaz
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

CORY PRESS SECRETARY TOMAS 'BUDDY' GOMEZ III ON THE WHITE LADY OF BALETE DRIVE!

(Part 3)

Jun 15, 2021, 12:00 AM
Linggoy Alcuaz

Linggoy Alcuaz

Columnist

“So ‘Calbayog’ are we that, Deo and I are not only boyhood friends who never lost touch with one another all these years, but before our time, his father and uncles, and my father were childhood friends and playmates, too.

Aside from being borne of the town’s ‘principalia,’ they were conscious of their common ‘sacerdotal heritage’---- natural grandchildren of Spanish Franciscans! Source of Calbayog’s mestizaje!

“Speaking of hometown, Deo belongs to the Ortega branch of Calbayog’s prominent Rosales clan and through his mother, he also belongs to the Cincos, the Catbalogan-rooted oldest and largest clan in Samar and perhaps in Eastern Visayas, tracing their ancestry to 1700 Fukienese migration.

“Deo recalls that at the time of the accident he was in third year high school having just transferred to UP at Diliman, QC, from the Christ the King Seminary HS.

That’s the castle-like structure along E. Rodriguez, on the same side as St. Luke’s Medical Center… His family was then living in nearby Kamuning.

“In the late 1940’s, Manila neighborhood teeners usually attended different schools (parental choices, I presume) but congregated as gangmates, where their homes were, enjoying common teen age social activities such as simply hanging out in one another’s homes, occasional dance jam sessions (Boogie and ‘slaw drag’), even joyrides on reconditioned surplus G.I. jeeps.

Deo recalls: “we formed a gang which held jam sessions at the residence of Atty. Jose Gamboa at Lantana,” a street perpendicular to Balete. “Leni Garchitorena who lives nearby would attend the jam sessions driving a Fiat. Incidentally the popular music at that time were My Happiness (Pied Pipers) and Woodchopper’s Ball (Woody Herman).”

“Deo no longer remembers the exact date in 1949 but “One night, while we, namely Arthur Gamboa, Miranda, 2 Teosejo brothers and myself, and Leni plus Linda, Arthur’s sister, were at Atty. Gamboa’s residence. We decided to joy ride around Manila with Narding Teosejo as the driver of his Jeep.”

There were seven teenagers on that ride. I remember Leonardo Tiosejo from San Beda, a classmate of Enrique “Spanky” Perez, my longest-oldest bosom pal. Both belonged to HS ’51.

“But in going back, Leni was the driver. While cruising España Extension Blvd. at 50 mph, she hit a pile of gravel and sand that caused the jeep to turn turtle causing Leni to be thrown out of vehicle around 6 meters away, bleeding with jeep battery near her head.”

And as Deo earlier recounted, she died the following day.

“As it actually happened, the accident was not on Balete Drive itself but along España Ext. close to where both streets intersect.

Deo recalls Leni Garchitorena was mestiza, about 5’5”, somewhat pleasingly plumpish, ‘simpatica,’ a ‘colegiala’ from the Assumption.

“Deo also remembers that in 1952, after a 3 - year lapse, there was a magazine follow-up story on the accident, “mentioning the presence of a UP student during the mishap.”

“While I was out, a reporter came to our Kamuning home, told my brother the purpose of his visit and asked for a photo. My brother innocently gave my high school graduation picture which was published along with the Balete Drive ghost sightings. Leni’s family was dismayed and called me a publicity seeker.

That was most probably the last time Leni Garchitorena’s name was ever mentioned, as the ghost stories her untimely demise launched, persistently floated all these decades.

Until today.


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