My salad days at the Ateneo really put the war years behind me. I got to wear shoes again, even if my first pair of the shoes after the war were combat boots. Although I wouldn’t call it a uniform, our regular wear consisted of khaki pants, long or short, depending on how hot it was, and a white shirt, with a “Trubenized” collar, long or short sleeved – again, depending on the temperature of the day.
Weekends were always “jam session” days. Every Saturday afternoon, from 6 PM to 10 PM, we would be at somebody’s house for a jam session. That’s what we would call our dance parties. Girls from schools like Sta. Scholastica, Mary Knoll, Assumption, Holy Ghost, Sta. Teresa, La Concordia, and Sta. Isabel, to name the more popular ones, would meet at somebody’s house to meet boys from the Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, Letran for some dancing and merienda. Ah, yes, those were the days, when girls were girls, and men were men.
It was in one of these sessions that I met your Lola. I always preferred her as a dancing partner, especially for the boogie. But other than that, there were others who were more appealing, so to speak. I wasn’t feeling anything special for her. I found her to be well-mannered and unusually reserved. But, oh, she could dance the boogie like no other in the room. I liked the way she would sway. There was nothing vulgar in the way she would execute the intricate steps of that very demanding dance. But I didn’t hear bells ringing and didn’t see comets flashing in the heavens when we were not dancing.
It’s fun to imagine my grandparents young, laughing and dancing the boogie!
But there was this girl, a Visayan belle, who took my breath away when we met, and who became my first official girlfriend. She affectionately always called me her palangga [dear]. We went steady for about a year. She was from the Assumption Convent in Herran, just on the other side of the wall that separated it from the Ateneo. I even visited this girl in her hometown in Silay, Negros, one summer vacation.
And in between, there were other girls who had crushes on me, which flattered me, of course, but which I did not return as I was never a two-timer. I was the boyfriend of my Visayan girl and she was my only girlfriend. But when it came to dancing the boogie and the paso-doble, ah, those were always with your Lola. What can I say? I guess this was her hold on me. But more on this later.