Growing up in the Barrio
Ruth M. Floresca

Ruth Floresca shares some local color from Rizal, Laguna province. 

I have fond memories of my childhood. We lived then in a small town called Rizal in the province of Laguna, my mother’s birthplace. I remember having fun catching salagubang during the summer months so my playmates and I can tie them to strings and make them fly. We would scout around the nearby woods for kaimito trees then proceed to shake the branches until the insects fall out.

“Naku bata ka!” my lola used to scold me. That’s for dumping all the posporo sticks on our kitchen counter just so I can get the boxes to house my ‘pets’.

I will always love the summer months of my childhood when my cousins and I would roam the woods for hours, only coming back home for a bite to eat and then we’ll be off again on our adventures. We’d catch dragonflies that alight on tall grass stalks and scour the bushes for wild berries we call sampinit. My tatay used to get us pieces of bamboo where we can dump all the berries in. After a little sprinkling of sugar, we’d used narrow bamboo sticks to mash and scoop the concoction for a delightful afternoon treat. Children these days don’t have it that good!

Come the rainy season, we kids would unabashedly hurry outside in our underwear to enjoy the pouring showers [naliligo sa ulan]. Our enjoyment must have come more from the fact that we only have tabo inside the house to use for bathing.

The months of September and October are also special for me. That’s the season when the lanzones fruits in our bakuran can be finally picked. Right after the service jeepney dropped me off from school, I would climb to our roof wearing only my kamison and there would find bliss in munching on the sweet harvest within easy reach.

As I grew up, I gradually realized how sheltered my growing up years were compared to kids who grew up in the more progressive towns of Laguna. When I went to high school in Los Baños, my classmates would most often scratch their heads at my odd use of words. They couldn’t understand that when I say silok, it meant spoon, or that kampit is my barrio’s word for knife. Funny how we were all raised in Tagalog households but I guess where I came from, we use deeper Tagalog words. Little by little, my barrio punto became non-existent and I began to sound more like most of my classmates.

The best tale however was yet to come. When I first brought my boyfriend, now husband, to meet the folks at home, a cousin of mine commented, “Ay, ikaw pala ang paitik ni Gigi!” Imagine the confusion that raced across my boyfriend’s face.

Nowadays though, when we go home to Laguna, I can only smile when my husband starts conversing with my relatives and easily spews out words I grew up with -- and with matching punto to boot! 

Ruth Floresca has a degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. A freelance writer since 2002, she had her works published in several national magazines and newspapers aside from Internet websites.



Barrio – a small barangay; in the Philippines, a town or municipality is composed of several barrios

Rizal, Laguna – a town 97 kilometers south of Manila, located between the municipalities of Nagcarlan and San Pablo, Laguna 

Salagubang – a type of beetle that barrio kids catch by shaking branches of certain trees where they are most often found; 

Kaimito – a star apple tree; scientific name is Chrysophyllum cainito

Posporo – matchsticks

Sampinit – a kind of wild berry found on mountainsides and forests that uncannily looks like its American counterpart raspberry

Tatay – or Itay, a Tagalog word that some Filipinos use to call their fathers instead of Dad, Papa or Daddy

Tabo – a plastic dipper used to scoop water from a pail when bathing

Lanzones – a bunch of fruits that look like grapes but are colored yellow and very different in taste and composition; scientific name is Lansium domesticum

Bakuran – the term encompasses the front and backyard of a house 
[literally "fence" - 'bakod', plus suffix - 'an']

Jeepney or dyip – a decorated vehicle which can accomodate up to 18>

Kamison – a white cotton shift used by schoolgirls under their uniforms in the old days

Silok – a variation of kutsara, another Tagalog word (derived from Spanish) for spoon

Kampit – a small knife, also called kutsilyo (Sp) in Tagalog

Punto – accent; a certain way of using words through different intonations or the variation of tone used when speaking; may differ from locality to locality

Paitik – a teasing way of calling somebody’s boyfriend or girlfriend instead of the real Tagalog word kasintahan [literally prefix - 'pa', plus 'itik'- "duck"]

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