For several days (and nights!) now and counting, something just brought dramatic change to my interaction appetite. I have to confess that this has made me awake up to past my bedtime. And on waking up, the temptation is so strong to make a peep for posts before anything else. Then quite during the day, I would check every so often for updates, comments and among others. Moreover, in an unprecedented manner, my Facebook account has never been this flooded as much. I am sure, very very sure, that i am not alone in this latest social trend. All these and more is courtesy of the newest craze in town – the Batang Puerto Princesa Facebook page.
In its own way and level, the said social interaction could well be considered already as a mania. In few days of existence, five days to be exact, the group could already count with 13, 803 members (as of 6:17am, September 13, 2017). And to think that this only just a closed group. As I tried to search, on clicking “bat”, Batang Puerto Princesa would popped quickly first. Then followed second by “Battleship Island”, the latest blockbuster Korean movie that is breaking record in terms of the box-office. This recently world-acclaimed film came only as next to the voguish page of Puerto Princesa in my Facebook search. If this is not a sort of phenomenon then what is? And to think that there is now another social page of this kind – Batang Narra that is.
This craze was started by Majal Bautista, now Manila-based but obviously has left her soul in the once idyllic Puerto Princesa. What prompted her to create the page? I checked her post and I could surmise two things. One, she was all nostalgia about the old Puerto Princesa. Homesickness, you know. She counted on local folks as everybody just knew everyone. She recalled that nationally-circulated newspapers are one late before they became really news to Puerto Princesans. And at that time, there was only “one” for everybody – one tv channel, one radio station, one park, one palengke, one sports stadium, one shoe-repair shop, one funeral parlor, among others. And two, exasperation drove Majal to launch the page. She posted that news lately are horrible. Her formerly peaceful hometown was “heaven turned hell”. Wherefore, she pleaded to all Batang Puerto Princesa, “Huwag nating hayaan na ang bayan natin ay masira sa kasaysayan dahil sa mga balita na nakapagbibigay ng maling identity sa ating dating bata sa Puerto Princesa.”
And the ball just keep rolling. Flood has become proverbial with posts, photos, comments, etc. There is even now an inkling for an official logo, official song and a coffee table book about the decades that passed along the common memory lane of the not-so-older folks of Puerto Princesa.
What has been trending thus far? There are images that we can easily repute of. To wit in a random order:
There was Lolo Cardo over the radio at six in the evening everyday. A one-man drama show that was well-loved by children and parents alike. And on Sundays, Lolo Kardo hosted singing contest for children. Prizes were solicits from neighborhood grocery stores. Lolo Kards is iconic in his own right.
There was Father Cosmilla and “sidekick” Father Frutos. Father Cosmilla sporting long-wavy beard looked like every inch an old sage that you can always turn to for nuggets of wisdom. And who would not know Father Frutos? Tall, good-looking, blue-eyed Spanish man who could participate well at any given time in a Cuyonon oration that could make even a natural-speaking Cuyunon turn pale with his erudition of the native language.
There was Jimmy, the sweepstakes guy. Up until now, Jimmy is still there where you saw him the last time. Very bubbly. Always sunny. In posts, Jimmy is tagged as “Hindi ka taga-Puerto kung hindi mo siya kilala.”
Mendoza Park comes alive in this page as well. There was only this venue for everything and for anything. Cultural nights, beauty pageants, political rallies, literary-musical contests, sports events, playground for children, tambay tambay lang, among others. Not to mention, palabas ng mga artista was a sure crowd-drawer that made this arena even more joyful and colorful.
And, schools. Rivalries are revived too. While there is that detectable undercurrent, it is quite a relief that everybody could just smile about it. Needless to say, the competition remains unsettled. It is exciting that it should stay that very way- a healthy rivalry. So, who draws the biggest crowd on a cultural night? PSU or PNS? Who fares better in quiz bee? Pilot or East? Who got more talent? HTU or Seminario? And less we forget, which school has more beautiful people?
These are just several images down memory lane. Everyone has the liberty to add from his own perspective. Just yet, the above-mentioned are picturesque of our common life and culture. They do influence people. Lolo Cardo is media and communications. Father Cosmilla is faith-life. Jimmy is the face of daily-living and hope. Mendoza Park is symbolic of free expression and unity. Schools, undoubtedly, are natural extensions of family. All these evoke not just a memory but they also arouse to dream again…. and to dream some more.
That the admin of this page has strictly instructed everyone that this should be devoid of politics then this phenomenon is a real relief from fake news, EJK’s, Customs smuggling, CHR 1000 pesos budget, etc. Not to mention our local brand of bickering. One thing is proven as true – masaya pala kapag walang halong pulitika. But this is only made possible now by social media and by looking back to the dekada 70-90.