A very ’90s childhood

Saturday, August 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve said once that I don’t remember much about my childhood. It’s not because there are  few things to remember. In fact, I had a wonderful childhood, only I’ve grown to become incredibly forgetful that I had to be reminded that we had this, I did that, we went to this, and I wanted that.

Yet talking about my childhood, remembering what remains of the memories, has been a fascinating experience. Mostly, I reminisce about it with my sister, who shares most of my childhood adventures. And always, always, we catch ourselves laughing at our juvenile silliness.

“Remember ‘Macarena?'”

“Yes, yes.” And we’d sing “Macarena” and dance like crazy.

“Barbie Girl?”

“I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie wo-ooo-oorld.”

Then the memories would trickle down, and off we’d travel down the memory lane, the portions of my childhood, in faded colors, with blurry faces, running at a mild speed on my mind.

Although I oftentimes find my childhood kind of funny, I miss the youthful innocence and carefree days that went with it. My youthful years passed, and so did the decade that nurtured me, taking with it its colorful and varied nuances. The ’90s was generally good to grow up in — not as confused as the 80s and not as technology-obsessed as today. And thankfully, I have few vivid memories of it.

Would you mind if I share some? It’s just me having a sweet case of nostalgia, so if you don’t mind, here’s a list.

Ang TV Unless I had an afternoon school schedule, I always made sure I was home before 4:30 pm so that by the time the Ang TV kid hollered “4:3o na, Ang TV na,” I was already sitting in front of the TV. I was a fan that way. And I enjoyed every minute it was on. Was it because of the jokes? Not really. The production numbers? Nah. What I found engaging was this group of kids making fun of themselves, throwing corny jokes after corny jokes, seemingly enjoying their share of TV visibility. As a young viewer, I could identify with their wholesomeness and innocence, and they even figured in my viewing experience as my afternoon barkada, so even if I didn’t know them personally and they didn’t know of my existence, I felt this strange connection.

Brick game

It pales in comparison to PSP; brick game seems like a boring game console. But perhaps as much as the other ’90s kids, I was likewise boring because I settled for, and actually found joy in, a console that offered 99 (or more) of the same connect-the-bricks games. And I kid you not, I played for hours until I could visualize the bricks in my lull time and dream of them in my sleep. I thought it was just me, but it turned out that playing for hours on end could turn on the menacing imaginary brick game, and before you know it, you’re mentally strategizing your moves  and angling the bricks at the most winning positions.

Cold Milo + cheese-flavored French fries

This combo kept me company when watching Balitang K, the magazine show hosted by Korina Sanchez. I would make a big Tupperware tumbler of cold Milo and buy cheese-flavored French fries before the show aired. I remember I ate my fries and drank my Milo with gusto but not so quickly because I wanted them to last till the show’s end credits.  Nobody knew of this until this blog post. Why I never cared to tell anyone, I don’t know. And now that I’m grownup, I realize I have never again watched any show with a staple snack . So I’m thinking, what was so special with Balitang K that I made sure I watched it with a special snack combo? Only my 12-year-old self can tell.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I’m sure I watched only a few episodes of this cartoon series. By few, I mean not over ten, because quite frankly, I’m not so amused by animated action series. I don’t even know much about this show, except that it’s about four ninja buddies who happened to be turtles.  But it’s part of my childhood because I was Donatello. My older cousin was Raphael, my sister was Leonardo, and my other cousin was Michelangelo. Remember,  back in your childhood days, you picked out a character from a show and played it during your afternoon play time? We did that. I can’t remember the science behind the picking of names (or why we even had to be them). Maybe I was fascinated by Donatello’s  violet mask.  Or maybe he was the only character left. But I’m glad I picked him. It turned out he’s a genius. Ahem.


Another action series and another childhood memory of mine for the sole reason that I was Pink Five. Remember their lines? Red One! Green Two! Blue Three! Yellow Four! Pink Five! And then there was their grand pose. Sure, I sometimes watched the series, but only because, again, I was Pink Five. And this time, I appointed myself to be her. I can’t figure if my being Pink Five sparked my liking for pink, or it had begun early on and was only manifesting. Anyway, of all the Bioman characters, I notice that Pink Five was the most popular, even if there were two ladies in the show. No biases here, but really I wonder why. Perhaps because unlike boyish Yellow Four, Pink Five was very ladylike, and it’s quite unlikely for a supposedly action-packed series to have such a lovely woman fighting like the rest of the guys, running, rolling over the ground,  and pointing weapons at enemies in a pink suit. It’s what I call irony.


Before VCDs and DVDs and Blue-ray and movie downloading and online watching, there was VHS. We rarely went to cinemas when I was a kid, so I owe a large part of my childhood movie experience to VHS. Because of it, I was able to watch The Little Rascals, Home Alone, Free Willy, Baby’s Day Out, Beethoven, and other movies in that league. So even if we had to rewind VHS tapes, even if they were bulky and required too much space, and even if they were not as convenient to use like DVDs, I liked them. In fact, we often rented VHS tapes from nearby rental shops, which usually had long lists of movies in clear books. Our VHS player and tapes have long been gone, but our rewinder our still with us. Had I been smarter, I would have kept and preserved them. It’s nice to once in a while watch movies the archaic way, you know.


And then there’s the legendary cassette. You know you’re old if you have an experience with cassette tapes and players. And yes, I have plenty of those experiences. I remember my dad, who was working abroad, sent us voiced tapes. They sounded like he was on phone, only we couldn’t answer him back. Of course, we also recorded our own voiced tapes. My mom would tell us to “talk” to Daddy, which meant blabbering in front of a cassette player. And by the way, do you remember Walkman? Walkman as in Sony’s portable cassette player and not today’s Sony Walkman as in mp3 player and cell phone. Unlike portable players of today, Walkman couldn’t be kept in jean pockets or clipped to clothes or connected to a computer. It was as simple as that — a portable cassette player. We still had to load the cassette tape, right side facing out. Or was it in? Oh, I don’t know. Tape loading is something that I didn’t master. Honestly, I still don’t know which side should be facing out if I wanted to play side A.


When I was thinking of more items for this post, my sister had to remind me of slumbook. Oh, how could I forget slumbook? How? How? If you’re a ’90s kid like me, you probably owned or signed one, and after writing on several slumbooks, you most likely had mastered the questions which, if you now look back, were actually silly.  But us being kids, we had a way around those questions: our answers were hundred times sillier. What is your favorite food? MTM (Many to mention). Describe yourself. Just judge me. What is love? Love is like a rosary that is full of mystery. Who is your crush? Secret. Who is your first kiss?Parents (Or mom). And then we’d write the slumbook owner a dedication (a supposedly “thank you” message), which included achingly sweet acronyms such as J.A.P.A.N (Just Always Pray At Night) and I.T.A.L.Y (I Always Trust And Love You). I don’t know about other ’90s kids, but I felt special whenever someone asked me to sign a slumbook. And I felt even more special when someone agreed to sign mine, because I actually had taken pains to scour for and buy the best slumbook I could get my lanky hands on and present it to my classmates. Speaking of which, have you heard of The “Akala Mo Wala Nang Slumbook Pero Meron, Meron, Meron” slumbook? It’s a witty take on the proverbial, very ’90s slumbook, with hilarious questions and equally hilarious answer options that would remind you of our youthful, nonchalant humor.

Image from Witty Will Save The World, Co. Multiply site

Street games

I’m glad that I belong to a generation whose form of entertainment was playing street games. Back then, we didn’t know that plants and zombies could have a skirmish and that birds could get angry. And although we would visit with Mario and Luigi and feed Pacman once in a while, they couldn’t keep us from going out. There was always time for street games, and we took the best of it. Every afternoon, or after school, my playmates, who happened to be my sister, cousins, and neighbors, and I would gather up in our place or in our street and play such games as tagu-taguanpatinteroagawan-base, ten-twenty, Chinese garter, and street football, stopping only after saying or hearing someone yell taym pers (time first) to have a pee or water break. And believe it or not, we rarely had fights. Everything was very amicable, and if there were things that needed to be discussed, we discussed them as peacefully as we know how. The only major trouble we had was getting wounds, the proofs of which are permanent reminders of the olden days. But I didn’t and still don’t mind. I’d gladly have them again if it means spending the afternoon with my best buds to make the best of our youth and then going home before sunset, all sweaty and smelly, but nonetheless happy and healthy.

Lea Salonga

I had been aware of Lea even before Aladdin, which by the way is one of my favorite childhood movies. I admired her. With naive arrogance and unfounded certainty, I even told my mom I would become like Lea someday. Not as good a singer as she is — although as a little girl, I suffered from a delusion that I could sing well — but as a world-famous person. At about the same time Aladdin was shown, my admiration for her grewFact is, although I can’t even measure up to Lea’s shadow, my dream to become like her remains.

Children’s parties

Of course, I miss them — the sweet spaghetti, the skewered hotdog and marshmallows, the balloons, the loot bags, the “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game. We rarely threw children’s parties. But we were always invited to some, especially by our neighbors. I remember being excited when the place was being set up (I could see because only a short wall separated our yard from theirs), because to me, the next few hours would be absolute fun. There was no grandiosity in the parties that I attended, but they’re enough to make childhood experiences that I would reminisce about from time time, something that I like doing as you can see.


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