Caloocan City, Philippines: My Time as a Salingkit

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Caloocan City, Philippines: My Time as a Salingkit

I must admit, I grew up in an era when mobile phones, tablets and the likes were non-existent. I think the most high-tech gadget I ever got my hands on was a handheld electronic game. Kids of my generation in Caloocan went outside to play, and it was hard to play by ourselves so we always had to have at least one friend by our side. Unlike these days. Now you can just give a kid an ipad or a smart phone, connect to the internet and he or she will be out of your hair for the whole day. They can be left alone in bed or on the sofa, as long as the gadget is with them, they can entertain themselves and they will be content.

Our place in Sangandaan, Caloocan was just a small two-room apartment. My sister and I had to share one room together with our household help, while the other room was the “master bedroom” where mom and dad slept. We only had one bathroom, so you can imagine what our mornings were like with everyone rushing to go to school or work.

We lived near the PNR (Philippine National Railways) Caloocan Depot. We were not sure what it was actually called, I just remembered we always called it “PNR;” whenever we wanted to go there, we would just say, “hey, let’s go to PNR.” I remember it being an open area with lots of foliage, there were some trains, though I wasn’t sure if they were running. There were a few one to two storey office buildings, although I never really saw people milling around the place. Whenever we got the chance to play there, there would be a guard at the gate and a few cars in the parking lot. There was also a tennis court and sometimes in the afternoon there would be some people playing tennis. When I was little, I thought that it was a park. I didn’t know what PNR stood for and never thought to ask until I was a lot older and realized what the compound and PNR actually was.

Oh my, those were the days. How I miss them so, back when my life was so carefree. But each age has its own advantages as well, I like to think.


Our apartment in Caloocan was located on a dead end. We were never afraid we would be run over since the only vehicles that would pass by would be the ones owned by our neighbors. We would often play hide and seek, tag, patintero or street football. I was small, thin and weak then, and my older sister usually wouldn’t want me to be on her team because she was sure I would cause her team to lose. But she was afraid that I’d tell our mom and she would get scolded, so what they would often do is include me as “salingkit” – someone who joins an activity but is not really included. When this person commits a mistake, there would be no points deducted from the group she belonged to. It’s usually done to appease a younger person, in this case, me, so that he or she would not cause trouble for the older ones. I believe it worked because I cannot remember a time when I told my sister on our parents.

Our curfew was at 6:00 in the evening, but we would stay outside until we would see our mom walking down the street. My sister and I would scamper on home, stealthily so that our mom won’t see us. If she saw us, we were sure to get a scolding, if not a spanking. We would either pretend to watch TV or stay in our room pretending to study, especially during school days.


Philippines – Church

School was from 7:00 am until 3:30 in the afternoon and we usually just walked home from school, around a 15-20 minute walk. We could actually ride the jeep, but it didn’t pass directly by our house or our street and we still would have to do some walking in order to get home. Plus, we usually had friends who would walk with us, so it was actually much more fun to walk. I remember eating my favorite bubble gum, the cherry ball, during that time. It cost around 5 cents for 5 small pieces. There were bigger sizes, but they cost a bit more at 5 cents each, so I would buy the smaller ones. I’d have plenty more and I would share with my friends .

When we didn’t have classes, my mom would give us a few pesos so we could buy snacks in the afternoon. There was a small sari-sari store just outside of our house. I would buy a pack of Prima Toast and Sarsi, our local version of root beer, and buy the cherry balls with what was left of my snack money. They would be the highlight of the afternoon. I would share the gum and we would compete over who could make the biggest bubble gum balloon. Sometimes it would get so big that when it popped it would cover half of our faces and we would all laugh trying to get the sticky concoction off our faces.


Philippines at Night

Oh my, those were the days. How I miss them so, back when my life was so carefree. But each age has its own advantages as well, I like to think. These days, I am able to meet new friends and share experiences with people halfway across the world. I guess those memories in Caloocan will remain as such, happy memories of my childhood best left in the past and, from time to time, dug out from the recesses of my memory and remembered fondly.

Also check out Growing Up in Manila, Philippines.

Cynthia Sorrera

Cynthia Sorrera

Cynthia is an adventurous spirit who loves to travel, eat and discover new things, her ultimate goal is to travel the world. She loves being a stay at home mom, which allows her to look after her two beautiful children and be a dedicated wife to her loving husband. A writer at heart and by profession for more than 8 years, she writes about her experiences and encounters with various people and events that happen all around her. One day, maybe, she can complete a book of memoirs about all these things.