One lazy morning in the early 80’s, I was tugged along by my grandmother to the Baguio City Public Market, I remember walking too slow to keep up, bumping into people and trying to dodge mud puddles. The market was a magically chaotic place for me then with many adventures and
misadventures which I remember like it was yesterday, the memories are so vivid that I can even remember what the market smelled like then.

As we were navigating the alleys which my grandmother was so used to, I remember everything sort of going into slow-motion, me trying to keep up while holding on tight to my granny’s hand, trying to avoid mud puddles and missing a step, allowing me to drop into an open manhole. The manhole of the story is at the area of the lechon (roasted pig) section, before that place is the area where basins of water are scattered to house catfish, which I am deathly afraid of, so I am sure I
tried to dodge those too.

I remember falling and losing the grip of granny’s hand and of course the screams of concern of the crowd, the manhole was not deep, nor was it filled with gripe and mud like the ones I saw in cartoons, a kind man, lifted me up to the pavement to the relief of everyone. I don’t necessarily
remember how we got home, but am sure I was subjected to deep cleaning, in our house there was
a huge yellow plastic bathtub shaped pail that could fit me easily, I assumed I was put in there and given the trusty blue bar of neko soap we had in the house, it was the only soap my granny would buy, maybe until the time it was phased out.

The manhole is still there, of course covered and safe now shielding children who came after me the embarrassment and the trauma of plummeting into its abyss. Whenever I pass by it, I remember my childhood and how a this manhole would haunt me, more than the scary catfish. The manhole mishap obviously happened when I was old enough to walk, but I remember a similarly amusing
and scary incident, still at the public market when I was so small, I had to be carried. I remember looking down at the many treats and sights we passed as I peeked into the wares of many vendors, staring at the fruits, sometimes sellers giving us samples of their products to taste.

I vividly remember the sight of small chiles exciting me, these were so small and colorful that I distinctly recall getting a few pieces from each vendor when I got the chance, this is when my granny would stop and buy something and the adjoining stall had chilies, or I would just reach out and grab a few pieces as we passed stores, quickly my small, balmy hands became full of small chilies. And you know what happened next, I guess… the chilies became so hot ibn my hands and started to burn, I cried and cried to the shock of my unknowing grandmother, I was hoarding chilies.

We went to the nearest pharmacy and she quickly called an uncle who was doctor to ask what first aid was to be given, apparently, there was none and remember being given am ice cold bottle of sprite… to hold and relieve my burning hands of the heat of the chilies. I remember an exasperated
lecture to never get things that we didn’t buy and never hold chilies in my hands ever again, I adhere to this sermon to this day. My granny passed on years ago and the market just got burned, with the suspicion of foul play and the feared anticipation of an impending deal, a generation my not have adventures and misadventures like I did.

Amianan Balita Ngayon