Memories of The Crazy Ones

Gosh, The Pea is six now. She's old enough to have memories. She constantly amazes us with her recollection of things that happend two or three years ago. But more significantly, her experiences now are going to be memories that she will retain throughout adulthood. I myself have lots of memories from when I was six. Good memories (like going to Disneyland for the very first time) and not-so-good memories (like getting locked in a bathroom). And memories which I used to think were good, but now I guess were not so good.

Take my memory of The Bu-Angs. Each summer between the ages of about six through twelve, we spent a couple of weeks in my father's hometown, Roxas City. Now Roxas City (or Capiz, as it used to known) is a place known throughout the Philippines as a haven for aswangs (vampires). My sister and my cousins and I certainly did our best to find these aswangs there, but unfortunately didn't meet any. Our consolation prize every year was our encounters with two colorful characters, known as Maria Bu-ang and Norma Bu-ang (Crazy Maria and Crazy Norma).

Maria Bu-ang was a crazy old beggarwoman who would go from house to house, begging and babbling. Whenever she came to my aunt's house, we would always talk to her because her answers, so bizarre and so unrelated to our questions, were always guaranteed to get us giggling.

Norma Bu-ang was even more interesting. She lived in a little hut not far from my cousins, and we would hide and spy on her as she went about. She spent her time holding a baby doll, singing to it loudly as she danced around and around. Rumor was that she had lost her own baby many years back, my cousins whispered, and that had broken her heart and mind. Every time we spied on her, we would point and whisper and giggle nervously at her antics. We were always scared that she would spot us and attack us -- which of course made it all the more thrilling.

I know we were just kids, and we never actually tormented them, but those fun memories and now tainted by guilt about how we we made fun of them. Obviously they needed help, and they probably couldn't afford medical treatment. Like Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird, they were people too, and deserved compassion and kindness more than fear and ridicule. Gosh, I wish I had been more like Scout Finch!

For more eccentric characters, click here.


Anonymous said...

This is a very poignant, touching post about childhood. It shows the limitations in knowledge we have as children -- you didn't know you were being mean then.

Life looks so different when we look back on it. You can always be more like Scout Finch going forward.

Regina said...

A very touching story today, Bongga Mom- I think we all can say growing up there was someone in our town that intrigued us with their behavior, but yes, being so young, we didn't really know how much help they needed. Those are good reminders for us today...

Kamsin said...

I guess kids just do what comes naturally to them, they don't have quite the same intentions to be mean as adults, who ought to know better, do.
Thanks for sharing your memories.

strauss said...

Thanks for sharing that. It was a touching story about that woman with the baby doll -quite heart breaking. There was an old guy in our town like that. He was a crotchety old so and so, who would go to all the RSL do and Rotary club dos and stuff his pockets with all the buffet food before walking out. Rumour has it that he was a doctor who had a breakdown after his infant son died.

Gill said...

Your post is very touching and written with such sensitivity

Anonymous said...

Hi Bongga,
Neat post.
I'm imagining you, your sister and cousins all out on a vampire hunt.
There was a lady like Norma in my neighborhood. When she got old she carried a doll around because of a baby she lost many years before.
That dolly made her happy too.
Take care,

Heart of Rachel said...

My parents are both from Roxas City. I went there several times on vacation when I was younger. My my cousins from there would come up with different aswang stories but we have never encountered one. It's been ages since my last vacation in Roxas but I will always have fond memories.