Category Archives: Backyard memories

anything related with my childhood

warding off mosquitoes

The “sensaryo” or sometimes “sensaryohan” is one of the tools that we regularly make and use when me and my brothers were just little kids in Camiguin Island, Philippines. Every weekend, we hiked up to Manduao, a remote barangay of Catarman, to spend time with our lolo and lola in their nipa hut. The way up wasn’t easy. The trail was bordered by thorny shrubs, big trees, grasses, coconuts, bamboos and banana plants; and hungry mosquitoes, lots of them. Good thing we always carry with us the “sensaryo”. It’s very convenient and handy. By swaying it, sometimes in full rotation just for fun, the smoke envelopes our immediate surrounding, preventing the mosquitoes of coming near us. When the fuel comes low, we can always pick some bits and pieces of dry twigs and coconut husks found along the way.

I really didn’t know why it’s called “sensaryo”. I just imagined it as something much similar to that use in a church ceremony where the priest spread incense smoke inside the church. I found out,  after a few readings that the device used by the priest to spread incense smoke (censing) is called a censer. A censer is a vessel used for burning incense. In different cultures and religious practices, the construction and design of the censer varies. Now I know why it’s called “sensaryo”. It’s the local term for censer. It just happened that I learn of it first as something we used to ward off mosquitoes rather than as the tool used in church for censing.


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Video kill the [AM] radio star

We tried our very best to keep up with the live coverage of Pacquiao vs Margarito fight last Sunday at 12:30 local time. To our dismay up to the very morning of the big day, there wasn’t anybody we know that had a decent coverage; because in Malaysia there’s just none at all.The three of us in the house were really restless, each finding the best live streaming possible. We used two different internet sources and eventually given up. I even answered a couple of darn surveys just to have access of a possibly better live streaming, and spent perhaps 8 RM worth of texts. In the end, we settled for an extremely cursory, lagged, and pixelated not-so-live streaming; connected the HDMI cable to the larger screen and sat on the sofa cursing all the way. Our frustration was however alleviated by the live twitter updates in Yahoo sports and punch-by-punch analysis by Kieran Mulvaney at The result, as I put it, is like a comic book — in frames like story boards, with a corresponding one-liner description. During this time, I was wishing I could just listen to a live radio coverage, such that I could just close my eyes and imagine the events. I tried searching for a radio coverage online, but couldn’t find any. Perhaps they don’t do this anymore.

When we were just kids in the 80’s, basketball and boxing shows can be tuned in with an AM radio coverage. The AM radio provided so much more than news and political interviews. We grew up with the radio soaps that our Inse (aunt) religiously tuned in to while we were forcibly lulled for a non-optional afternoon nap. During the night, we’d huddle around the small plastic radio to listen to an excitingly suspenseful horror show. When me and my brothers were ‘deported’ to Camiguin Island together with our Inse, we had a small pocket-size black radio. The volume was awfully low, we had to practically put the radio into our ears. As I remembered, at 1 pm during weekdays, the show in DYHP Cebu AM station was the “Handumanan sa usa ka awit“. I can still hum the guitar accompaniment of the oftenly dramatic story of somebody read by the radio host in an extremely poetic manner. You can actually get carried away by his delivery and find yourself suddenly sobbing. On another time slot in the same afternoon, a show  (“Kini ang akong suliran“) hosted by a woman who’s a doctor and at the same time a lawyer:  Dra. Atty. Libres-Rosaroso, who gives legal and medical advice to answer various cases sent by her avid listeners. There was also this action-drama radio show of two brothers caught in a war and a love-triangle. Whenever I hear the theme song (“He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother” by The Hollies), memories of my childhood in Camiguin overwhelms me with nostalgia.

our pocket-size radio looks like this one

Our most-awaited show probably was the action-adventure superhero show — “Ramini: Ang batang bronse” and the fairy tale story of “Mutya sa saging minantikaan“. Ramini’s time slot if I remember it right was between 8-9 am. It was during this time that we are hiking our way up from Looc to Manduao — to our Lolo Balolo’s nipa hut. We walked close to each other even at narrow muddy trails because of the apparent low volume of a pocket-size transistor radio. By the time we reached Manduao, we were already shouting Ramini’s ‘power’ call “RAMINI!”. . .  or “ISTOY!” for the ‘un-power’ call, much like “Narda!” of Darna… And then, this would be  usually followed by a commercial of Vino Kulafu – “makapabaskug makapabaskug sa kalawasan“… The “Mutya sa Saging Minantikan” is a story about Maria, a sweet and lowly girl who sells skewered fried bananas and draws special powers from  a magical amulet acquired from a banana inflorescence (heart). Other memorable shows were Tiban and Goliat of “Si Got da Wanderpol” and the boy with a magical flying/swimming horse for a twin. My most dreaded was the 6 pm horror show opened with the sound of howling dogs — I forgot the title but I’ll never forget the monsters “tabugok” that shows up during night time. I actually get nightmares from this show when I was a child.

Growing up during those times was really a different experience. You are only limited by your imagination. I’m sure my version of Ramini was different from that of my brothers’. With today’s technologies, children are habituated into a world fed by computer games and the internet. I can only wish that my niece, nephews, and cousins can experience the same freedom that we had.

{Photos from}


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Recall: simple life of an 80’s child

I remembered when asked to tell a story of my childhood in a ValuesEd class in high school with Ms. Ferarren, a classmate of mine commented that it was like in Tom Sawyer’s – my story. Truly, my childhood escapades were quite comparable to that of Tom Sawyer’s adventurous and truant undertakings. Growing in a barangay of a small town and in a small island, I had all the opportunity to explore and discover, and to engage in quite hazardous child’s play. In contrast, back to the high school ValuesEd class, my close friend’s childhood was quite confined to the limits of the four corners of a concrete wall that normally surrounds a house in the city. She practically grew up with hundreds of books and toys – almost all kind of toys. Me and my sibs grew up with a simple life, very seldom do we have a plastic toy. However, the beauty of a simple life is that as a child, the world is your toy. You observe, discover and create. My brothers were quite craftsmen and inventors, me I watch and imitate, and frequently almost have my fingers cut. My sister was already a young lady during that time and had different interests.

From these childhood memories that I so treasure, I am inspired to write down those memories in this blog. Specifically, I would feature the games that we played, the toys we invented, and any contraptions and accoutrement made of indigenous materials that we played with. I wish to represent them as much as possible in the best way with my own sketches. I would have loved to do them in Visio or some other neat drawings but I really got none of those now. So as a starter, here’s a sample of a  rough sketch. This will be featured on its own sometime.


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Taking notes at a NatGeo program?

Having been immersed in science ever since I learned how to read – grew up with Grolier’s encyclopedia, went to a science high school and pursued an undergraduate and masters field in science – pretty much, I am a huge science buff. Thus follows my extreme fascination with The National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel. I could watch these shows for an entire day and still not having enough of it. Dang, I even actually took notes a couple of times! Yep, if I were Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s student, he would be very satisfied, would even give me a star. 🙂

Below is an example of a NatGeo topic I noted, and later made into an assignment. Good thing my housemate is an extremely quick and intelligent geek, he never failed to answer and even illustrate my inquiries in an instant, in a very scholarly manner, just like a professor.

I got so fascinated and amazed with Sea Launch, an extremely high-tec platform in the middle of the Pacific for launching satellites such as DirectTV, PanAmSat, and some satellite phone providers.

Here’s an instant illustrated lecture of my housemate when asked about the distance in which for example a boat would drop from a line of sight or horizon. This is in relation to the topic above regarding satellite orbiting the earth; and  the distance in which the earth curves to a certain degree.

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Houses I Live/d.

Houses I Live/d.

As soon as I inserted the picture above, it came to my senses that I totally missed out the houses where I spent most of my unforgettable childhood memories – our tiny house in Barangay 1 – built by our Papang, the Bahay Kubo in Manduao built by Balolo, and the house of Lolo Dodoy and Lola Minang where we (3 children)  sent to board in Looc, Catarman.  In my twenty-something years of life, these are the “houses” (also include dorms) that sheltered my existence; where I played as a child, grew as a teenager, and learned to live on my own as an adult. I wonder how many could there be more in the future, I hope not a lot.




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