Dear Santo Niño Street

But what once felt like a mile-long river to my short, 7-year-old legs is now just another crack in the sidewalk to step over.

By Jade Sayson

In 1985 you were home to my mother. A little over a decade ago, I had the privilege of visiting you for the first time. 

When I first met you all I knew was to save every piso I could get my hands on and hide them in my pocket. That way, I could splurge it all on strawberry marshmallows at the “tindahan” on the other side of the road.

Your drainage canals were my worst fear. It’s not your fault the Philippines doesn’t have the best sewage system, but that didn’t stop me from wondering what would happen if my Hello Kitty necklace got swallowed by your murky waters. How deep would it go? Would I ever see it again?

But what once felt like a mile-long river to my short, 7-year-old legs is now just another crack in the sidewalk to step over.

My second fear was the ghost in Tito Renee’s house, the second floor abandoned ever since Tita Lolit went abroad. Maisey and I would play with Jim and Jared despite the rumors, being extra careful to avoid the dark corners. 

To this day, no one dares to go upstairs, but my aunt says everything was left exactly as it was—dresser drawers open, beds unmade in a rush to make it to the airport the morning of the flight.

Mom never let me go past the tindahan by myself because she’d say “we’re in a different country.” It’s funny how one can be afraid of a place that was once so familiar.

I’ll never forget the first time I rode one of your tricycles. I’d convinced myself this was the fastest I’d ever moved and found amusement in the fact that I was so close to the ground. The streets were so narrow it was easy to make eye contact with someone walking by. I passed a group of girls my age in matching uniforms. I wanted to be their friend.

They say this street is sacred and has been left unscathed by every earthquake in Laguna. Not San Vicente or Rizal Street, but Sto. Niño only.