Just as the Twenties Will Start Roaring Again
Note: This was written exactly a year ago.
My fascination towards the old, historic, and ancient began manifesting when I was in first grade.
Perhaps having a history teacher coach for a grandmother greatly influenced this part of my childhood. Nanay eventually became my own coach at home whenever I compete in quiz bees, especially in Sibika at Kultura and HeKaSi—which are now collectively known as Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies).
It was one day in March 1999 when the first manifestation happened. We were on our way home from the City of San Fernando after having received silver medal for the Sibika at Kultura Division Quizbee, when we passed by this exquisite antique mansion in Guagua. I stared in awe at the old building. It was love at first sight. I was six.
That encounter with the mansion triggered my fantasies of being a woman in a Maria Clara attire. Which actually happened in third grade. Soon enough, I started fancying Spanish names. I loved how the names Consuelo, Rosario, and Margarita sounded—names that the current generation find, “mabantot”, “baduy” and “pang-lola”.
This fascination would not go full blast, however, until I was already in college. In 2010, my craze with classic films kicked off. By that time, Facebook was starting to be a thing in the Philippines and it has become my outlet for this growing addiction. Through several Facebook pages, I was also starting to meet fellow fans, most of them around the same age as my parents as well as grandparents.
Not once would I encounter remarks from them such as "You’re so young but a fan of the oldies." In Kapampangan, people would refer to my case as being a "matwa sapuk". Some would even say, "Maybe you’re a reincarnation of the actress/es you idolize." And so on.
Imagine, the possibility of having been actually reincarnated from the Filipino superstar Carmen Rosales. She happened to have passed away seven months before I was born. I could only giggle at the thought.
When I was in second grade or so, I suddenly had the desire to curl my hair and have my eyelashes longer.
I even dragged my sister along just to experiment with improvised curls using pieces of paper and clothes pins.
Mascara wasn't available in our household back then. Out of nowhere, I thought of using petroleum jelly for my eyelashes.
Even the adult me finds it weird that my child self could come up with such an idea.
Fast forward to my 20s. I continue to explore further about the past, including the popular looks during the previous decades.
The Internet serves as my makeshift time machine towards many other discoveries. In one YouTube tutorial for 1920s makeup, the vlogger explained that women back then used petroleum jelly with soot/charcoal to darken and thicken their eyelashes. AKA, pre-mascara era.
And then I remembered how I used petroleum jelly for my eyelashes back in second grade.
Because of that, the reincarnation remarks from people also barged in my memory.
The concept of reincarnation is nothing new to me since I had been learning about it since grade school. But still, I was dumbfounded. I think I just unearthed a valid reason to find that petroleum jelly idea even weirder.
By the way, Carmen Rosales was born in 1917. She was already around during the 1920s. Just a thought... Unless?
- Carmen Rosales as Gerilyera. Philippines Free Press, October 12, 1946. From the digital collection of John Tewell
- Just another attempt at making my own vintage portrait