MAKATI CITY, Philippines - While going through my Facebook news feed yesterday, I saw so many links to the ongoing affair at Barangay Bel-Air, Pasinaya : Bel-Air at 60.  Yes, Bel-Air is now 60 years old!

I went through the links which led me to various blogs telling the story of this weekend's activities at the Bel-Air park.  A fashion show, talent show, plus the usual treats for the kids.  Hardly any of the blogs though delved into describing the early years of Bel-Air.

Thus, here I am having a go at the fond memories I've had in that place.

1) No such thing as a silent night
- There was no such thing as a real silent night in Bel-Air. Even at 1 am there was an eerie hum which pervaded the dead of night. It was the humming of turbines at the Rockwell power plant.

2) The Park was really where the fun was happening -
As a kid growing up in a generation where electronic gadgets were hardly a figment of our imagination, playing meant having to go out and run around, interact with other kids, check out the toys they brought along.   A lot of these happened in the park.  Way back then, the park was much wider.  The only structure then was the clubhouse with a pelota court right next to it and the security office facing Hydra Street.

To date, some of the original play furniture is still there.

3) Pizza Fixes - Before Shakey's Pizza Parlor rolled into the Philippine Islands, Barangay Belair residents got their pizza fix in either of two places. A hole in the wall place in Neptune Street called Birdhouse Pizza, where one would take out the pizza, or at Italian Village along EDSA where Petron is located now.  Di Marks wasn't on Makati Avenue in the early years.

4) Traffic -
Believe it or not, 45 years ago when someone said he was stuck in traffic, he was most likely somewhere at Paseo de Roxas corner Buendia near the guardhouse exit on Paseo, not on EDSA. EDSA, which was not even called EDSA at that time but newly named as Epifanio de los Santos Avenue flowed freely.

5) Pasinaya - Pasinaya was none existent then.  It only came in existence in 1993.  There were summer activities back then which were akin to what would eventually be Pasinaya.  These happened in April and not in May.  Some years it would coincide with Easter Sunday and as such there would be an Easter Egg Hunt.  There was also a time when the April festival theme was Ati-Atihan.  I remember this because my birthday celebration took place in April, and while there was a party in the house, there was always the big party in the park.

There are actually more stories to tell through the long history of Bel-Air.  It even includes the evacuation of the residents because of the Rockwell fire, and a unique kindergarten school called, Massabielle.  Then again we shall save that for another article.

Happy 60 years, Bel-Air!

Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.

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