I remember being faintly shocked when my friend, Mary Baldemor, who lived with an elderly aunt, told me that whenever she looked out the window, her aunt would yell, "Hoy, palaging nakapamintana - naghahanap ka baga ng lalaki?" (Hey you, always looking out the window - are you looking for a man?) We were both in high school at that time and I was disturbed to see that Mary was merely amused at such a reprimand.

Maybe a year later, I found out for myself how absolutely wrong it was for a girl to be interested in boys. A boy from Maryknoll Fathers' high school in Pakil, Ceferino Afuang, dropped in for a visit. It was early Sunday afternoon, (courtship visits were done in the evening), so there was nothing to this one.

Efren was really just a friend from Pangil. He had visited some relatives in Paete that day, and so he thought he'd drop by and see me as well. It was such a pleasant surprise, I gladly welcomed him and we chatted.

My aunt (I had one of those, too), Inang Bita hit the roof! She said that I must never, never appear too happy to see a boy, even if he was "just a friend." It pained me to learn that even boys whom I grew up with, or went to school with, must now be treated like strangers.

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