“Throwback Thursdays” have been a recent craze among netizens on social media. Coined as a weekly post theme online, it’s interesting to see photos of friends from their childhood and youth in the ‘70s. I’m pretty certain that many are embarrassed at these pictures of awkward years when one still had bucked teeth, wafer-thin arms and legs, sideburns, or even bellbottom jeans.
Remember when bookstores were called Alemar’s or Corona? When authentic Chinese food was only found in panciterias in Binondo? And when movies were best seen at the Rizal Theater?
Kids today will never understand what a “partyline” is, and what a hassle it was to share a phone line with your next door neighbor. Back then, it was even romantic to hear of couples who ended up together because they were partylines.
Remember too those days when there were only apartments, not townhouses nor condos, and when everyone in school wore Gregg’s and Ang Tibay shoes?
Back then, if you were classy, you wore Charlie, Jontue or Paco Rabanne to smell like a million bucks. If you even know Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner as Bionic Man and Bionic Woman, then you were a child of the ‘70s too. At that time, the staples of primetime television were all wholesome shows, the most famous of which was Dolphy and Nida Blanca’s John and Marsha.
In the ‘70s, we loved to sing the jingle ad about Unimart, which had a line that went: “Unimart, Unimart hey! Twenty miles away!” Imagine, that this grocery used to lie in the middle of uninhabited Greenhills! Unimart then was a weekend treat for many families, almost as iconic as the Mall of Asia now, as it was the only modern structure in San Juan.
The other shopping mecca then was Cubao, with COD and Mari-kina Shoe Expo as the place to shop for trendy fashionable ensembles. Back then, SM was known as “Shoemart” where ladies in dark blue uniforms relentlessly used hand signals to call for hundreds of shoe sizes and styles, while another lady called out for these over microphones.
Another thing long gone are doctor’s house calls. As a little girl, I used to accompany my father during house calls to some of his invalid patients—often frail seniors who preferred to live their last years peacefully in their homes. These days, doctor’s house calls seem like a notion only those from Downton Abbey ever knew.
When we craved for Italian cuisine in the ‘70s, we only knew one place and that was Italian Village on Quezon Boulevard. With its dark wooden panels, brick accents, and tavern ambience, Italian Village was an extraordinary family-style bistro that served really sumptuous pastas and pizzas. From behind glass windows, children could watch the chefs twirling pizza dough and laying these into a huge brick oven. Italian Village itself then was a sprawling garden complete with water fountains and marble statues, cobbled brick pavements, and arched entrances almost reminiscent of a palazzo.
It’s remarkable though that some of our most cherished establishments did last decades since. Fortunately, we still find our long-trusted favorite places to dine in or visit still around—like Max’s Fried Chicken, Kimpura, Peking Garden, Unimart, Milky Way, and Dulcinea. Back in those days when there were no coffee places to hang out, teenagers stayed in each other’s homes, or at best spent afternoons at Magnolia House for ice cream.
I guess there’s something oddly comforting about being in a place or tasting comfort food that you’ve grown up with. Without gadgets and gizmos, we spent our time playing outdoors, running in muddy gardens, and amusing ourselves by reading the encyclopedia. In those days, it was easy to appreciate the joys of simple pleasures—banana splits, letters in the mail, scrapbooking photos.
Maybe, Throwback Thursdays bring a growing nostalgia for the things of the past—its timeless values and its little distractions, and of a time when life was seemingly less complicated.