Unless one is inside an air-conditioned room, one will not survive for more than 30 minutes the heat of a Manilan noon. Notwithstanding the torrential afternoon downpour because of the monsoon, the temperature on an ordinary day in the Philippine capital is still extraordinarily high. To alleviate the discomfort I often find myself crossing EDSA to Robinsons Pioneer just to buy ice cream, and this has become a routine of daily frequency.
It did not take long before I noticed something odd about this entire practice of eating an ice cream on a cone. Although I eat the cone together with the ice cream, I unconsciously leave the tip of the cone behind and discard it no matter what kind of edible cone the ice cream is placed, even those special cones with luscious and decadent chocolates that are meant to be saved for last. I either throw them away or crumple them until they crumble into powdery non-entities.
I could not to find a logical explanation for this until I remember a memory of a distant past while I was paying for a watermelon shake I bought in front of an ice cream stand.
When I was around five years old I had this classmate named Raul whose only memory I have of him are pictures of watermelon wedges printed on his shirt. It was recess then, between 10-11 o’clock in the morning in a small public kindergarten we both used to attend. Those five-year old students, me included, who went to school unaccompanied by an adult were falling in line for our turn to buy ice cream placed inside a wooden cart; these horrifying, multi-colored ice creams were being sold on cheap cones by a grimy and grease-drenched old man. Some of our classmates who went to school everyday with their mothers or nannies looked at us with envy.
Raul, who was with his aunt, was eating a sandwich that time. He approached me, and in his shirt with watermelon wedges prints told me, “Kamao ka kung unsang paagi nila ginabuhat kanang apa sa imohang ice cream?” (Do you have any idea how they make the cone of that ice cream you are holding?”
Interested with the answer, but more intrigued, I asked Raul how. We were both five years old then but he was more like an adult.
“Tan-awa ha, kanang luyo sa apa,” (Look at the tip of the cone) then he demonstrated it to me, “ilahang ginahulma paagi sa ilong anang gabaligya” (they form it using the two holes of that vendor’s nose as mold).
I did not know what happened, but the following week, out teacher then announced to the class that Raul was moving to a new kindergarten in the city. I have not heard about him since then, but that conversation about the tip of an ice cream cone 18 years ago got stuck in my psyche that I am still repulsed whenever I see people eating the tip of a cone.