A Junkyard Tale

Ooh, it makes me wonder. . . – Stairway to heaven


I swung by the neighborhood junkyard the other day to see if there was anything new/old.

Oh yes, I’m a regular junkyard dog. But that’s another story.

I was going through some nuts, bolts, and other metal whatnots when out of the corner of my eye, I see a clear plastic bag full of cassette tapes. Ok, cassette tapes – normal trash for most of us and not worth the change I had in my pocket.

Still it was calling me.

Ooh, it makes me wonder. . .

I didn’t like to skim through the titles right there and then so I went over to my suki and asked how much for the whole bag. Apparently, old cassette tapes are trashman’s trash. She gave it for free and even thanked me for getting it out of her hands!

That night, I went through the tapes out of curiosity – thinking to find a pattern. Was the owner a metal head? An 80’s waver probably? Or was he, just like my kids, into this alternative rock thing. No such pattern emerged. Instead, I found a mix of oldies, soundtracks, pop, rock, religious, etc.

These must be tapes from different members of one family.

Ooh, it makes me wonder. . .


I found myself classifying the artists for each respective member of that   imaginary family.

Hector Mercado, the dad and a casual radio listener during his teens, had a couple of Jim Chappell tapes, JamesTaylor’s Live, and Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits among others. He’d usually open a bottle of beer after dinner and unwind in the living room while Jim Chappell’s   ‘Holiday” would play on the family one-brand rack stereo system.

Elena , his wife, was the hopeless romantic. She had 2 Jim Photoglos and a James Ingram. But her treasured set is a collection of Lettermen compilations probably recorded in Phoenix Records along Kamuning Rd. A happy homemaker, she attended to the family’s needs.

 Jessica, the eldest, was like her mom – another hopeless romantic. She was fond of sentimental soundtracks.  After watching One Fine Day, she rushed to the nearest record bar to get hold of the cassette soundtrack. Back home, she’d dream of George Clooney while listening to “This Guy’s In Love With You” by Harry Connick , Jr.  She did the same after watching Dawson’s Creek and Bye Bye Love. A tape of 3T would also keep her company while cramming for the coming midterm test.

 Junjun was the family rocker. His mom would plead him to tone down the volume whenever he played No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom” during dinner. Hector would just wink at his son as a sign for him to give in to his mother’s pleas. As a middle ground, Junjun would play his Side A tape instead.

Dad would ok it since they’re mostly cover songs he’s familiar with.
Mom would likewise agree since they’re mostly love songs.
Jessica? Well, she has a crush on the band’s lead vocalist.
So Side A it was!

There were a couple of religious/inspirational tapes in the bunch. This must belong to Aunt Lucy. She’s the old maid sister of Hector who stays with the family. More often than not, one would hear strains of Kathy Trocolli coming out of her room. She doesn’t compete to use the family stereo since she has her own boom box-style portable cassette player in her bedroom.

 But how the rest of the Mercado family manages to take turns using the living room stereo is another matter all together.

 Ooh, it makes me wonder. . .

Junjun and Jessica would normally squabble over who gets to use the living room stereo. Would it be Junjun’s The Presidents of the USA or Jessica’s Dawson’s Creek tape. Just to tease, Hector would sometimes join the fray, insisting on playing Kenny Loggin’s Greatest Hits. However, amidst all the discussion, and without the rest noticing, Elena would sneak in one of her Lettermen cassettes and press play.
Discussion done.
Case closed.
Hector and kids would just let out a hearty laugh realizing how they were out- foxed by the happy homemaker as the “Twelfth Of Never” would sing out of the stereo.


Saturday night.
Both kids are out and Aunt Lucy is safely tucked in bed listening to Charlotte Church. Hector is by the stereo having his after dinner beer as Elena steps out of the bedroom to join him. He flips to the other side of the cassette; plays James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” and invites Elena to a dance.
A slow dance.
No words are said as Mr. and Mrs. Mercado both look into each others eyes smiling.
Simple joys.



That was then.

Now, the kids are all done college. Not surprisingly, the family has embraced the digital domain just like most. Hector has an iPod, Elena, a laptop with iTunes. Both Junjun and Jessica have iPhones. Even Aunt Lucy has a new ‘boom box’ that can play digital files.
No more fighting on who gets to use this to listen to that.
The family rack stereo system has long been sold.
So I’m thinking  . . . Hector and Elena – do they still slow dance?



They say, you can tell a person by the trash that he throws.
And with a little imagination, one can learn more about another person by the music he leaves behind.
Imaginary as they are, I thank Hector and Elena for allowing me that brief peek into their imaginary lives by the trash that they ‘bequeathed’ to me.
I do hope they still slowdance.

And when I’m long gone, someone might pick up my iPod in a junkyard.
He’d skim thru the playlists.
He’d skim thru the songs.
What will he think of me?

Ooh, it makes me wonder. . .




 Oh, and by the way, I found this among the discarded tapes.
Kinda frayed but still unused.

Not bad for a junkyard find.



3 Responses to “A Junkyard Tale”
  1. Ross Harper says:

    Is this Pablo Bustamante of Bustamante Press?

    • bb3 says:

      Hi Ross,
      Yup, it’s me.
      Kumusta na?
      Great bumping into each other in cyberspace!
      Regards to the family.

      • Ross Harper says:

        Hi Pablo, I’m amazed how I even managed to find your blog. Apart from turning my laptop on & off, sending out emails…..I still haven’t learned more than the basics. Yes, very nice to “bump” into you & find out we’re both Junk Hunters. 80% of the stuff I have in my farmhouse are from Evangelista, Laong Laang, really filthy tabi tabi junk shops of scrap metal and the rest inherited. I spend most of my time on the farm. Been inviting Pilar to visit. You too anytime, my house your house. You can eat all the organic veggies you want because I don’t always do. Ha Ha
        Thought your furniture designs were really fantastic! Hit me as modern nostalgic esque like.Really enjoyed reading your blog.
        “Crossover” was one of my son’s 1st words. He’s 20 now. I played their songs 1st thing in the morning & nearly entire day. Saddened me it’s changed now.


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