The stories behind the things we can’t throw away

Art by Rard Almario

When we go through our belongings, how do we decide what to keep and what to throw away? Maybe the things that fall under the latter category  take up too much space or no longer work like they used to. But sometimes, the things we own aren’t always valuable to us for reasons of function or utility. There are stories behind them, and however impractical it might seem to keep them around, we do anyway.

We’ve asked people to tell us the stories of objects, trinkets, baubles and knick knacks they can’t bear to throw away. And through these stories, we recognize these things for what they are — souvenirs of experience.

Truth is, I don’t even use hot sauce. My father and I have an estranged relationship, and this was actually on his 89 Corolla GTS’s keychain. He was a funny guy and my best friend growing up (we played a lot of video games together), but he was a cheater and a drunk. Once, he spent what should have been my tuition fee on a new sound system for his car. I took it from his old place before he left for the States. I have it on my car keys as a reminder to be the man I knew he should have been. —Ninno Rodriguez, musician

I’ve got a plastic tupperware full of soda caps, like the plastic ones. They’re not very old, pretty much worthless. I collected them over a few years because I’d always walk to the Fully Booked in the Fort with my brother every Sunday and he has down syndrome and he loves coke. Every Sunday, I’d let him get a coke from the Ministop by the condo and we’d walk together. I’d keep the cap. He’d throw away the bottle, but I kept the cap. Now I have a lot. —Mark Belardo, filmmaker

I have a small collection of beautiful glass marbles that I got from my grandma when I was a kid. I’d go over and she’d tell me these amazing stories about a princess called Princess Longchat (modeled after me because I didn’t know how to shut up as a kid) and after she’d hide a marble in one of her huge glass jars of rice or pasta or oatmeal and let my grimy child hands sift through them until I found it. She always told me her fairy friends left them for me because they liked me, so I always thought they were precious magical fairy jewels. My Lola has Alzheimer’s now and she hardly remembers me, what more all the stories she used to tell me. I don’t have the heart to throw them away because I guess, to me, they’re a reminder that even if she doesn’t remember, I do. —Alie Unson, community manager

When I was here in Japan for the first time, four years ago, I spent 500 yen on a Todaiji temple lucky charm. It said it would bring me victory. After three years of constant rejections from all places, I wanted to not believe in its promise anymore. But at that very exact moment, many things aligned. Now I always keep it hanging on my wallet, and dangle it out of my jeans pocket to always remind me it isn’t game over. —Nicko Caluya, student

I’ve held on to a “time capsule” my high school classmates and I made back in 2009. It was an exercise from our class retreat — we had to write down our ambitions for the next ten years and our contact information in a piece of paper, then we put it inside a bottle. The idea was that I, as keeper, would organize a reunion by 2019 and we would open it and see how far we’ve come in chasing after our dreams. It’s been eight years and I still have the bottle locked away in my family’s safety box. It’s cheesy, but I look forward to opening in it two years’ time. I’ve definitely strayed a bit from my dream, but I think it’s great to be reminded of what you wanted for yourself when you were younger. —Martin Diegor, art director

My father wasn’t around at all in my life. But he did have a gift for me, completely inappropriate to give a child: a Swiss army knife. Blades, screwdriver, corkscrew, toothpick, saw blade. I’ve been told it’s an original. As a kid, the only use I had for it was carving on the bark of my rambutan tree in the backyard. Now I bring it everywhere. It’s one of the last mementos that I have of my father. I’ve never harbored ill will of him. He missed out on a pair of really good kids: my brother and I. —Renz Torres, writer

I still have my Gameboy SP from when I was a kid, which I got it as a birthday gift when I was around eight, along with my very first game, Pokemon Fire Red. My mom’s best friend gave it to me and to this day I’m really grateful that she was so generous; my mom and I didn’t have much when I was growing up since she was a single parent working a job that didn’t pay much, but she never wanted me to feel like I couldn’t have things, and I’m pretty sure her best friend knew that. —Mandy Cruz, student

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