Monday, October 4, 2010

Old Entry #5: Memories From 2 Through 11 Years

I need to cover that rant below.  It's not pleasant to be greeted with that kind of ill writing when you open a blog.

It's been a while since I last posted an old entry so I think it's about time for another one.

This was originally posted on Jul 9, '08 12:40 AM on


2-3 years of age:

Oh I really have much to tell about my life 16 years ago. Unlike most people who credit most of what they know regarding that certain period in their lives to stories told by old nursemaids, parents, family members and some other people rather than actual fruits of first hand reminiscence, I really do remember a lot. Well, there are a number of blurred images in my head and a few fragmented “mind movies” but most are as crisp and clear as ripe Japanese apples. Let me share one of them to give you a hint of what I mean

I was two back then. I could remember that it was some weeks after Christmas. My mom’s best friend, who was in the US at that time, sent me a late birthday/Christmas present: a blue Teddy bear. My mom gave it to me in secret and told me not to play with it outside my room. I really did not find it reasonable and I wanted to brag about it to everyone so I ignored her advice. While getting ready to leave for my grandma’s old palazzo, I discreetly slipped it in my backpack and brought it with me there. There, I took it out and played with it (by myself since there weren’t any other children at the time). I hugged it and talked to it as if it were another child my age. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that. [I still don’t] Suddenly, I heard the unmistakable shriek of my grandmother who was halfway down the stairs sporting a purple bathrobe—the very same screech quality I heard a month prior to that when I broke her antique Chinese porcelain platter (from way back in the Ming Dynasty). She was so shocked by what she had seen that one of hear hair curlers fell off her head. On the other hand, not knowing what that was all about, I very naively asked her what was wrong. By that time, the maids were already there gasping for their breaths after a haste of a run from the kitchen to the staircase just to save her from whatever catastrophe there might have been. I could tell how frightened they were since I was certain I heard a loud clatter—obviously of breaking dishes that fell on the kitchen floor. And then, very annoyingly, she began making mock hand mannerisms and voice impersonations of stereotypical all-out transvestite male homosexuals while telling me that I shouldn’t be playing with “dolls” since that was a thing for sissy little girls. I reasoned out that it wasn’t a doll and that it was, in fact, a stuffed bear but her mind just wouldn’t budge out of her traditional “boys-is-to-guns-as-girls-is-to-dolls” mentality. And the story goes on. She told my grandpa; my grandpa bought me three very realistic toy guns (which my parents immediately threw away); she tattled to my parents; my parents, in turn, scolded me for having violated their advice not to take the stuffed bear outside my room; and so on.

3-7 years of age:

One clear recollection I have that falls on this age range was when I was five. I was in preschool back then—kindergarten one. I was enrolled in a Catholic school run by religious sisters. [They technically weren’t nuns. Nuns are the female versions of monks and yet every woman wearing a veil and taking a vow of celibacy is referred to as such—a very common and utterly obtuse misconception.] They called the school a “Montessori” simply to have parents enroll their children there with the outlook that they were applying Maria Montessori’s principles of child education. If Montessori’s book simply said “put a playground in your structure, put some toys in the classroom and treat the children how you would treat every other cadet in the nearest military training facility then they were absolutely doing it right! [You know what I mean!]

So, anyway, back to the story. Every Monday, they would ask us to raise our hands had we attended the mass the day before. I was very honest then so I kept my hand down. And each time, they would spot the absence of any of my hands in the air and brand me with grown-up terms I really did not understand then—words such as slothful, indolent, apathetic, etc. But I never really bothered asking my parents what they meant. Eventually, because of my having-no-hands-in-the-air’s incessant recurrence, they branded me “lazy boy”. And I really did not like that so I urged my parents to attend mass on Sundays. That was not impossible for them to do, though. We did go a couple of times or so, but we eventually regressed to what we were used to doing. And at such an early age, they knew I would not have understood if they had explained it to me the way they viewed it so, for my sake, they devised a simple solution. They would have the maid take me to a church or a chapel for as long as I wanted and have me taken back home upon my whim. That way, I would be able to proudly raise my hand on the day that followed. Yes, such routine was eventually halted. The funny thing is that I actually thought negatively of such cultural divergence.

7-11 years of age:

I was a singer before my voice got dull and before I abandoned all thoughts about regaining the ability to sing. Oh how I could reach the highest of notes there were. How I would replay Lea Salonga’s Miss Saigon VHS tape and sing along. In fact, it was actually the first full-length feature I saw on TV. I was only allowed to watch the little box with moving pictures when I was 7 and my parents thought it was something good to start with. Before that, they made the good decision of spoiling me with traveling excursions rather than leaving me at home to watch TV and make it my teacher. They thought it was dangerous that I be exposed to the stuff the maids were usually watching: Tagalog soaps, Tagalog shoot-out films, Snoggly and erotic Tagalog movies, and Japanese cartoons dubbed in Tagalog. Well, they actually did the right thing.

Anyway, let’s go back to the flashback I’m supposed to be talking about. On New Year’s Day of the year 2000, after the strike of midnight, a huge celebration was held at one of the Hills of the world famous Chocolate Hills. One celebration with an international audience where there were people of different skin colors and eye sizes. Very notably, before me came the intensely applauded rendition of “Les Miserables’s On My Own” by Da Maris (a soprano with an awesome voice whose last name I forgot). Then came my turn. I was nervous as hell! It was my first time to sing in front of audience that had more than three foreigners in it. I sang “The Greatest Love of All.” I was so nervous that I nearly failed to belt a note. I’m glad I didn’t, though. After that, I was so proud of myself when it seemed to me that everyone was bowled over by the song. Almost everyone stood up. Although I don’t think it was because I was really that good. More likely, it was because I was very young. After me came the world renowned Loboc Children’s Choir who got practically the same reception I did. [Whoah!] And to top the entire New Year’s experience off, I took part in planting the “Peace Pole” on top of the hill. That was just an awesome experience.