Summer has made its presence felt with warm dawn, hot mornings, and sticky afternoons. But it’s just the start.
My youngest brother asked me what we did during summer school breaks when there weren’t smartphones yet, and Netflix was still unheard of.
So I told him about the summers of my high school. He was just a toddler. I took care of him – the duty of the eldest child. He would watch Spirits every morning without fail. We played it on DVD back then. I would cook rice for lunch, buy ulam at the carinderia, and ask for free soup.
Around four in the afternoon, my two friends and I met outside ~ the neighbors called us ‘mga batang ina.’ We were all the same age, while our kiddies (my brother, friend #1’s brother, and friend #2’s cousin) were also the same age. My brother and friend #2’s cousin have their stroller, while friend #1’s brother didn’t, so he’d share it with my brother. We will walk around the barangay until the next. We’d push the strollers while we chat about nothing, probably, maybe about Dingdong Dantes or the primetime telenovela at the time. We would lose track of time and hurry home before sunset. And on our way home, we’d sniff the aroma of the bbq stall sa kanto as they grilled isaw and hotdogs.
Once I reach home, I’d have to cook rice for dinner, clean my brother and wait for our mom to arrive from the market. Then after dinner and after washing the dishes, I would sit in the garage and play my guitar until my father came with our jeepney.
Once, I drew a cupid, wrote “heartbreaker, ” and told a friend it was for her. Why? I also could not comprehend. On late nights, I would listen to my small red battery-powered radio until the wee hours of the morning.
We had this encyclopedia set, and I often looked at the photo of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It amazed me. I tried to draw it too.
I’d buy pandesal in the mornings and listen to the tune of Corneto bike at midday or the bell of binatog vendor. Some days I had to do the laundry – manually. My hands and feet would turn pale, and my skin would be soft and wrinkly. Sometimes, my hands would have cuts because the detergent was too strong.
My sister said she often found me staring into nothingness. She thought I was deep in thought, but I was just staring blankly, with no thoughts in my head whatsoever. This is a skill, if not a talent ~ to stare into blank space and get lost in nothingness.
We were allowed to do this back in the day, ‘tumunganga.’ Today, people are busy all the time with their smartphones. As if it is a crime to feel bored. Kids don’t have time to be idle because they get instant entertainment whenever, wherever.
Though things are different here, at least in our street, kids are still out and about in the mornings and late in the afternoon. They play hide-and-seek and get on board the parked tricycle (whoever owns that doesn’t matter to them). Chit-chat about senseless things. They play ball, laugh out loud, tease one another, fight, and cry. The kids in our street are always out; maybe, because they are less fortunate, they can’t afford smartphones. But are they really less fortunate than those who have gadgets?
I don’t think so.
I’d love to hear from you!