Friday, October 12, 2007

G.I. Joe

About a short distance from where we live now is a house which always makes me look up to it whenever I pass by the vicinity even until now. It was my aunt's abode, she was my father's sister. She was one of three relatives who lived separately from the compound where her whole family had grown up and in fact built their own homes when they married and had their families. But she could live independently really easily as she had a high-paying job plus her husband worked in the US navy. Although they were not really high-society (but then very few in my city can be labelled as such during that time) they were very well-off in my opinion and in the standards of the normal Filipino family. The house was well-maintained during the time they lived there. A fresh coat of paint and all necessary renovations took place every year plus all the amenities in their household so they could really be distinguished as a bit well-positioned financially. The place is now inhabited by people I don't know as it has been rented out many years ago when my cousins moved out to live in the neighboring city.

This place was a symbol of childhood Disneyland for me. My uncle who was master of the house was seldom seen in that house but his presence and "love" for his three sons was evidenced by the gifts he sent or brought home with him whenever he was on a short vacation from his highly mobile job. There would be Nintendo games, remote powered cars, neon-lit swords which glew in the dark, action super-hero miniatures and so many trinkets and gadgets that any four year old can only dream of. I envied my cousins and surprisingly they were very generous in sharing their blessings.

They would invite us to come over during the weekends and play all day long. I had no idea about parent to parent relations during that time but there always seemed to be a smooth arrangement that their house was open to all of us who wanted to play. And boy did we play a lot there! They used to have these tall guava trees which we would climb up to and we became warriors, prisoners, pirates, adventurers, dwarves and magicians as we scampered up the branches. We became more invulnerable the higher we climbed and the faster we ran in our childhood fantasies. As the day wore on, more and more games would be played and more and more glasses of Coke would be consumed. If we were not playing outdoors we were immersed in the Super Mario or Battle Tank or Tetris and many other computer games inside their home.

Of course there were never picture-perfect moments as the narration seemed to give u that impression. The three brothers were engrossed sometimes in insane and very physical arguments. Punches would be exchanged and some toys would be crushed. This was bound to happen especially with three feisty, volatile and young male egos in the household. Plus I also had the impression that they were very spoiled.

The only sad outcome to having so much during their childhood was that in areas like studying and school, they limped slightly. One of them failed one year in our elementary years and the word spread like wild fire. Education and good standing in school was a priority among the whole clan. It was a shame but the family was willing to move on and rehabilitate it. The youngest trudged through school with barely remarkable grades although the eldest was an exception. He did very well, was extremely creative and was a genius in Science, a true Macgyver among us mortals.

Sometimes the endowment of childhood luxuries at an early age is a bit bad if it is left unchecked and unmonitored. There should always be a balance. I am not saying that deprivation is also good. I mean look at me. I never had those comforts early in life until public computers proliferated the whole city which is why I still have bouts of addiction to Super Mario, Literati and Text Twist even up to now. That is not very healthy I think but I believe if i were to have a choice I would not want to have the luxury of accessibility to childhood games if it was an option that was feasible.

I have nothing negative to say about my cousins. I do love them and I wish them well. I have always tried to get news of their whereabouts but the details are sketchy. They have lived separately I think and it is sad that I have not seen them in many years. I will always be grateful to that wonderful Disneyland they opened to us whenever we needed to get away from life's harsh realities of notebooks, homeworks, and sleepless exam reviews with Mom. They may have been spoiled but they were NEVER discriminating, greedy, selfish and possessive. They were so willing to share the comforts they had early in life and were happy to do so.

To the three J's (as their names all began with J) I miss you and wish you all well in your stations in life. I hope I can still catch up with you in the near future....


Anonymous said...

Liisa, I have to say your blog is indeed interesting. It just goes to show that money doesn't not buy everything and to taste a little salt in youth does no harm.
Shaun O'Connor

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