Monday, March 15, 2010

My childhood summers

On my way out of the house this morning I saw my brother hunched in front of a computer playing online games at 8 am. It's a surprising sight that I have to get used to. Obviously I'm a little bit jealous of his summer vacation. I went up to him and asked him his plans for the next two months before he officially steps into High School. I was a bit surprised with his answer though. He said he just wanted to relax and play with his computer. Apparently there was no need to elaborate. I was waiting for something else, but all I got was silence.

I ended up comparing my childhood summers to his and noted the glaring differences. Our gap is more than a decade but it seems I existed in a totally different era, an era he wouldn't appreciate or understand. Back then, in my grade school years, summer was the time to be out on the streets with neighbors. At 3 pm, I would go to my friends' houses on our street and rouse them from their naps. We would go from house to house eating merienda, watching Laser discs and just when the sun becomes kinder, we'd go out in the streets to play street games such as piko, langit lupa and cops and robbers. At those times, mountain bikes were so popular that everyone of us had our own. It was the must-have Ferrari's of kids. We would roam around the village and visit other friends' houses. We'd eventually get dirty and get bruised sometimes, but early on we exercised strategies and we developed a certain understanding of democracy. Also, during those summers of the Ramos administration, we'd have brownouts from night till dawn. The streets were safer then and our parents would let us play at a dark street while sporting our rechargeable lamps with radios. Everyday it had always been like that, but we would never tire.

Now, kids don't go out in the streets anymore. My brother doesn't even know our neighbors. Everything's gone online and practically the kids' thinking these days are so modern and jaded. Guitar lessons or any kinds of summer lessons are easily brushed off. Kids these days have become more materialistic. A decade ago, it was totally different.

When I was also a kid, I would accompany my aunt in FTI where I would spend the whole day in her office day dreaming. I'd talk to engineers working there and buy bread and softdrinks for merienda. I could imagine it was essentially boring, but in those days I was having the time of my life. I would never think of staying at home and play Mario Brothers. That was reserved for bedtime.

As I briefly shared these with my brother, he looked at me perplexed. He could never understand how I find those times fun and meaningful. As far as he is concerned, having a kick-ass internet connection, gadgets and 24/7 access to cable TV are enough to create for a smashing summer. I smiled and realized that he has no idea.

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