Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pampered, part 3

I feel I should continue the Pampered series because I wrote to be continued even with the maybe in my last entry. So here's the last part.

Young and restless

My childhood was a blast. The campus we lived in gave me a wide playground which included lots of open spaces, people's yards, university buildings, public structures, and so on. We kids played outdoors most of the time. Tumbang preso. Sipa. Piko. Taguan. Agawan base. Holen. Goma. Tex. Siyato. And a host of other games now considered ancient or already non-existent.

We climbed trees and rooftops. We jumped from branches and porches. We crawled under our homes looking for coins and other items that had dropped between the wooden floors. This was one of my favourite things to do with my friends. We lived in barracks type homes, each one divided into three units for three families. The crawl space was probably a meter high, and we went from one end to the other.

We crawled on our bellies inside pitch dark underground steel culverts that served as water drains. We were unafraid that there might be snakes hiding inside, or that we might get stuck in the middle because the drain was narrow. We walked and did stunts on railings pretending to be gymnasts. We bathed in the rain and played in water puddles after a storm.

We scoured the surroundings for "trashures". We turned bottle caps and empty cigarette packs into currency that we pay each other for certain games. We assigned them values and everyone abided by it.

In those days, there were still a lot of fruit trees in the neighbourhood. We never hesitated to ask permission to climb someone's caimito or guava or tamarind or aratilis tree. I was not scared to go high up until I fell from a caimito tree.

We went in and out of neighbours' homes to play, watch TV, have a drink or just chat with friends and their parents. Everyone knew everyone.

During moonlit nights, we played hide-and-seek. We ran around and screamed and nobody complained. We were children.

Those were fun years.


But though I experienced a lot of freedom to roam and play, my parents set limits. I thought I was more sheltered than some of my friends. I had to be home at a certain time. I could only go so far and I always had to ask permission to go anywhere. I couldn't just slip quietly out of the house. They refused to get me a two-wheel bike no matter how much I begged. "Baka maging mitsa pa ng buhay mo." (That might cause your fatal accident).

I was not allowed to sleep over except with relatives, nor join Girl Scout camping. I often had to plead to be allowed to go to excursions. I liked excursions and field trips, so I often had to struggle to join one. My father signed those slips reluctantly, always complaining about permission slips that contained a waiver on school liability.

My father used to call me with a certain kind of whistle. He would stand on our front porch or balconaje and make this loud whistle. Hooooot! When he did that, I had to leave what I was doing and run home. Everyone in the neighbourhood recognized. "Uy, tawag ka ng tatay mo." (Hey, you're father is calling you.) I had to go home quickly or be scolded.

Striking a balance

It is probably because of this background that I developed a taste for adventure and the outdoors and play. On the other hand, I am also one for boundaries and rules and permissions. I feel safe within those parameters.

Even when I was already in my 20s and still living with my parents as a single person, I still needed to let them know my whereabouts. I called if I was going to be late. I called from out of town when I was on a field assignment.

Even if at that time I was already working and could go out with friends, sometimes for days, I still felt the need to let my parents know beforehand as if to get their approval. If I told them of my plans and they did not disapprove (which they never did once I was out of university), to me that felt like their blessing. It gave me a sense of covering and personal boundary.

Like many parents, my father and mother had concerns about my going in and going out. After all I was a single girl. I knew they, especially my mother, worried when I went out of town and stayed out late. But they chose to trust me. That unspoken trust followed me wherever I went.

I admit, there were times that I pushed the limit and tested what was out there. I tested my own limits. I made some bad choices when I was just learning to spread my wings, and learned the hard way. But my parents' love and their trust were like an internal whistle long after my father had stopped actually doing it. I sensed it when I had to go "home".

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