"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

his question

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.
--John Betjeman

last july, my cousin, who's now based in singapore, brought his young family to the philippines for a vacation. during their stay in metro manila, they occupied a room on the 9th floor of the peninsula manila in makati. at that time, my tita and cousins from the states were also staying in the hotel, just 2 doors away. owing to close family ties and all, my elder brother, my cousin from dumaguete and i stayed with them and spent leisure hours in the hotel. at one point, while we were waiting for the lift, my cousin's then 4-year old son drew away the curtains in the waiting area and looked through the glass. because we were on the 9th floor, he got a good view of the ayala avenue-makati avenue intersection and the ayala cityscape.

him: why does your country look so old?
me: will you say that again?

when he asked the question, i wasn't looking at what he was seeing so i didn't know where his question came from. i was taken aback when i saw that he was looking at the buildings surrounding ayala avenue. goodness, they're relatively new!

him: it looks so old. your country looks so old. why does it look so old?

the inquisitive innocent

he rendered me momentarily speechless. fortunately, my 15-year old cousin from the states who has seen much of the countryside butted in. the conversation went like this...

15-year old cousin: the philippines is actually the best place that i've ever been to. this is your country, too, you know. we may be growing up elsewhere but this is our country, too.
him: nooooo. its looks so old.
15-year old cousin: if we really think about it, countries are old.
me: (addressing my innocent-looking but bold nephew) so, you don't want to call this country yours too solely because it looks so old?
him: yes!
me: but you like us... you like the people here, don't you?
him: yes!
me: sweetie, you're still indeed a little kid. you're looking at just one cityscape and that's not the entire country, but you like the people. that's good.
him: hey, i'm four and eleven-twelfths! i'll be five soon.
me: i know... but being five will still make you a little boy. grrrr???
him: grrrr...
15-year old cousin: grrrr... you two look cute when you do that.
together: grrrr...
me: grrrr... jud. mahurot akong english sa inyoha mga bataa mo.
them: huh?

grrrr... that question, that 'old country' question. i still carry it with me. whenever i find myself in a high-rise building and i look through the glass windows and see a cityscape, his question echoes.

iba talaga 'pag bata ang nagtanong.


  1. because it is old. and the capital region is decaying.

  2. you actually called him sweetie? how cute!!! =D

    manash volcs naman ang gloomy ng comment mo =P

  3. gEEEmail, yep. si ako? gigamit pang-address sa other person ang sweetie? oh yes, pag sobraan ka-adorable ang person, i can't help but use the term. hehehe.

    thevolcano, yes: because it is old and his eyes are young. the capital region is decaying and his life is just unfolding.

  4. yes. the philippines looks old because it IS old. hehehe:) ang funny for me kay katong pag-ingon niya nga "your country" ba. oh well, bata pa gyud sad siya.;)

    in fairness, i like calling people "sweetie" whether they're cute or not. hehehe:)

    by the way, hindi ba't birthday sa imong papang yesterday or tomorrow? basta ang alala ko from your comment last year, your dad's birtday is the day before or after my dad's. today is my dad's birthday. happy birthday sa imong papang.:)

  5. hahaha. his question keeps 'haunting' me because for him, it's MY old country.

    yep! yesterday was my papang's bday, and instead of stayin' up late last nov. 27 to take a shot at being the first one to greet him on his 50th bday, i waited for just a little before 12mn last night... so i can be the last one to greet him! hahaha, i changed tactics and made my parents laugh.

    wow, i'm glad you remembered! btw, happy birthday to your daddy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...