If I had my own "Boyhood" movie

It would start at my grandparents' house, me staring at a calendar of Christ The King. I was four. I know because my mother had started teaching me numbers and I remember the year vividly - not as a single 4-digit number but 4 individual numbers, written together in red bold letters - 1, 9, 8 and 7.

There would be less talking in the movie as I was a very silent kid. Often I'd just stare at my cousins, softly repeating to myself everything they are saying. When they'd recite a poem, I would secretly learn them line by line. When they'd read their alphabet flashcards aloud, I'd read them too, but only in my mind.

There'd be music, lots of them, in clunky cassettes. There would be a scene with me and mother in front of a big silver Sanyo cassette player. She would teach me how to insert the tapes and press the right buttons, careful to not record on the albums or have the strips eaten by the cassette head. 

There'd be scenes with me playing with the neighborhood kids. But I wasn't very strong. I was thin and frail. Through grade school, I'd have nosebleeds every now and then. I'd faint several times. This would have me staying indoors most of the time. I'd read books, and write a lot. Writing - that would become my obsession. I'd write stories, draw comic strips and create my own books and magazines out of scrap paper and school pads. When not writing, I'd grow plants and vegetables. These activities did not require talking, and they allowed me to think.

For a kid, I would think a lot. Alone. Quietly.I would lock myself inside a cabinet because I enjoy silence. And darkness.

Then we'd get a Nintendo Family Computer from our aunt and then my life would turn around. For once I was very good with movements - shooting enemies, smashing bricks, riding motorcycles or playing sports. I'd learn to love video games, playing till my head throbbed in pain.

There'd be that one time when I tried to run away from home because my mother wouldn't allow me to play. I would come back less than an hour later because there were too many mosquitoes outside.

I wouldn't think we were poor. We never missed meals and I always had new school supplies. Plus, we always got toys from our relatives in Manila and my ninang in the U.S. And then I'd grow older, and slowly I would discover realities.

There'd be missed electricity bills. There'd be my mother asking my teacher If I can still go to school without wearring a uniform cause we cannot afford them. There would be the time I'd be pulled out from camping and the school band.

I wouldn't mind. But there'd be this point where I would pray to God to give my parents money so I can have a snack like a bar of Cloud 9 or a pack of Chikito cracker nuts.

But still I was a happy kid. Most of the time.

There'd be scenes of me being bullied, then of myself being the bully. I wasn't the nicest kid. There would be experiments, secrets, confusions, and other emotions I was too young to deal with.

Our family having no money would be a recurring theme. While my classsmates would enroll in summer classes or go to Manila for a vacation, I'd stay at home, helping out in chores or manning my mother's sari-sari store. That was before my mother was forced to close her small livelihood down because of lack of funds.

I'd experience our lowest point. There would be the time when my father's crops were rotten because we couldn't have it dried. We'd lay them out in the morning only to be rained on in the afternoon. I'd cry while we were helplessly putting them back in sacks under the rain.

I'd walk in my parents discussing our financial troubles in hushed tones. I'd see my mother writing letters, asking for help. My father would often be in my high school, not to visit me but to sign promisory notes. I'd experience going to school with my mother's last ten pesos.

And then I'd be overweight. I'd have self doubts, and worse, I'd hate myself. I would excel  in school work, but would be struggling to be accepted, I wouldn't know where I belong. Kids would call me names and I would take them all, believing they are right. I was shy, silent and insecure most of the time, but to fight these off, I'd learn to be mean and arrogant to other kids. I'd find my place in the high school food chain.

Then I'd get accepted to college. For the first time in my life I'd live far away from my parents. I'd say goodbye to my mother who would ask me to be a good boy and to do well in school. My father would hop with me on a bus for a ten-hour travel to the city. He would leave me in a dormitory for college freshmen, and then I'd close the dorm room.

There would be a small calendar on the closet assigned to me. It has a picture of Disney's Mulan saying "Challenge your limits." It has a Milo logo, the previous occupant must have gotten it for free from the chocolate drink.

The year would be 1, 9, 9 and 9.


dianne pagtalunan said...

i hope there'll be that scence when you and ES bullied me (for manhood part wahaha)... i was never bullied until then...

Gelli Bean said...

Pamangkin, this so moved me.

thomas said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing. May this piece of prose be rewritten into an award-winning screenplay!