“Growing up means letting go of the things that made us happy when we were kids.”
– Marge Simpson to baby Maggie, The Simpsons Movie

*****

YOU HAVE gone a long way, dear minion.

This was the remark I nonchalantly told myself after I unexpectedly unearthed a 10-year-old doodle pad from the clutter that had swarmed my desk one Friday evening.

Stabbed by nostalgia, I gawkily mused, “This was how the pretender survived a decade ago.” Or so I thought.

But more that the memory-lane dusting that typified my chance encounter with a personal treasure teeming with the amateurish intellectual panting of the younger me, it was recalling the history of its acquisition years ago which almost led me to tears. Fortunately I was not in the mood to whimper since I had to finish a school paper due the next day.

I remember it was in the middle of December in 1997 when my father and I treaded the murky alleys of Recto Ave. to scout for a book that would aid me in honing my writing skills for an upcoming competition which I would be joining the next month. Despite our perseverance to get the most user-friendly material fit for a 12-year-old kid’s temperament, we were unable to find one.

Not wanting his son to wail in disappointment at the prospect of going home empty-handed, my father grabbed a navy blue-colored notebook and a book titled The Great Filipino Dream by a Thomasian writer Immanoel J. De Pedro (whom I thought my father had met before). My father told me, “The author of this book has also been a disappointed man like you. He was upstaged, if not outshone by most of his contemporaries.”

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“You have to first read him to know how such disappointment has stirred him to conceive this masterpiece,” my father told me. “Scribble your thoughts in this notebook. Your expositions can go a long way, though learning makes a bloody entrance.”

I took his word with a tinge of apprehension. I then spent the rest of the holidays reading De Pedro – from his lengthy discussion about the kind of revolution – not political but economic – that our country needed in order to prosper, to the diasporic adventures of one Rogelio Dagdag, a creature of anecdote, who upon reaching the United States, suddenly metamorphosed into “Roger Moore” (apparently Dagdag was aping the James Bond actor).

The book, while barely teaching me about the technicalities of writing, nevertheless awakened me from the harsh reality that youthful exuberance, as in the case of the young Philippines which used to dominate Asia before the Great Tumble, is a creature of frustration after all, and that social inaction knows no age.

As I leafed through the brittle pages of the decade-old doodle pad, I came to realize that the minion of the pen, which has managed to earn his stripes along the way, still has a lot of grinding – and axing – to do if only for him to disregard Mrs. Simpson’s advice.

*****

Ostracize not the Child Jesus in his own party. Merry Christmas grandma.

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