Monday, April 13, 2015

The Girl They Called ‘Manila Times’

   In 1958, Cynthia, like most Filipinas, lived in a home filled with family, her parents, her grandparents plus an aunt and an uncle who were both single and finishing college.  They had no television so she was the entertainment.  She sang out of tune and danced real bad which became the comedic relief for the adults.  She was also their six o’clock news.  The little girl was as observant as a police detective, has a memory that was sharp down to the details and protected her integrity like a journalist.  Her mother taught her strongly about telling the truth, that if she ever got caught lying people will never believe her again.   

   Since she had no sibling to play with she spent her days in the homes of her playmates.  She ran off to the street after breakfast, ran back in for lunch then stayed out till dinner.  During those days people didn’t worry about pedophiles or children disappearing.  In the evenings everyone sat in the living room to actually talk.  

   “Here comes Manila Times!  What happened out there today?” her uncle would say as soon as Cynthia walks through the door.  

   He fondly called her ‘Manila Times’ because she brought home complete and accurate stories about their neighbors.  She told them which kid got spanked and why.  She was brave about giving her own take on the justice or injustice between the crime and punishment.  She told them which couple fought that day, who was cheating on the spouse and how he got caught.  She told them who lost a job and what that family had for lunch as a consequence.  She told them about neighborhood fist fights between individuals, giving an accurate blow by blow account, who won or lost and the grudge behind the event.  She narrated screaming bouts between families complete with the exact dialogues including the curse words which sounded funny coming from a five year old who did not understand their meaning or connotation.

   Cynthia grew up to become a Media Sales Representative selling newspaper ad space and later on a television show to advertisers.  When she visited her uncle with her daughter 35 years later, the old man told the girl “Your mom should have been a newscaster.  She would look so good doing the six o’clock news.”

   “How can he say you should be on television?  He sounded like he’s such a fan!” Cynthia’s daughter said on their way home.   

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