Monday, November 7, 2016

Sesame Street versus Ibarra St.

   In the late 50’s and early 60’s in Pasay City, Philippines children played in the street.  Homes with television were few.  Children with no television set at home watched by peeping through windows of neighbors.  Shows were created for adults.

   Along Ibarra Street, we played with trumpo or tops as it is called in English.  The contest was to break each other’s tops by hitting it with the metal pin while spinning on top of it.  That may sound barbaric but the exercise honed the kid’s survival or killer instinct.

   We played with Teks cards.  Each child has a designated card to represent the owner.  The bunch was flipped in the air and the card that comes down face up wins.  The owner of the winning card was paid in cards by the losers.  Eventually the one who has won most of the cards gets to sell some to the losers for money, nickel and dime.  This game fostered cunning.

   We had pocket wars between neighborhoods fought with tirador or slingshot made from a Y shaped tree branch with bullets made of folded paper bent into V shape or pebbles.  

   This could actually hurt but whoever complained to the adults will not be welcomed in the game again.  We nursed our wounds and moved on to fight another day.  This game taught sportsmanship, teamwork and loyalty to the team.

   By the late 70’s I was a mother of three.  The world became more dangerous.  I became paranoid.  We left Ibarra Street for the more tranquil Tahimik Street in Imus, Cavite.  Tahimik literally means silent.  I kept my children indoors.  I stocked up the freezer with Magnolia products so they didn’t have to go out for ice cream.  
I encouraged them to bring their friends home.  I invited their cousins to spend summer vacation with us.  We spent weekends in the mall or swimming in hot springs.  We took their playmates swimming with us.

   When I was at work, they spent their time in Sesame Street.  They learned to sing the alphabet.  They found harmless creatures like a vampire who loves to count.  The monster ate cookies.  The biggest character, Big Bird, didn’t bully.  Ernie and Bert taught them about friendship.  Oscar the Grouch who lived in a trash can taught them the worst thing that can happen to a homeless is become grouchy. Hence, my children grew up with a very unrealistic view of life.  

   They all got bullied in school and didn’t know how to defend themselves.  I didn’t know how to handle it because I was not bullied.  From Ibarra St. to Jose Rizal Elementary School, a public school at the corner, there were enough childhood pranks, teasing and thug brawls.  I learned the valuable lesson of when to run or when to fight.


   The new US Administration is trying to cut PBS funding among other charitable programs.  This means Sesame Street will be shut down.  The idea did not come from this article.  We empathize with the cast and staff of Sesame Street.  As per Philippine history, the children that were deprived of Voltes V grew up to populate a coup d'tat.  Let's see what 15 years will bring.

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