Scene: Dinner table where my family sat down for a get-together with relatives and some close friends.
We’re not exactly poor then. Just getting by from the produce of the farm my father tended to. On this occasion, meat dishes were laid out on the table as well drinks and desserts. My mother was known for her achara (pickled green papaya) and this took a place of honor in our modest movable feast.
A distant relative squealed with unabashed joy at something else: “Abaw, ketchup! Ang yaman nyo naman.“ (Gee, you must be well off now. You’ve ketchup, I see.)
The remark was made in earnest. For our relative, having a bottle of ketchup on the table is clear sign you’re moving up in the world. I did not quite remember if the gathering erupted in laughter with that naive remark. But I do remember that this got passed around during family gatherings as a frame of reference on how each of us is doing, “Kumusta ka na? Mayaman ka na ba? Can afford na ba kayo ng ketchup?”
“How are you? Have you made it to the big time? Can you now afford ketchup for your table?”
Each passing year brings with it a new contraption to drive the snobs into a frenzy. Who among them will have the bragging rights as the first to possess these marvels:
- The first transistor radio – Our family was first in the neighborhood.
- The first black and white television set in the neighborhood – We were soundly beaten because my elder sisters went to college.
- The first gas range – My elder sisters lusted for La Germania. But Mother put her foot down: we had to stick with firewood and coal.
- Beepers and pagers – No can do – no doctors in the family, sad to say.
- Mobile phones – Among the early adopters of new technology in our town were the fish vendors and lowly employees of the local municipal government. Huwat! Pretentious little people. Bah.
But, of course, everybody today has a mobile phone. The fish vendors are well within their rights to be the trendsetters in our town – they have the means all right.
If mother were still alive she would have been pleased we stayed close to her idea of a simple life. We only buy stuff because we have to and we have the cash for it. Up to this day we have lived the life of simplicity. Surely we now have color television with subscription to the cable company. But everybody has that these days. It used to be I shared the use of a mobile phone with my sister who taught grade school. Not anymore – now even the kids have them as a matter of course.
I’m grateful for little mercies. I’m thankful for them. In my room sits my most prized possession – a secondhand desktop computer. A nephew gifted me with it. Sure, I’ve upgraded it to 1Gb memory, but it’s a computer that has seen better days. I’ve become religious because of it -
- praying over it for long life – Can’t afford a replacement if this gives up the ghost this very minute.
- praying that it be spared from virus and other malware attacks
- praying that it doesn’t mock me too much when I’m stumped about what to post
In fact, I’ve become technically a religious person because of blogging. I storm the gates of heaven with these petitions to God:
- no typhoons stronger than Signal No. 1 – the roof might be blown away
- no power outage – no electricity, no blogging.
- for SmartBro our internet service provider to finally get its act together to deliver excellent service
- good health so I can blog forever
Inside me is this fascination with the good things in life, yes. But most of these are but a mirage. Even if I acquire a good deal of these material things I’d still be bereft in spirit. Truth to tell, all I ever aspire for is to stand on this little soapbox at the appointed hour with you and say my piece – with no stage fright or mishap.
So, how’s your day, guys? Has it been kind to you and made you a step closer to what you aspire for in life and in your blogging career? What’s your story? I’m dying to hear it.