I was born in an era where technology was just beginning. Back then, life was oh, so sweet and simple.
I could be found bumming around with friends and neighbors in vast fields of green – with no exclusive villages or gated communities to keep us out, no monstrosities of buildings with commercial enticements to distract us, and no multitude of vehicles to confuse our uncomplicated way of life.
As a precocious child, I would often play Chinese garter, tumbang preso, tubiganay, and other games till the stars appear in the sky. I would then go home in the dark without fear of being abducted or molested.
I could go to a neighbor’s house and partake of their meals without being turned away. It was a sharing era and people were quick to share or respond to a problem as if it were their own. There was nothing but serenity, tranquility, and goodwill amongst neighbors.
Such a scenario may be hard to find now, but traces of a simpler way of living still manifest in, for example, the more isolated poblacions in our own province – in the hinterlands of Baguio or even in the remote islands of Batanes.
I particularly remember my visits to Hacienda Graciana in Murcia. Every time I went there, I would not miss a visit with the tenants of that place and marveled at how graciously they shared with us the fruits of the land that they tilled.
Even the simple lunch that they shared – freshly-cooked chicken tinola, a salad of kamote leaves and tomatoes in tuba vinegar with lots of garlic, steamed bananas and buko, are all to die for. Then, armed with sachets of salt or scoops of bagoong in banana leaves, there was a mad scramble to collect manibalang or Indian mangoes and whatever fruits were in season. (Oh my gosh, I suddenly got teary eyed remembering my carefree childhood and this unexplainable longing to go back to those incredible times!)
In my innocence, I had no perception or interest about having money to spend or whatever it was that involved the adults. My main preoccupation was just having fun.
In my teen years, things would change a little bit, but not that much. Relationships would start to develop and eventually end in childish disillusion. I had grown up.
Alas, slowly but surely, progress started to set in. With it came the trappings of material possessions and the great divide between the rich and the poor. Either you have this or not. Even houses transitioned from simple bamboo or nipa, to concrete and iron structures. People’s attitudes started to change as well. Keeping up with the Joneses seemed to be the mantra of the day.
I often ask myself if it was possible to stop progress from contaminating the pureness of simple living. Would we, as we grow into adulthood, be content with not having electricity or not having clean water at our disposal, cars, television, cell phones, the internet, or even minor appliances? If those things had not been made available to us then, we would not have any reason to look for it now, right?
My bet would be that, given the confusion and how convoluted today’s world is, most people would still prefer to return to a more laidback, peaceful, and minimalist existence. Count me in as I, too, have no qualms in getting my hands dirty. I want to live a life driven by what is important to me and by what I’ve got, rather than a life dictated by status or societal expectations.
Always live life for yourself and not by how others see your life for you. – NWI