Do you play baseball? Are you familiar with the rules?
Well, most of us are familiar with this scene that we’ve probably seen in movies. “Ei batter, batter, batter…” Whoops. Strike One… Strike Two… Strike Three… And you’re out! I’ve experienced playing the game back in college and I wasn’t that good, I almost ended up getting hit by a bus trying to catch the ball out on the streets. And I’ve tried playing the game with my parents, but it’s a different Series. It’s a game called “Keep Daughters Away from Harm and Imperfections at All Costs.” How does that game work?
Way back in my elementary and high school years, I was always known as the girl with strict and overprotective parents, the girl who is always “hatid-sundo” and not allowed to go out with friends (I sneaked out once) unless planned for in advance and with acceptable conditions. From pre-school until my senior year in college, I was brought to and from school. And unlike other college students who lived away from home, my home followed me (from Subic Bay to Baguio City). My mom accompanied me since my freshman year in UP—my sister even had to transfer schools because of the move to accompany me in Baguio! The only thing that changed is that I am freer to go out with my friends now and don’t have to ask for permission to go out a week in advance.
You could be thinking that I might as well don an orange shirt with a huge letter P printed on it but my parents say they do have their reasons for it. They want to keep me safe from the harm and crimes of the world. After all, you can’t just go strolling down the streets like in the 60s (their time) where no one gets mugged. They said times now are different.
It’s like my sister and I are the baseballs that they want to hit and send flying high to safety and a perfect world free from harm. This baseball series is even complete with game plans to ensure fly balls to safety. But I think that no matter how hard they try to protect me and keep me safe, I still cannot escape from another series: unfortunate events.
One of the series even happening to me in just a span of one week, in Baguio City—the place where my mom followed me and watched over me to protect me and keep me safe! I guess it isn’t so after all.
Game Plan 1: Pick up from school or anywhere to avoid the dangers encountered from commuting.
In the last semester of my junior year, I was at the city hall waiting for one of the city councilors to arrive. I needed to interview him for my investigative report which was on the access of minors to the selling of pornographic videos in the city. Turns out he couldn’t make it anymore. I texted my mom to pick me up and she told me to wait in front of the city hall by the security guard. So I went to the front steps and found some of my classmates who were also busy finishing their investigative reports. There was not a security guard in sight. I shrugged and just sat down with them. Then we noticed a guy not far from us trying to catch our attention. He was dancing and looking at us. Eew. He lit a cigarette and made his way toward us. He sat down at the steps with us and started bugging us with questions like what our names were, what school we went to, and our cellphone numbers.
I started thinking, “Mom, where are you? What’s taking you so long?” My classmate wrote on her notebook, “Lasing ba siya?” (Is he drunk?) and I wrote back, “Hindi, adik yata. Waaaaah!” (No, maybe a drug addict). One of my classmates couldn’t take it anymore and walked off. We panicked when he started inching closer to us so we walked off too but he started following us. So we ran and hid behind the cars and the trees, but we ended splitting up. The others were nowhere to be found. What kind of a city hall is that with no security guard at the front? Eventually, Mommy turned up and she was looking for me. She didn’t see me because we were still hiding from the psycho. All this happened while waiting for my mom to pick me up at one of the supposedly safest places in the city. Strike One.
Game Plan 2: Give enough money or food so you won’t run out and ask from anybody else.
The problem is that I’m a generous person. I was with my friend Jack at 50’s Diner. I was treating him out for lunch. After finishing our meal, we decided to go for some dessert. A banana split. I said, “Pero hati tayo” (Let’s split) I said referring to the payment for the dessert because I only brought money enough for the lunch and a little extra. We were there for about an hour sharing stories and laughing. When we got the bill I asked for his half of the payment for the banana split and he was all, “Huh?” and told me that he didn’t bring any money.
Man, I was so shocked and my face felt so hot with humiliation. He thought I meant that we will share in eating the banana split! The owner just looked at us as we questioned each other and left us for a while. Frantically, we tried to figure out what to do. He suggested that he leave me for a while so he can withdraw cash from his ATM account. I said I didn’t want to stay there all alone waiting in humiliation. I pulled myself together and used my “diplomatic skills” to negotiate with the owner. He was a nice old man and told me I could leave my cellphone first while we went out to get the money. When we got out of the diner we burst out laughing though I was really mortified at what happened. It’s the first time that such a thing happened to me because every time I go out, my parents always made sure I had enough money or food so I wouldn’t have to ask from anybody else.
I was ashamed particularly to the owner, to the people who might’ve over heard (there were people from school there, including a professor!), and to my friend (though he assured me it was okay and was embarrassed himself for assuming). When we got the money we returned to the diner for my phone. Haay. Despite that Oops moment, we walked back in there with our heads held high. That was strike two.
Game Plan # 3: If in the event that it is impossible for me to be picked up, get a cab and text all details (license plate no, Taxi name, Taxi driver’s name)
That same day, Michelle, one of my closest friends helped me out in interviewing the informants for my investigative report. They were mostly the vendors of the pornographic videos. I was nervous and didn’t know how to get them to open up. Michelle was a great help because she’s sanguine and really friendly. She got them to answer my questions in no time. When we were done, she invited me out for dinner at Don Henrico’s—her treat since she was going back home to Manila at midnight for the summer vacation (and I was out of cash because of my earlier misadventure). I asked permission from my mom and she said yes. I asked her to pick me up at 10 pm and do you know what she said?! I can’t pick you up at 10 because it’s the Eviction Night of Pinoy Big Brother. (She’s a fan of Micky Perz by the way) “Suit yourself, I’m out of prepaid balance, can’t reply to you anymore.” she said. Pinoy Big Brother Season 2 over her sweet and wonderful daughter? Gasp! Well, anyway, my friends suggested that I take a cab home so I can extend my time with them. They offered to pay the fare. So I texted my mom the offer and that was that! Then we ate, chatted, and they got me a cab. I texted my mom all the required details.
On the way home, the taxi driver started chatting me up. I’m not comfortable with that and it was late at night too. Then the taxi started slowing down when we were about a block away from my house. Other cars overtook us and honked their horns. I got nervous thinking that maybe the driver was going to do something bad to me. Wow, some help the texting of cab details can do in protecting me from this possible danger. My mom even texted at that moment, (Come home now!) Man, I thought she said she didn’t have prepaid balance anymore.
I braced myself as he turned to me. He said he had a flat tire. I let out a sigh of relief, got out of the cab and paid him. I think he was embarrassed at what happened and handed me back half of what I gave him. I thanked him and with that, I ran home. It wasn’t easy though given the fact that the way to our apartment was uphill and the normal oxygen content in the air being 21%, was only 19% in Baguio City. I was nervous that somebody might grab me or that I might get run over by a car or that Mommy might be mad already. I gave a sigh of relief when she opened the door and said, “Uy, si Ezekiel yung natanggal.” Whew.
But still, that was a strike three and I’m out! Out of being safe, protected, and unhurt from bad elements, imperfections, pain and bad situations no matter what my parents try to do. And after that series, more happened: slipping 7 times in a night while walking down Session Road (wrong choice of shoes) and fainting in my school’s parking lot after an earthquake (because I skipped lunch) with the whole school watching and having my pale and sickened face broadcasted on the evening’s local TV news program later on, making bad decisions, falling in love then having my heart-broken, being covered entirely in rashes caused by heat allergies. You can’t fight nature.
Besides, I will never learn survival tips if I’m kept to the four corners of my parents’ home. To learn, I’ve actually got to rough it out in the wild and have misadventures or get strike outs. I learned, I realized better tactics or game plans in life. So this time around I’m in line for the bat. And I’ll hit that ball not of safety but of ignorance out of the field and strive to make a home run to an Ishi not unblemished or scratched but a home run to an Ishi full of misadventures but wiser, tougher, and richer in experience.