Of my three siblings, my sister Nica is my favorite. Not that she’s “bunso” and “only girl” but that she sort of became my outlet, a plaything, when I’m having a bad hair day or when I’m bored.
Here’s a sister who has, since a little past her teething years, developed the endearing habit of swearing “Hayop ka! Hayop ka!” when pushed to her limits.
“Bad girl,” I would tell her. “You’re such a bad, bad girl.” Then she would just baby-talk around, saying–and she would say it with hair flip and eye-rolling–“Look who’s talking?”
“Nica,” I’d explain, seriously, as if I had a better sense of right and wrong. “Since I’m the kuya here, it’s right that I poke fun at you and it’s wrong that you cry.”
One day the petty cat-fight she was having with our brother Vincent reached fever pitch, she let out a shrill “Hayop ka! Hayop ka!” whereupon our mother came to the scene, asking “Hayop? What did you say?”
“Hayop… si Kuya Vincent,” my sister’s voice toning down. “As in lion, lion. Meow!”
“Funny,” my mother would say, but, under a different circumstance, she would have pinched my sister on the ear.
At home, and even in school, GMRC was the byword, and, if cursing was condemned as “bad,” getting walloped by a flying object was asking for it when you spoke up for yourself and didn’t simply admit your mistake.
Make no mistake about it, I love my parents. Best I could tell, my only angst against them is when they shush me with phrases like “Huwag kang pilosopo!” and “I’ve been there, done that, shut up!” when I try to stand up when they reprimand me. I call those folks dead-end conversationalists, who sort of miss out on a more meaningful bond between kids speaking up and parents patiently explaining with love and care where they go wrong.
If I should have children–and I would love to have naughty, impolite, if you will “bastos” (if that’s what you call it) “philosopher” kids–I would teach them the value of argument and daring to disagree with any authority figure starting from me. But, most of all, I would never get tired of reminding them every time to speak softly.
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