It’s the last ninety minutes of thirty-three.
Thirty-three is three times eleven.
I don’t remember much about what it was like when I was three. But I have pictures of me wearing an army helmet and these round yellow (I think) swimming goggles. I carried a wooden pole that was about as tall as me, probably my rifle. And I rode this thing that I can only describe as an ATV-type of trike. It was blue and yellow (again, I think), and it had bike-type handlebars but it had four wheels. Now that I think about it, I think that toy was way ahead of it’s time. I have vague memories of being in an accident on that ATV-trike. I think I lost control as I rode it down the sloping walkway of my father’s ancestral house. I remember crashing at the gate. There is also this vague memory of me sitting on that ATV-trike bawling as I watched my mother walk out the gate. I don’t remember if I was crying because I didn’t want her to leave or because I wanted to go with her. But I remember the crying being intense.
I have other pictures of me when I was three. There are several of me and my cousin, who is my age, hanging out in the town plaza. We wore denim overalls. My hair was still pretty much a light shade of brown then. Back then, we also had this vinyl record of Battlestar Galactica. When ever my aunt would play it, my cousin and I would always pretend to be Apollo and Starbuck. I was always Starbuck. I don’t know if it was to match the hair color of the characters or something, but I was always Starbuck. We also had these cassette tapes different children’s songs. But my favorite cassette tape then was the one with opening and ending themes of Japanese animated series, most notably the big mecha series like Voltes V and Mazinger Z. I guess, you could say that was the first sign that I would grow up to be an anime freak…
When I turned eleven, I was attending fifth grade in a public school in Pampanga. Our school competed in inter-school competitions pretty frequently. Nerdy stuff like Math, Science, and Spelling. I remember representing our school for Math competitions several times. But I never got to compete in the regional level because I always just got second place in the division level. Public schooling ain’t what it used to be, I guess. Back then one took pride in attending a public school, and private schools had the reputation of catering to rich-not-so-bright kids, who could only do well with the help of a tutor.
During those days, I watched a lot of afternoon TV. Those time slots were reserved for cartoon series. I watched M.A.S.K., Thundercats, Silver Hawks, and Comic Strip every afternoon. I no longer remember what was on on which day. My favorite toy at that time were G.I. Joes. I still played with my Legos, but only when I was in my father’s ancestral house, which was located in another town. On some Saturdays, I would go to a classmate’s house to play on his Nintendo Famicom. He was one of the two kids in our class who owned the consoles. We played a lot of Spartan X and Super Mario Bros. I can’t remember if he had any other games. But during that time, the 8-bit graphics blew us away! They were amazing compared to the graphics of Atari games (which he also had, which we went to his house to play before he got the Famicom). But most of my free time was spent outdoors, playing basketball, hide and seek, different versions of tag, climbing trees, climbing fences, and jumping down from what ever I climbed.
When I turned twenty-two, I was teaching part time in a private school in Quezon City that catered specifically to children with dyslexia and other learning needs. I was the Art and Music teacher from the first grade all the way to the sixth. It was my first job. I was still finishing college then. I worked so I could pay for my tuition and living expenses. It was while teaching there that I realized that I, in all probability, have ADHD. That was where I met the missus too. My first taste of Starbucks coffee was her treat because I helped her finish preparing materials for her class. I was appalled that someone would charge close to one hundred pesos for coffee! I never became a fan of Starbucks. It’s just wrong.
I wasn’t used to being a teacher then. I was also a little different from what I am like now. I hated being hugged. One of the teachers there would sometimes hug me out of the blue just to see my discomfort. And on my 22nd birthday, she told the first graders to greet me happy birthday and give me a group hug. It was the longest 1 minute of my life. I also remember getting birthday presents! The missus got me some hair care products. That was the first time I grew my hair long. And CS gave me a Parker ball pen with my name engraved on it. If I’m not mistaken, I still have that pen somewhere in my disorganized clutter of things from the past, along with the cards that came with them.
Back then, I lived with my friends. We were renting a room in Loyola Heights in Quezon City. The staple food was fast food. It was a rotating menu of McDonald’s, KFC, and Tapa King. Rock radio was a staple then too. The rock scene was very much alive then, and rock music was very diverse. We listened to a lot of stuff, but I was already a shameless fan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, the Lemonheads, the Ersaerheads, and Rivermaya then. I had also started dabbling in song-writing during that time. But trying to form a band would not happen until the following year.
Recreation during those days was a mix of run-of-the-mill college-type activities and nerdy activities. I played pool, got drunk, gambled, and many times, all three on the same night. As for the nerdy activities, there was Starcraft and Counterstrike. My friends and I probably played a minimum of six hours a week. It was a lot of fun because our group was big, sometimes we would gather enough people to have teams of eight. Back then, the Missus couldn’t understand why we would play a game for two to three hours, andthen spend another hour just talking about what happened in those two to three hours. But that was before she met Diablo II and the Sims.
Then there was also the Sony Playstation. Tekken 3 was THE game. Everybody had their favorites. We would all hang out in my friend’s condo unit and play for hours on end. I mostly played Paul (of course!), Lei, and Julia. But I wasn’t the best. The guy to beat in our group used Yoshimitsu and Brian. To this day, (to quote Etlevs) I still call hacks. We also played RPGs. The most memorable ones were Final Fantasy VII and the Playstation port of Diablo because my friends and I did marathons playing those games. We did it in shifts, some people playing while the others slept. And again, many a time, the nerdy activities and the colleg-type activities would all happen on the same night.
Writing about this now, I wonder how I got to hold a job and finish college amidst all that recreation… Now kids, don’t try those things at home. Those awe-inspiring feats were done by trained professionals.
Last time I checked I was three times eleven. Thrity-three. Now, I’m thrity-four, for all of thirty minutes. I wonder what thirty-four will be like. I’ll start finding out when I wake up later. But right now, all I can tell you is that it’s two times seventeen.