From a real farm to ‘FarmVille’
In my hometown of San Juan, Batangas, I used to wake up to the sound and smell of my lolo and lola’s menagerie of animals — grunting pigs, clucking chickens, barking dogs, bleating goats, mooing cows and carabao.
The back of my lolo and lola’s house had a small farm. I used to help them feed the chickens, pigs, dogs and goats, and to clean the surroundings; it became my morning routine, which I grew to love.
From a young age, my grandparents taught me to be friendly and kind not just to humans, but also to animals.
The small farm was a magical place for me, a paradise where I had fun and learned many things. I learned how to love animals, to respect and take care of them.
Every morning, I looked forward to spending time not only with the animals, but also with my lolo and lola.
I loved how the rays of the sun kissed my skin every morning when I fed the chickens. I loved the sound the pigs made when I sauntered past their cages. I liked how the dogs wagged their tails at me. I got fascinated by the sight of the cow and the carabao drinking water, and the bleating of the goats as they devoured their food.
And I loved being in the company of my lolo and lola. Even if my parents were not around, I grew up to be a cheerful and loving person because of them. Taking care of the animals in my grandparents’ small farm helped me cope with the sadness of my parents’ absence. It helped alleviate the pain in my heart, which longed for my mother and father.
Five years ago, we moved to the city, and I had a culture shock. I had to leave my grandparents to move to Bacolod City, which was now more urban, with new buildings and lands that had been turned into residential communities. There was no place any more for raising animals. Adding to my devastation, I missed my lolo and lola terribly.
In high school, I discovered a computer game where one had to raise animals and grow a farm. It was called “FarmVille.” For a long time, I kept playing it, because I would pretend I was back in my lolo and lola’s farm. I arranged my virtual farm to make it look like the real one in Batangas. Even if I was miles away from that place, I pretended I was feeding the same chickens, goats, dogs and pigs.
It might sound ridiculous for a 17-year-old girl to play a computer game about farming. Other people would say computer games are a waste of time in general (I myself had to give them up to focus on school and other responsibilities). However, this game proved meaningful to me, because I was reminded of an important part of my childhood: the lessons I learned from raising animals, and the lolo and lola who raised me.
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Alecxis Caringal, 17, is a Grade 12 student of Riverside College, Bacolod City.
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