The small world of my childhood | Inquirer Opinion
YoungBlood

The small world of my childhood

Whenever I come across “Phineas and Ferb” memes, I am reminded of the vibrant summers of my childhood. I remember waking up at eight o’clock in the morning and waiting for the show to play at nine.

For 30 minutes, I would watch Phineas and Ferb build contraptions that made their older sister, Candace, furious. Then, the scene turns to Perry the platypus, their secret-agent pet, foiling Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s plans to use whatever “evil-inator” he built for the day. As children’s show characters, it seemed like the summers of their childhood would never end. But mine did.

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I feel exuberant in reminiscing those days. Back then, the world was smaller and simpler. The summers were great, but I also found pleasure in the regular school days of the year. It was a time when I could hardly fathom just how big the world was, for my world was only comprised of our house, my elementary school, our church, the local mall, and nearby wet markets.

Life was a series of predictable circumstances, apart from occasional vacations with my cousins. On most days, all I had to do was go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. After that, I’d go home and rest for a bit while eating merienda before finishing up assignments that could be done in less than 30 minutes. With all of my tasks finished, I was free to watch television until my bedtime at about 9 p.m.

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In many ways, the comfortable and safe life I had is owed to my parents. They served as pillars for our family. Daddy and Mommy were always there. They don’t know this, but their backs, even unto this day, seem very broad to me. They are not towering figures, both of them didn’t work out and both were below 5-foot-6. But their backs still seemed wide and sturdy because, to me, it symbolized strength. They had backs that could carry the weight of our collective burdens that to this day I cannot bring myself to fully grasp. It is fitting that when I picture their strength I think of their backs as I had always walked behind them as they faced life head on. In their care, my siblings and I felt secure, as if the world could never get to us—stability was a felt experience.

I mention these things because I miss those days. For the past two years, life became increasingly complicated, unstable, and gloomy. It has been a habit for me to look back to a time when life did not feel so bleak and unstable, back to the days of my childhood. I like to do so because, for a moment, I am transported back to the good old days, finding solace in a time long gone.

However, the daydreams eventually stop.

My life can never revert to a simplistic version that my elementary self conceived. Not that life was ever, in actuality, simple. I go back to the routines I now have. The world gets bigger and more complicated by the day. It seems like every month there is a new place to see and explore as I adjust to my new university life. Whereas my younger self’s world was comprised of a few places accessible by a short trike ride, my present self’s world spans across cities. With wider horizons, I have also come to meet people coming from all walks of life.

For the most part, there remains a routine. There are the usual study sessions, group meetings, and leisure activities. But things aren’t so simple anymore. Suddenly, plans could be interrupted by emergencies and problems with grave consequences. Externally, I never thought that government policies actually affect our lives so much. It has not been easy at all to make sense of the complex social situations we have. Internally, my worldview continually widens. Suddenly, I have come to have personal qualms with my personal beliefs. While I still hold fast to my convictions, I find that difficult conversations with well-meaning people continue to challenge and enrich me in ways I have never thought possible.

My parents’ backs, though semblances of strength in my eyes, are getting older. They’re still as loving, thoughtful, intelligent, and generous as when I was eight or nine years old. It is not far-fetched to say that they have even improved as parents. They still serve as pillars that make life seem stable and sure, but they are no longer ideal persons that seemed to me impenetrable and invincible. They are, in fact, human — capable of mistakes and having imperfections. Dad and Mom’s best efforts led to a secure life for us, but that meant that they had to wrestle with life’s instability on our behalf, until such a time when we are ready to stand on our own. It is this fact that perhaps gives me a greater love for them. By God’s grace, they continue to raise us in this messy and complicated world. I am only starting to see just how difficult this must have been.

Here I am now, 10 years removed from watching “Phineas and Ferb” on our old sofa, and just over a month before I turn 20 years old, effectively putting my teenage years behind me. It feels like a momentous event coming my way. It feels like the world is about to get bigger again, an exciting and nerve-wracking prospect.

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Yet with whatever promise the future holds, I will never forget the small world of my childhood. I have learned to look back before moving forward, picking up lessons from a past that has long been left behind but will not soon be forgotten.

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Stephen Christopher Suba, 19, lives in Caloocan City.

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